It took Alexis Sanchez some time before he could make his presence felt at Inter again, but he eventually chose a very important moment to get his first goal since rejoining the Nerazzurri last summer on a free transfer.
Although his opener against RB Salzburg wasn’t enough to win the game alone, as the Biscione needed to score again in the second half after Oscar Gloukh‘s equaliser, it was proof both the club and the fans needed to keep believing Sanchez can make a more valuable contribution than his previous stint at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
At the age of 34, the former Barcelona forward managed to become the highest Chilean scorer in the Champions League, extending his run of form that has seen him score 18 goals from 44 games played with Marseille last season across all competitions, just two short of the tally he had racked up in his first three seasons at Inter.
With Inzaghi able to only rely on four strikers for his 3-5-2 system across the entire season, one of whom will be back in early November after being sidelined with injury for several weeks (Marko Arnautovic), it’d be of paramount importance to add a reliable option to the offensive rotations for an Inter team that will be desperate to safeguard Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thruam‘s fitness.
Sanchez’s complicated relationship with Simone Inzaghi
When Inter and Alexis Sanchez decided to part ways back in the summer of 2022, allowing the Chilean to join Marseille as a free agent, the decision seemed mainly based on the limited playing time that prompted the player to claim that he felt like “a lion in a cage”.
Sanchez had only started seven of the 27 Serie A games that he played under Simone Inzaghi in the 2021/22 season, and in spite of scoring crucial goals in the Coppa Italia and in the Supercoppa Italiana, his manager’s trust seemed affected by the red card picked in the second-leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie at Liverpool, which ended up jeopardising Inter‘s very real hopes of a comeback.
Sanchez‘s time on the pitch gradually diminished from that point on, persuading both parties that his departure at the end of the season would be the most logical outcome.
Can Sanchez’s goal against RB Salzburg mark a new start at Inter?
However, after a brilliant season in France, Inter once again looked at the 34-year-old last summer, deeming him one of the best – and most convenient – solutions to strengthen their attack while also facing the usual budget constraints.
Surprisingly, Sanchez looked more than keen on rejoining the Nerazzurri, suggesting the past frictions between him and Inzaghi had been solved.
After all, the coach knew that the striker’s technical and dribbling skills could prove of great help, especially during the games, but he was also presented with the task of handling the physical conditions of a player who had spent the whole summer training on his own rather than with a team.
This is why Sanchez‘s integration process had to be gradual – before the RB Salzburg fixture the Chilean had already featured in six games in all competitions, but started just one of them, at Salernitana.
With the international break having taken a toll, especially on the South American players, Inzaghi decided to rest Sanchez for their fixture at Torino, but with a view to polish the forward for his first big night of the season. Except for the goal, Sanchez‘s 65 minutes on the pitch against the Austrian side were characterised by constant runs and a good amount of dribbles.
As he walked off of the field scratching his head, his desire to stay and play more was evident but nevertheless, he was smart enough to shake hands with Inzaghi and avoid any rumour about his potential discontent.
It was arguably a sign of his maturity, one that the coach will probably take into account for the future. Should he be able to involve Sanchez in the right way, then his contribution could be even greater than expected.