Alexis Sanchez is back in Arsenal training and could make a rapid return to action for their season opener next week.
Star man Sanchez gave the Gunners a lift by jetting back to England on Tuesday to end concerns about whether he even would show up, amid doubts about his long-term future. And he is now expected to be in consideration for the first game of the top-flight campaign at home to Leicester next Friday night.
By the time the Foxes arrive at the Emirates, striker Sanchez would have had over a week of training.
But the Chilean is renowned for recovering quickly and his desperation to play every game possible — qualities that will put him in line to make the start of Arsenal’s league campaign.
Sunday’s Community Shield clash with champions Chelsea will come too soon even for Sanchez, though, something club insiders think will frustrate him.
The 28-year-old touched down in London on Tuesday morning and made his way to the FA Cup winners’ London Colney base for a light session.
He was put through his paces by fitness coach Barry Solan, before doing some ball work.
His fitness and recovery will be closely assessed over the next few days before a decision is made on when he should join in with the rest of his teammates, whose pre-season preparations are more advanced after a four-match tour to Australia and China and two more games in the weekend’s Emirates Cup on home turf.
Sanchez’s month-long summer break didn’t begin until the start of July after he helped Chile reach the Confederations Cup final in Russia.
Boss Arsene Wenger revealed last week that Sanchez would be back in training on Sunday.
But the player responded the following day by posting a picture of himself online claiming he was ill, sparking fears of a potential no-show.
He was then given two extra days off by Wenger.
Sanchez’s long-term future is up in the air, with his contract due to expire next summer and talks over a new deal deadlocked.
Meanwhile, the Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain target has told friends he wants to leave but conceded the final decision on his future will be made by Arsenal.
Wenger has insisted “he’s staying, of course” and former Gunners favourite Perry Groves told bwin: “If Alexis wants £350,000 a week, then give it to him.
“I would keep them both (Sanchez and Mesut Ozil) until January and see where the club is then.
“If we’re challenging for the title, then risk keeping them.
“You don’t need to worry about Alexis’ attitude on pitch, he doesn’t know any other way than to fight.”