No wonder Alexis Sanchez is a man in such demand.
Shkodran Mustafi has hailed rare and world class talent Sanchez in a glowing tribute to his Arsenal team-mate. And as he revealed just how difficult it is to stop one of football’s most feared attackers, Mustafi underlined just why some of Europe’s biggest clubs are jostling to sign him but why he is also so desperate for Sanchez to stay at Arsenal.
Manchester City, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are among the clubs battling it out to try to prise Sanchez away from the Gunners. At the same time, the North Londoners are trying to persuade him that his future lies at the Emirates and to sign the new deal on the table, which is worth more than £275,000-a-week .
Defender Mustafi said: “Of course I hope he stays. It would be a pity to lose him.
“Alexis is an exceptional player — for me one of the best in world football. I have experienced few players who are as hungry as him. He is nimble, agile, but despite his size very sturdy, and can dribble past players. Alexis is a complete player.
“As soon as he is on the ball, everyone knows: something can happen. Once he has made his way to the front of the goal, you will not be able to take the ball.
“He can slow down at full speed and hit a hooked shot – you never know what to plan next minute.
“It is definitely advisable not to allow a one-on-one situation, but to play against him with cover.”
Those attributes are why Sanchez is a wanted man as he heads into the final year of his Arsenal contract.
His former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola wants a reunion at Manchester City , having earmarked the Chile star as his top attacking target for this summer. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte also has Sanchez on his transfer wish-list as he bids to improve his title-winning squad for the Blues’ return to the Champions League — which Arsenal have failed to qualify for.
Having painfully sold a number of top players to Premier League rivals in the past, the Gunners are determined to dig their heels in this time and stop Sanchez joining another English side.
However, that will give some encouragement to their regular Champions League conquerors Bayern Munich, who are among the clubs across Europe keeping tabs on Sanchez’s situation.
And their need for the 28-year-old would be even greater if they lost unsettled superstar striker Robert Lewandowski, who is a target for Chelsea and Manchester United.
Mustafi said: “He (Sanchez) can play in any team, clearly.”
The Arsenal duo could go head-to-head on Thursday when Mustafi’s Germany side face Chile in a Confederations Cup match in Russia.
Sanchez began Chile’s first game of the tournament on the bench because of an ankle injury, but came on to set up the goals that earned them a 2-0 win over Cameroon — though he made it clear he was far from fully fit by posting a picture of his swollen ankle on social media afterwards.
His latest international exploits came after a brilliant season individually for Arsenal, when he scored 30 goals and added 13 assists — although his heroics weren’t enough to earn Arsene Wenger’s side the top-four finish they had secured every previous season since the Frenchman took charge in 1996.
And Mustafi, reflecting on his debut season at Arsenal told German paper Bild : “It was a roller-coaster ride, it went up and down. I missed the first three games and preparation, and could not participate.
“Then we had a good run for a long time. In January, February we then slightly dipped and lost too many points. We won the FA Cup in my first year — that’s nice, but I would have liked to be part of the Champions League [next season].
“The Premier League is definitely the toughest league. I have now played in a few countries. There are always surprises here [in England], which is not the case, for example, in Spain.
“Here, you never know who is suddenly at the top — Chelsea was in the middle, now they are champions. Leicester won the league last year.
“You never know what’s going on. That makes the league so difficult.”