If he remains a big name in world football, Alexis Sanchez (33) is no longer the player he was at Barcelona or Arsenal a few years ago.
The Chilean, welcomed as a huge star in Marseille, is eagerly awaited by Marseille supporters.
His last three years at Inter Milan, in the role of a luxury substitute, prove that he can be a strong reinforcement for OM.
It wasn't really necessary, but the temperature has risen several degrees since Tuesday evening in Marseille.
Welcomed like a demi-god at Marignane airport by a crowd of OM supporters, Alexis Sanchez signed his contract for one season plus another option on Wednesday.
"He embodies everything we need," enthused President Pablo Longoria during the presentation of the Chilean star to the press, in the bowels of the Velodrome.
He is a player who can play in different positions and who will allow us to improve our level.
Precisely, what is the current level of the 33-year-old striker, passed by Udinese, Barça, Arsenal, Manchester United and Inter Milan?
Before terminating his contract on Monday, Sanchez stayed for three seasons with the Nerazzurri punctuated by 20 goals and 18 assists in 120 games, often in the shoes of a luxury joker.
Alexis Sanchez's stats from his three seasons at Inter Milan
“He was very valuable in the rotation, decrypts Grégory Paisley, the former defender trained at PSG, who follows Serie A for beIN Sports.
Especially two years ago, with Lautaro [Martinez] and Lukaku.
But even last season, marked by the arrival of Edin Dzeko, he did what he had to do.
Every time he came in, he had a lot of gas.
“It remains a safe bet”
So of course, OM's new No. 70 is no longer the player he was a few years ago at Barça or Arsenal, 10th in the 2015 Ballon d'Or ranking, then capable of stacking 30 pawns and 15 offerings for the Gunners in the 2017-18 season.
His time with the Red Devils (2017-2019) is to be classified in the “flop” section.
But, even less explosive than in his prime, the small format striker (1.68m) proved in Italy that he was far from being "carbon".
“When I saw that OM were on him, I thought it would be a good pick, continues Paisley.
He remains a safe bet, always capable of eliminating his opponent.
At Inter, when he returned, he often revolved around a point, whether it was Lautaro or Dzeko.
Despite his 33 years, he can still take the depth, pick up, find himself at the base of an action before projecting himself towards the surface.
“I also believe that he needed a new challenge and that he can find it at OM, a club with enthusiasm and which will compete in the Champions League”, adds the beIN Sports consultant.
Exactly what Sanchez said this Wednesday in front of the media, when he spoke of "a personal challenge" after playing in Italy, Spain and England.
"I like the pressure, that things are difficult to make them easier", also dropped the man with 146 caps with Chile, double winner of the Copa América in 2015 and 2016. He will be served in Marseille, as his new coach Igor Tudor, a Croatian born in Serie A, has already seen, where he officiated at Udinese, Juventus Turin (as an assistant) then at Hellas Verona.
Will he be able to chain the matches?
"Tudor likes players with a warrior mindset," Paisley said.
Alexis Sanchez enters this box.
“In the 3-4-2-1 of the new friend of Dimitri Payet and Mattéo Guendouzi, the new Marseille recruit – who admits that he still lacks rhythm – can play in one of the two positions in support of the center forward.
But probably not twice a week, between L1 and C1, after having chained three seasons to respectively 44, 41 and 35 minutes on average per game at Inter.
“Can he be consistent for a whole season?
One can ask the question, agrees Paisley.
But it remains an added value for OM.
And not just on the pitch, as Pablo Longoria acknowledged on Wednesday.
“In recent seasons, he has shown that he is at a very high competitive level, but he also gives credibility to our project, and the power to bring other players back.
“After registering his ninth recruit of a gargantuan summer, the time seems all the same rather to the slimming cure in Marseille.
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Olympic Marseille (OM)