After his debut season of first-team football with Cobreloa, Sánchez was signed by Italy's Udinese in 2006. Following successful loans at Colo-Colo and River Plate, he began playing in Serie A. In 2011, he was signed by Barcelona for £25 million, becoming the most expensive transfer in Chilean football history. Sánchez signed for Arsenal in July 2014 for a fee reported to be £31.7 million, making him the third-most expensive signing in the club's history after Mesut Özil and Granit Xhaka.
Born in Tocopilla, Sánchez was product of Cobreloa prolific youth ranks where he was teammate of current Chile national team players such as Charles Aránguiz and Eduardo Vargas. In February 2005, Sánchez was promoted to the senior first team by manager Nelson Acosta.
Sánchez's made his debut against Deportes Temuco in February and scored his first professional goal in a 2–1 victory over Deportes Concepción on 18 March, allowed him play his first Copa Libertadores game against Once Caldas aged 16, which made him one of the youngest players on debut for the tournament.
After an impressive season with Cobreloa, Sánchez caught the attention of Italian Serie A club Udinese, which signed him for a £1.7 million fee, on 21 April 2006. Udinese, however, began a maturation project with Sánchez and immediately loaned him to Chilean giants Colo-Colo in a season-long deal.
Sánchez debuted for Colo-Colo on 23 June 2006 in a 1–1 draw with Antofagasta; he scored his first goal on 29 October during the Chilean football derby against Universidad de Chile in a 4–2 win. His well performances allowed him break into the starting lineup after successfully challenging veteran striker Mario Cáceres, so that began partnering Humberto Suazo in the forward position. On 1 November, he scored a brace in a 4–4 league draw against Deportes La Serena. as well as his first continental goal in a 7–2 thrash over Alajuelense from Costa Rica for the Copa Sudamericana. Nevertheless, Colo-Colo was runner-up of that tournament after losing the final against Pachuca of Mexico. On 23 December 2006, Sánchez won his first professional title after being starter in the Torneo Clausura final against Audax Italiano which his team won 3–2.
The next season, on 23 March 2007, he scored his first Copa Libertadores goals against Caracas at Cúcuta where he netted a hat-trick to a 4–0 away win. On 12 May, Sánchez scored his first and only one league goal during a 3–1 home win over Santiago Wanderers, key in the race for title with Universidad Católica which Colo-Colo finally reached after beat Palestino 1–0 at Monumental the last matchday. Noteworthy, it meant the club's 26th league title.
After Sánchez's impressive FIFA U-20 World Cup (where Chile achieved the third place with José Sulantay as coach), his loan with Colo-Colo expired and on 15 August 2007, he joined Argentina's River Plate on loan from Udinese.
After a successful season in Argentina, Sánchez left South America in July 2008 to join Udinese, where he would meet up with Chilean compatriot Mauricio Isla. Sánchez made his non-competitive debut in a 3–0 win over Bassano and was named the man of match. On 14 September, he played his first Serie A match in a 1–0 loss with Juventus and four days later, he made his European debut against Borussia Dortmund. On 19 October 2008, Sánchez scored his first league goal against Lecce. After this first goal, Sánchez got into a minor slump, in which he took much criticism. The criticism ended after scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute against Bologna in a 1–0 win, being named the man of match.
The next season, Sánchez played an important role for Udinese in the Coppa Italia, being a key player in the team that eliminated Milan, assisting Gökhan Inler for the winning goal. In the semi-final second leg, Sánchez was the man of match after playing a successful game against Roma, including scoring his first Coppa Italia goal in the 81st minute. It was not enough, however, as the aggregate score finished 2–1 in favour of Roma. By the end of this year, Sánchez scored a total of 5 goals (4 at the end of tournament) in 32 appearances.
On 27 February 2011, Sánchez scored four of his team's seven goals as Udinese comfortably defeated Palermo 7–0, playing only the first 52 minutes of the game. This event meant he broke the record of goals scored by a Chilean player (in a single match) in Serie A, beating the records set by countrymen Marcelo Salas and Iván Zamorano.
