Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Sanchez aims to fire Gunners to silver lining

New challenge: Alexis Sanchez cannot wait to link up with his new team-mates at Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez is ready to tackle the biggest challenge of his football career head on by helping fire Arsenal to success next season.

The Chile international has agreed to sign for the Gunners from Barcelona, in a deal worth in the region of £30million.

Sanchez is set for a holiday following his World Cup exploits, where he scored twice as Chile reached the last 16 before being beaten on penalties by Brazil.

But the 25-year-old cannot wait to link up with the likes of club record signing Mesut Ozil – one of three Arsenal players set to represent Germany in tomorrow's World Cup final against Argentina in Rio – as the Gunners look to build on their FA Cup triumph.

"I feel that playing in England will be perhaps the most challenging step I have ever taken in my career. There are plenty of competitive teams in the league and I will do my best to win as much as possible," Sanchez said.

"I always liked English football and of course I enjoyed watching it. My aim is to keep learning.

"I will adapt as the time goes by. I just want to play football and ultimately enjoy myself on the pitch.

"I have come to Arsenal to win everything possible with the help of my team-mates. I look forward to making the fans very happy."

As well as Gunners' fans revelling in the club's latest acquisition, the players have been quick to herald Sanchez's arrival.

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey is one of the players already back at pre-season training and is in no doubt of the quality the Chile forward will bring to an already formidable attacking line-up.

"We all know about his qualities – he's quick, he can get in behind and dribble so he'll certainly slot in with ease," Ramsey said.

"He's a fantastic talent. He's proven it at Barcelona, and at the World Cup he was Chile's main player.

"It's a great signing and he'll certainly add quality to the team and bring his own style. We're all looking forward to working with him."

Closing a deal for Sanchez –who also had interest from Liverpool and Juventus – was down in no small part to the influence of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The former Monaco boss is understood to have spoken to the player face to face while working for French television at the World Cup in Brazil.

The attacking midfielder, said to have taken counsel from former Arsenal captain and Barca team-mate Cesc Fabregas who has signed for Chelsea, is in no doubt he will be given the perfect environment in which to flourish.

Wenger will return to Arsenal's Hertfordshire base after the World Cup final, ahead of a trip to New York at the end of the month.

Arsenal host the Emirates Cup on August 2/3, which is likely to present a debut for Sanchez.

He said: "I am looking forward to showing why I am here."

Arsenal are expected to further bolster their squad ahead of the FA Community Shield against Manchester City on August 10.

France defender Mathieu Debuchy is keen to move from Newcastle, who want to secure a replacement before closing out the £10million transfer, with Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo another target.

Arsenal have also been linked with German internationals Lars Bender and Sami Khedira.

Egypt centre-back Ahmed Fathi, meanwhile, is on trial at Arsenal.

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