Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has described the first moment he discovered the talent of Alexis Sanchez; long ago when he was a relatively unknown starlet at Udinese.
The Serie A outfit are famed for their extensive scouting network in South America and are responsible for originally bringing Sanchez to Europe. He cost peanuts to sign from Cobreloa before eventually emerging as one of the most exciting players on the continent.
Between the years 2008-2011, he scored 20 goals in 95 appearances for Udinese before Barcelona agreed to pay £23million to sign him. But, by that time, Wenger had already highlighted the then-22-year-old as a player he wanted to sign.
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“It was playing for Udinese [that I first spotted him],” Wenger said on Arsenal Soundcloud. “He was very dynamic, very direct and very straight to the point. He was one of these players where his energy and the intensity of his energy level hits you straight in the face.
“It is strange because he catches your eye with his energy and level of commitment he puts into everything he does and that is what remained with me.”
Bringing him to Arsenal
Indeed, it did remain with him. Wenger jumped at the opportunity to sign Sanchez in the summer of 2014, even taking advantage of his presence at the Brazil World Cup to talk to the player's agent.
It was those efforts, coupled with a world-class reputation, that helped Arsenal beat the likes of Liverpool to Sanchez's signature.
And fans are glad they did. So far, the Chilean has scored 34 goals in all competitions for the Gunners and has firmly established himself as a fan favourite.
His two goals against Reading in the FA Cup semi-final and a screamer against Aston Villa in the subsequent final, stand out as highlights of his career at the Emirates so far.