During his successful season at Udinese, Sánchez and Italian striker Antonio Di Natale became one of the best scoring duos in Serie A; they tallied 39 goals between them, two goals short of the Alessandro Del Piero–David Trezeguet duo that completed 41 goals in the 2007–08 season. In recognition of his achievements, Sánchez was named the world's most promising youngster of the 2011 season by the users of FIFA.com, where users had to choose between Sánchez, Gareth Bale, Javier Pastore, Ganso and Neymar in a poll. Sánchez ranked 56th in the May 2011 edition of Castrol Performance Index and 24th among the forwards.
On 20 July 2011, Barcelona of the Spanish La Liga confirmed they had agreed to a €26 million fee (including €11.5 million in certain bonuses) with Udinese for the transfer of Sánchez, becoming the first Chilean to play for the club. "Sánchez is very young," said then-manager Pep Guardiola; "He can play in all three attacking positions, he shows intense defensive skills, he's direct and from what I've been told, he's a very nice kid." The transfer was finalised five days later when he passed a medical and signed a five-year contract. "I want to learn from players like Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernández—and I want to help the club win more titles," said Sánchez.
Sánchez's debut season for Barcelona was mired with short-term injuries. He made his debut on 14 August 2011 against archrivals Real Madrid in the 2012 Supercopa de España first leg away match, suffering a thigh injury after a challenge by Marcelo. Barcelona won the tie 5–4 on aggregate. He made his return two weeks later as a substitute in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, won by Barca 2–0. Alexis then started the opening match of La Liga, at home against Villarreal, and scored his first goal in a 5–0 win. A week later, on 10 September, he was stretchered off after 30 minutes following a challenge from Dani Estrada in a domestic league match against Real Sociedad. Sánchez returned on 1 November in an away match against Viktoria Plzeň. On 10 December, he scored Barça's equaliser against Real Madrid in a match they went on to win 1–3 away at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. On 14 February 2012, Sánchez scored the first and second UEFA Champions League goals of his career in Barcelona's 3–1 victory against Bayer Leverkusen.
In the 2012–13 campaign, on 2 October 2012 Sánchez scored the first goal for Barcelona in a 0–2 away win against Benfica. On 10 February 2013, then scored his first goal of the Liga season in Barça's 6–1 home win against Getafe. From February onwards, Sánchez scored in matches against Deportivo de La Coruña, Mallorca, Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis, Atlético Madrid and Espanyol to end the season with eight league goals. Barcelona won the league title, ending the season with 100 points.
On 26 October 2013, Sánchez scored the winning goal as Barça beat Real Madrid 2–1 at Camp Nou in the first Clásico fixture of the 2013–14 La Liga season. On 5 January 2014, Sánchez scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona in a 4–0 win against Elche. He ended the 2013–14 season with a career-high 21 goals in all competitions, including 19 in La Liga.
On 10 July 2014, Sánchez signed for Arsenal on a long-term contract for a transfer fee of £31.7 million. Sánchez was given the squad number 17, previously worn by Nacho Monreal, who took the vacant number 18 instead. In a statement released by the club, Sánchez said that he was "so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London". Manager Arsène Wenger praised Sánchez, saying that the Chilean international "has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad." Sánchez made his first appearance for Arsenal on 2 August 2014, as a substitute during a 5–1 win against Benfica in the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament.
