ARSENAL flogged Alexis Sanchez in January because they knew he was close to 'burning out' – and now Juan Mata is 'out-sprinting him'.
It is understood the Gunners were having doubts over his long-term fitness and were therefore prepared to let him go in January in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
6 Alexis Sanchez is being outperformed by Juan Mata in training and in the Premier League as Opta's stats show
PA:Empics Sport6 Arsenal flogged Sanchez because they reckoned he was close to "burning out"
It is not a major surprise he will miss tonight's clash at Old Trafford with a hamstring injury which is keeping him out until the New Year.
According to the Independent, Arsene Wenger and Co were wary during Sanchez's last season at the Emirates after playing so many matches.
Since joining Barcelona in 2011, the number of matches he has played in each season rose every year until 2017/18, peaking at 59 matches in his last full campaign at Arsenal.
So much so that the report suggests Mata – known for his technical class and intricate passing rather than his raw speed or explosive power – is getting the better of Sanchez at Carrington.
Reuters6 Sanchez joined Arsenal in 2014 after three years at Barcelona
-6 He played 59 matches in his final full season at Arsenal, his most in one campaign
As well as beating the Chilean in sprints during training, Mata is outperforming the former Barca star where it matters most: on the pitch.
The Spaniard has ran 73.9km in the Premier League this season compared to Sanchez's 55.3km. And it is not as though that it just because Mata has played more minutes.
They have each made five Prem appearances this term with Mata on the pitch for just 67 more minutes.
It means he has averaged 12.2km per 90 minutes according to Opta's stats.
Sanchez, meanwhile, has run 18.6km fewer than Mata despite the marginal difference in game time, with the Chilean averaging 10.4km across a full game.
Getty – Contributor6 Mata has ran an additional 18.6km compared to Sanchez despite playing just 67 more minutes
Getty Images – Getty6 The Chilean is averaging 10.4km per 90 minutes but Mata is way ahead with 12.2km per 90
Manchester United were signing a proven Premier League player with 60 top flight goals in England.
But things have clearly not turned out how the Old Trafford club would have hoped.
Last season, he was bad. This season, he has arguably been even worse.
Sanchez has scored a grand total of three Premier League goals in 2018.
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Patrick van Aanholt has six in that time, Chris Smalling has four.
It is no wonder Sanchez is fed up and a move away from Old Trafford could be on the cards as early as January.
He said he wanted to go to Paris Saint-Germain – one of the few clubs who could get anywhere close to matching his current £505,000-a-week wages – but they are believed to be no longer interested.
Inter Milan are reportedly considering giving him an escape route – just as they are with Sanchez's former team-mate Mesut Ozil – while Real Madrid may make a move "if they get desperate".