The Chile national team is growingly concerned that Arsenal are risking Alexis Sanchez's long-term fitness by rushing him back from a hamstring injury, as reported in La Tercera.
Arsene Wenger hinted that Sanchez would return from his two-game absence to play against Leicester City on Tuesday night. The forward had been absent against Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, with his influential presence being sorely missed in the latter.
The Arsenal boss admitted that Sanchez was just short of match fitness to feature in the north London derby, and that the player himself had been itching to feature against their most loathed rivals.
However, there is concern emanating from his native country that the Gunners are not treating Sanchez's injury with as much caution as is necessary. The Chilean newspaper cited above states that the reliance Arsenal have had on Sanchez has convinced Wenger to rush him back and there is plenty of evidence to suggest the manager would do such a thing.
Wenger admitted risking Aaron Ramsey last season, stepping up his recovery from a recurrent thigh injury, leading to a set back. Ramsey, who was initially ruled out for four weeks sat out the next four months, in which time Arsenal dropped from first to fifth in the Premier League table.
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Ramsey was Arsenal's key performer last season and there is no doubt that Sanchez has been their most important player this term. The Chilean has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season – more than double Arsenal's second best goal scorer, Olivier Giroud (eight) – and has also assisted nine.
It is not just his scoring record that has impressed Arsenal fans, but his insatiable appetite for the game, as well as his spectacular commitment to fitness. Wenger has said in the past that Sanchez is keen to play in each and every game for the Gunners and doesn't need recovery days like normal footballers.
However, his hamstring injury has come as a concern for Arsenal, who have seen a number of important starts suffer long-term injuries already this season. Mesut Ozil has just returned from a three-month layoff while Jack Wilshere is still recovering from ankle ligament damage.
A fundamental problem
Some have suggested there is a fundamental problem with the way the Arsenal medical team manage their players, which is probably what has inspired the concern from the Chile national team.
With Chile set to play Brazil in a showcase friendly at the Emirates Stadium, Sanchez's availability is seen as crucial to selling out the 60,000 seater arena when they take the field on March 29.