Sánchez's first competitive appearance was against Manchester City in the Community Shield, on 10 August, playing in the first half and helping Arsenal to a 3–0 win. On 16 August, he made his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, assisting Laurent Koscielny's equaliser in a 2–1 home win. He then scored his first goal for Arsenal on 27 August, slotting the ball past Beşiktaş goalkeeper Tolga Zengin in stoppage time of the first half to secure a 1–0 aggregate victory and a spot in the group stage of the 2014–15 Champions League. Following the game, Wenger was full of praise for Sánchez, with the Arsenal manager saying, "He had a good game, not only on the technical side but on the fighting side. He was mobile, dangerous and has shown as well he has great fighting spirit, qualities that will be very important in the Premier League." His first league goal came four days later, netting the opening goal in a 1–1 draw away to newly promoted Leicester City. He then scored his second league goal in as many games against previous season champions Manchester City, demonstrating perfect technique to sidefoot a volley high past goalkeeper Joe Hart in a 2–2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Sánchez scored his fourth goal for Arsenal, from a free-kick, as the Gunners fell to 2–1 defeat to Southampton in the League Cup. He scored his first goal in the Champions League proper for the Gunners on 1 October, scoring Arsenal's third goal of their 4–1 home win over Galatasaray and also provided assists for two goals by Danny Welbeck. On 18 October, he scored the opening goal and later assisted a late Welbeck equaliser in a 2–2 draw against Hull City at home. The following league fixture saw him scoring a brace against Sunderland after capitalising on errors made by defender Wes Brown and former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone. On 1 November, Sánchez again scored a brace, this time against Burnley in a 3–0 victory. With that brace, he scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season across all competitions. He and Yaya Sanogo scored against Borussia Dortmund in 2–0 win as Arsenal qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. On 3 December, he scored the winner against Southampton in the 89th minute to give the Gunners a 1–0 win.
Sánchez scored the first goal in Arsenal's 2–1 home win over Queens Park Rangers on 26 December and assisted the second goal for Tomáš Rosický; earlier in the same match, Sánchez had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Robert Green after being brought down by Armand Traoré. On 4 January 2015, Sánchez scored and assisted his first ever FA Cup goals as Arsenal knocked out Hull City, the previous season's runners-up in the third round. Sánchez assisted Per Mertesacker and scored in the 82nd minute, being substituted two minutes later by Chuba Akpom. In Arsenal's next Premier League match, against Stoke City, Sánchez was involved in all the three goals as Arsenal beat the Potters 3–0 at the Emirates. He first assisted Laurent Koscielny and then scored two goals of his own. His performance was praised by Thierry Henry, who called him, "Arsenal's best signing of the last six years."
On 4 March, Sánchez ended a run of eight games without a goal by scoring Arsenal's second goal as they beat QPR 2–1 at Loftus Road. Sánchez scored Arsenal's third goal on 4 April as they beat Liverpool 4–1 at the Emirates and was chosen as the man of the match.
On 18 April, Sánchez scored both of Arsenal's goals in the FA Cup semi-final as Arsenal defeated Reading 2–1 after extra time. Eight days later, he was the only Arsenal player named in the PFA Team of the Year. On 4 May, Sánchez scored another brace, this time against Hull City in a 3–1 away win. On 29 May, he was voted as the 2015 PFA Fans' Player of the Year.
Sánchez reached his 25th goal of the season in the 2015 FA Cup final on 30 May with the second goal in a 4–0 defeat of Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium, a long-range strike. Sánchez, who also headed an assist for Theo Walcott's opening goal, became the first Chilean to score in an FA Cup final since Newcastle United's George Robledo in 1952. He capped off his first season by winning Arsenal's Player of the Year award.
Sánchez made his first appearance of the 2015–16 season as a substitute in Arsenal's 2–0 loss to West Ham United on the opening day of the 2015–16 Premier League. The following week, on his first start of the season, Sánchez had a header deflected into the Crystal Palace net by Damien Delaney to give Arsenal a 2–1 win at Selhurst Park. The goal, however, was later credited as an own goal by the Palace defender.
