Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez had to be separated from his Chile international teammates during a dressing-room brawl on Saturday.
This is according to reports in Chile - brought to our attention by the Mirror - which claim Sanchez angered his teammates after taking a free-kick off the designated set-piece taker Marcelo Diaz during Chile’s 1-0 win over El Salvador.
This happened two minutes before the half-time interval, during which Sanchez and Diaz almost came to blows inside the changing rooms.
A witness was quoted by Chilean newspaper El Mercurio as claiming the two men could have ended up in a full-blown scrap but for the intervention of, surprisingly, Gary Medel.
“Other teammates had to get between them so that they didn’t come to blows,” the witness revealed. “Sanchez squared up to Diaz, shouting at him for not giving him the ball.
“[Diaz] shouted back; he told him to let everyone else play and not be so greedy. Furthermore, he chastised Alexis for missing a training session.”
Sanchez plays down incident
On Monday, after the dust had settled, Sanchez admitted an incident had taken place inside the dressing room but played down reports that it was anything more than an “enhance of opinions”.
“We’re all good,” the 26-year-old told a group of assembled journalists. “It was an exchange of opinions, like [the media] loves, it’s normal.
“Everything’s sorted, there’s no fight and we are all calm, they’re things that happen in a match.”
Pressure already getting to Chile?
It seems the pressure of the forthcoming Copa America, which gets underway on Thursday, might be getting to Chile’s players.
Chile have never won the Copa America, despite having appeared in every instalment since the prestigious South American competition was established 99 years ago, but are under pressure to do so this time around as tournament hosts.
Head coach Jorge Sampaoli, an impressive disciple of the legendary Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, must ensure the harmony within the squad is balanced ahead of his side’s first Copa America group stage match against Ecuador later this week.
Sanchez, as the team’s talisman, will be expected to produce the goods when it matters most - but adhering to Sampaoli’s instructions will be pivotal.
Sanchez might be the star name of this Chile side - along with Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal - but every member of that 23-man squad will need to work as a team, rather than individuals, in order to end their long wait for Copa America glory.
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