Jose Mourinho has noted Alexis Sanchez is in a “fantastic condition” following a successful pre-season with Manchester United.
The Chilean, having failed to impress Man United supporters last season, was able to enjoy a proper holiday this summer for the first time in five years.
And he has looked like a different player as a result, claiming two goals, one assist, and performing with more energy than any other player on the pitch.
Speaking after United’s 2-1 win over Real Madrid, Mourinho hailed the way Sanchez has returned from holiday refreshed and ready to go for the 2018/19 season.
“My players will be in amazing condition,” he said. “Alexis Sanchez is fresh, the way the man is running, I think he is in a fantastic condition.”
“So let’s look at it from a positive side and wait for [Victor] Lindelof, [Marcus] Rashford, [Romelu] Lukaku and [Phil] Jones.”
There is an unmistakable spring to Sanchez’s game that wasn’t there last season. Too often he would pick up the ball and wait half a second too long, and the move would be dead. This time around, however, he has been relentless in his movement, his desire to get things moving.
That is the difference a proper holiday – without any tournament football – makes to a player. Physically, it wouldn’t have done much. Sanchez is an indefatigable athlete. He would happily run 12 miles through the Atacama desert without giving it much thought.
The difference for Sanchez has instead been his mind. Following several years of carrying Arsenal and captaining Chile, coupled with joining United in January, his mind – and therefore his capacity to make quick and correct decisions – was impeded. Only through disconnecting for a while can you overcome that.
All the signs suggest that Sanchez has indeed regained full mental and physical strength ahead of a crucial season for him at Old Trafford.