On 26 September 2015, Sánchez ended a run of ten Premier League matches without a goal by scoring his first hat-trick for Arsenal in a 5–2 win at Leicester. This made him the first player to score hat-tricks in each of the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga. Sánchez then scored his first Champions League goal of the season a few days later, in a 3–2 loss to Olympiacos, latching onto a Theo Walcott cross to head beyond Olympiacos goalkeeper Roberto. The following league match, the last match before the international break, Sánchez scored for the third match in a row, scoring a brace in the first 20 minutes as Arsenal defeated Manchester United 3–0 home at the Emirates Stadium and moved up to second place in the league. After the international break, Sánchez carried on his fine goalscoring form by netting against Watford at Vicarage Road, through a Mesut Özil assist, in a 3–0 Arsenal win, keeping Arsenal in second-place and grabbing his sixth goal in three Premier League matches for the club.
Following a brief period on the sidelines due to injury, Sánchez returned to full first-team action on 30 January 2016 in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Burnley, scoring Arsenal's second goal of the game following a low cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sánchez netted his first Premier League goal since October with a goal against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, eqaulising for Arsenal in the 76th minute and keeping the Gunners' title challenge alive.
During April 2016, Sánchez scored in four consecutive league matches, with goals against Watford, West Ham, Crystal Palace, and a brace against West Bromwich Albion.
When launching their new kit for the 2016–17 season, Arsenal announced that Sánchez will change squad number from 17 to 7, which was vacated by the departing Tomáš Rosický. Sánchez scored his first goal of Arsenal's campaign and grabbed his first assist in Arsenal's 3–1 away win over Watford. Sánchez scored his first Champions League goal of the campaign in a 1–1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain on 13 September 2016, latching onto Alex Iwobi's rebounded shot, to secure Arsenal a point in the French capital. Sánchez kept up his spectacular run of form throughout September by netting against Hull, then scoring and grabbing an assist in a 3–0 victory over Chelsea. He scored a brace in a 1–4 win at Sunderland's Stadium of Light, bringing his total to 50 goals in 106 appearances across all competitions for Arsenal. On 22 January 2017, Sánchez scored his first penalty for the club (having missed his previous two) against Burnley in an eventual 2–1 win, which put Arsenal into second place in the Premier League standings. Sánchez scored his first goal in the season's FA Cup, in a 5–0 quarter-final win over Lincoln City, taking his tally to 21 goals for the season in all competitions. Sánchez scored the winning goal in Arsenal's 2–1 win over Manchester City, to send Arsenal through to their third FA Cup final, in four years.
On 13 April, Sánchez was included in the six player shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year. He also, in May 2017, won Arsenal's Player of the Season award. Sánchez finished off the season by claiming the man-of-the-match award and scoring Arsenal's opening goal in an eventual 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, ensuring that Arsenal secured a record 13th FA Cup and that manager Arsène Wenger won a record 7th FA Cup in the process.
Sánchez returned from the 2017 Confederations Cup with an injury, and therefore had to miss the team's victory over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield and the team's opening 4-3 win over Leicester City. Sánchez' first start of the season came in the 4-0 away defeat to Liverpool. Sánchez' first goal for the team came in Arsenal's 3-1 Europa League victory over German side FC Köln, in which Sánchez picked the ball up outside the penalty area and curled a shot past goalkeeper Timo Horn, to score the Gunner's second goal of the evening. His performance was praised by Arsène Wenger, who said: "I think Sanchez is still running after his best form. He is a fantastic football player but physically he has just come back. But he has it in his locker to do something special, which he did." Sánchez made his first appearance in the season's Carabao Cup in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers, in which Sánchez grabbed his first assist of the season, by delivering a cross-field pass which Theo Walcott subsequently put past Doncaster goalkeeper, Ian Lawlor.
Sánchez made his international debut for the Chile national team against New Zealand on 27 April 2006. He was called up by the coach José Sulantay to represent the Chilean under-20 team at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup held in Canada, where they finished third.
After his participation in the youth championship, Sánchez scored his first senior international goal in a 2–1 loss against Switzerland on 7 September 2007. He scored three times during La Roja's successful 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign and appeared on every match during the tournament finals. He then participated in the 2011 Copa América, scoring once in a 1–1 group stage draw with Uruguay, as Chile reached the quarter-finals. On 15 November 2013, Sánchez scored both goals as Chile beat England 2–0 at Wembley, repeating the achievement of national team legend Marcelo Salas in 1998.
