Pep Guardiola believes Alexis Sanchez cannot be blamed for his spectacular failure with Manchester United and expects the Chile forward to make an impact on loan with Inter Milan.
The Manchester City manager tried to sign Sanchez — who played under Guardiola at Barcelona — when he was in the process of joining Manchester United from Arsenal 18 months ago.
His failure to do so hardly proved problematic, with City winning the last two Premier League titles and watching from afar as Sanchez struggled at Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in 45 appearances.
Sanchez joined Inter on loan this week with United still paying a large percentage of his salary.
“I know him (Sanchez). We worked together in Barcelona. I have a special affection for him as a player, of course, but especially as a human being,” said Guardiola.
“He’s an incredible, humble guy and a fighter.
“So now he decides to move to Italy with one of the greatest teams in Europe with Inter right now, incredible manager with Antonio Conte and I’m pretty sure they are going to do well.
“Because the way I think Inter plays, is perfect for him. Play close to (Romelu) Lukaku and in this position I think he is going to have a good period in Milan.”
– ‘He is a shy guy’ –
Talking ahead of the weekend visit of Brighton to the Etihad, Guardiola joked he never pondered what might have happened had Sanchez opted to join him instead of Jose Mourinho at United in January 2018.
But the City manager is firm in his conviction that there is no simple explanation for Sanchez’s catastrophic fall from grace.
“Football clubs don’t depend on one player,” he said. “You judge it was a failure for just Alexis, but there are many reasons.
“Quality is there, it is always there. It happens for many reasons.
“It is not only for one player that doesn’t work with one team. They don’t play alone, it’s not tennis, it’s not golf.
“There is not one player in the Premier League that said this player is not good.
“I don’t know what happened, I was not there, so that’s why I cannot give my opinion, but I am not thinking it is just for one reason.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola must decide whether to hand teenage midfielder Phil Foden just his fourth ever league start — and a first of the season — against Brighton.
The 19-year-old is widely expected to step into the void left when City skipper David Silva leaves at the end of the season, but Guardiola believes Foden may be too nice for his own good.
“He is a shy guy. I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him, he still looks at me like a little bit respect like a manager, and after two or three season it’s not necessary,” said Guardiola.
“When he plays I will decide. I don’t know when but that’s going to happen because now we play an incredible amount of games.”