Sanchez To Be Arsenal’s New Pires?
A weird thing to say, right? That’s what I thought when I first saw it suggested on Twitter (apologies to whomever suggested it first, I can’t remember your handle). How can two quite different players be compared in such a simplistic way? The only obvious thing they have in common is position but even then there is a stark difference in playing on the left in a midfield four against playing on the left in a front three.
My initial reaction when reading that suggestion was a dismissive one. However, for some inexplicable reason, the notion crept into my head just as I was going to sleep last night and I spent a good few hours awake thinking about it, watching videos of Pires and Sanchez and mulling it all over.
After thinking about the whole concept over and over again I have come to the conclusion that I actually agree in principle with the fundamental suggestion or at least with the non-literal interpretation.
Pires was a fantastic player for Arsenal and played his best stuff during a period of immense success for Arsenal – a period in which we played some of the most scintillating football I have ever seen. Looking back at those times, it became clear to me that in some small ways Pires was possibly a little underrated or under-appreciated by the Arsenal faithful. That is not to suggest the Arsenal faithful are a bunch of philistines that wouldn’t know a world-class player if they slapped them in the face with a herring.
Bobby, as he was affectionately referred to, was a world-class talent and we knew it. He was a special player but maybe we didn’t quite appreciate how special he was. Gilberto was a player we sorely missed and truly learnt to appreciate after he left because there was nothing to mask his departure but Pires’ time at Arsenal was, and I use this phrasing after careful consideration, slightly numbed by the fact Henry was also in the squad.
Thierry Henry was something else – he had everything you could want in a striker and his light shone bright. His light was near blinding all by itself but with Dennis Bergkamp as his partner it became coruscating.
Henry was famed for his devastating penetrations from the left and despite a light as bright as Henry’s shining in his areas, Pires still managed to shine himself. With a player of the ability, and in the nicest possible sense of the word, and ego of Thierry Henry occupying the spaces in which you would normally have reserved for yourself, Robert Pires still stood out and made his mark.
That is a talent in and of itself and maybe one I never fully appreciated at the time and as he left before Henry, we never had the chance to miss him in the way we missed Gilberto.
Sanchez has been doing something similar for Barcelona in the sense he has still managed to shine despite playing with – and what tactically can sometimes looks as for and in pure support of – arguably the greatest footballing light that ever was in Lionel Messi.
Being able to stand out as a great individual talent in a team that boasts some of the greatest and also the greatest talent in the land isn’t easy but Pires and Sanchez both did it.
If Arsenal are able to get Sanchez they will be buying a player that has been the Barcelona equivalent of what Pires was for Arsenal and getting him in his prime.
Unlike Pires, Sanchez won’t have a player like Henry occupying his space or shining the brightest however he will have a Bergkamp-esque player in Mesut Özil feeding him balls through the channels and he will shine at Arsenal like he has never shone before.
Arsenal’s current team aren’t comparable to the team of the Pires years but the players they do have complement Sanchez’s many facets perfectly.
I don’t want to get my hopes up over a player we haven’t signed yet but even without a new striker the team from last season would have fared much better with Ramsey and Walcott fit for the second half of the season so imagine what a fit Arsenal team would be like with Sanchez.
Many people have been concerned about other teams making signings before us but if we get Sanchez, add him to the team of last season (sub out Sagna for Debuchy, who was rumoured to have signed last night and now we are pending an announcement) and keep everyone fit for the majority of the season then it doesn’t matter who other clubs sign.
Here’s to hoping it’s not just a pipe dream and Arsenal truly can secure their new Pires.
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