News: How brilliant is Alexis Sánchez?

Friday 19 January 2018 10.56 CET

What they say

Current tally

International: 119 appearances, 39 goals
UEFA club competition: 59 appearances, 14 goals
European domestic competition: 352 appearances, 134 goals

• Sánchez's 12 Serie A strikes that campaign included four in a February 2011 encounter with Palermo, making him the first player to score four in an away game in Italy's top flight.

• Hit his Camp Nou peak in his third season, scoring 19 in the Liga in 2013/14 (and 21 in all competitions) under Gerardo Martino.

• Trophies eluded him in that campaign, though. Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final; and while Sánchez's stunning volley in the last-day showdown with Atlético put his team in sight of another title, Diego Godín levelled to give it to the side led by Sánchez's one-time River Plate coach Diego Simeone.

• Blaugrana fans voted his classy lob against Madrid in 2013 as the best Clásico goal ever in a poll on the club's website, pipping efforts from Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Diego Maradona and Romário.

• Became the first player to register hat-tricks in the Premier League, Serie A and the Liga when he bagged three at Leicester City in September 2015.

• Scored in both finals as Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2015 and 2017.

• Is now the Chilean with the most UEFA Champions League outings (48) and goals (13).

What you might not know

• Raised in an impoverished Chilean mining town, Tocopilla, from age six he earned money by washing cars, performing somersaults and boxing in the street. "His background is what makes him so hungry to succeed," said his brother Humberto. "He knows how lucky he is to be where he is and never forgets where he comes from."

• Tocopilla's mayor presented Sánchez, then 15, with his first pair of football boots. "As happy as a dog with two tails", he later paid to restore five junior football pitches close to where he grew up, and regularly returns with boots and balls for local children in the port town (dubbed 'Devil's Corner' by locals).

• Nicknamed 'Ardilla' (Squirrel) as a youngster for his willingness to climb trees and buildings to retrieve lost balls.

• Slotted the clinching penalty against Argentina as Chile won the Copa América for the first time in 2015; struck three times and was named player of the tournament as La Roja retained the title in 2016. "I take no responsibility for his development because he did it himself," said Chile boss Marcelo Bielsa. "It's me who is grateful to him."

• Loves his golden retrievers Atom and Humber – named respectively after a fictional robot and his brother. "They are great friends," he said. "I actually have their names written on my football boots." The dogs are social media stars, their dedicated Instagram profile having amassed more than 150,000 followers.

"I always wanted to be one of the best players in the world – I've been saying that since I was a little boy. I will slow down after I retire, but for the time being I will carry on like this."

"Playing barefoot gave me my style – running with little jumps – because I was dodging rocks."

"People ask me if I analyse defenders or teams that I face. The answer is no, because good things are meant to come out in the spur of the moment. That's the way it is – things just happen."

"It would be a dream to appear in the movies, either as a detective – you know, smart, well-dressed, pistol, cool attitude – or as one of those lads who works at NASA and knows about everything."

What he might achieve yet

• Become Chile's most capped player; he and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo are tied on 119 appearances at the top of the leaderboard. He is already his nation's top marksman with 39 goals.

• Lift a major European trophy; he landed the 2011 UEFA Super Cup with Barcelona, but has yet to reach one of the two big finals.