By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Alexis Sanchez has given a glimpse into his life outside of football in recent days by posting images of himself playing the piano and walking his pet Labradors.
Such detail of the Chilean’s leisure activities was well known to Arsenal before making him their second-most expensive ever signing last summer but they were not the only Premier League giant who built up an extensive dossier into what makes Sanchez tick.
Football Insider can reveal that Manchester City forensically analysed Sanchez as they worked on a deal to sign him from Udinese four years ago before losing out to Barcelona.
“Put it this way, City were very close to signing Alexis Sanchez from Udinese in the summer of 2011,” said Mike Rigg, the former head of player acquisition at the Premier League champions. “The lad who worked for me at the time, Barry Hunter, who is now at Liverpool, had been tracking Alexis with me for some time. We built a relationship up with [Udinese owner] Giampaolo Pozzo, who is the chap who now owns Watford. We had done all the bog-standard scouting reports and then Baz went on over there with his agent, with the permission of Udinese.
“Baz met the kid, had a coffee with him, went back to his family home to see what kind of home he was living in – what he wanted. Was it an apartment in the city? The kid liked tennis, played the piano. We went to training and watched him there. Baz had coffee and went to the beautiful town of Udine and actually just followed him for a bit to see where he was going, what he was doing, what he liked doing in his spare time.”
How forensic was the level of detail from City as they attempted to land Sanchez? “Falling short of hiring private investigators…” Rigg replied. “The lads would check into hotels and be in the hotels where they knew the team was playing and pretend to be a fan and go up and get an autograph off them.”