Sánchez scored four times in Chile's qualification campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
On 13 June 2014, Sánchez scored Chile's opening goal of the 2014 World Cup, and provided an assist, in a 3–1 defeat of Australia in Cuiabá. During the round of 16, Sánchez scored the equalising goal in a 1–1 draw against the hosts Brazil. However, he was one of three Chileans to fail to convert their kicks in the penalty shootout, having his shot saved by Júlio César as Brazil prevailed 3–2.
Sánchez was a member of Chile's squad as they hosted the 2015 Copa América. He assisted Eduardo Vargas in Chile's 2–0 win over Ecuador in the tournament opener, then scored a header in their final group game, a 5–0 win against Bolivia which sent Chile through as group winners – he and Arturo Vidal were rested by being substituted at half time.
Sánchez was named man of the match in Chile's ill-tempered and highly controversial quarter-final win over defending champions Uruguay. In the semi-final against Peru, he created the opening goal for Eduardo Vargas as Chile progressed to the final with a 2–1 victory. On 4 July, Sánchez converted the winning kick in the final as Chile defeated Argentina in a penalty shootout to win their first major title, executing it in the Panenka style.
In Chile's first match of 2018 World Cup qualification on 9 October 2015, Sánchez scored in a 2–0 win over Brazil, Chile's first victory against the opponents since 2000. Four days later, he scored twice in a 4–3 win at rivals Peru.
In June 2016, Sánchez was part of the Chile squad that defended their Copa América title at the Copa América Centenario in the United States. On 14 June, needing a draw to progress to the knockout rounds, Chile fell 1–0 behind to Panama before both Sánchez and Eduardo Vargas scored twice in a 4–2 win in Philadelphia to qualify for the tournament quarter-finals.
Four days later, he scored one goal and registered two assists at Levi's Stadium in a 7–0 rout of Mexico, who were previously on a 22-game unbeaten streak. In Chile's 2–0 semi-final victory over Colombia, he became only the second Chilean – after Claudio Bravo – to reach 100 caps. Sánchez was involved in Chile's second goal when his shot rebounded off the inside of the post and across the goal, presenting a tap-in for José Pedro Fuenzalida.
In a repeat of the previous Copa América final, Chile faced Argentina. Both teams had a player sent-off before half-time, and after a 0–0 draw, Chile were victorious via penalty kicks (4–2) to retain their title. Sánchez was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
In Chile's opening match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup on 18 June, Sánchez, who had been recovering from an ankle injury, came off the bench to set up Arturo Vidal's opening goal in an eventual 2–0 win over Cameroon. On 22 June 2017, Sánchez became Chile's out-right all-time goalscorer when he scored the opening goal in an eventual 1–1 draw against reigning World Cup champions Germany in his team's second group match of the tournament, overtaking Marcelo Salas with his 38th international goal in 112 appearances, and also equalling Claudio Bravo as his nation's joint top appearance holder in the process.
Sánchez is a quick, creative and hard-working player with an eye for goal, who is known in particular for his energy, skill and work-rate on the pitch. Although naturally right-footed, due to his ability with either foot, he is capable of playing anywhere along the front line, on either flank, or through the centre of the pitch: throughout his career, he has been deployed as a supporting striker, as a winger, as a false-9, and even as an attacking midfielder; he has recently also been used in a more advanced, central role, as a main striker. A talented forward, Sánchez is gifted with excellent technical ability, agility, flair and acceleration, which enables him to dribble past opponents with feints in one on one situations, create space, and either score goals himself or set-up his teammates. Being an accurate striker of the ball, he is also effective from set-pieces.
Sanchez had a statue erected in his honour within his native town of Tocopilla in March 2017.
In October 2015, Sanchez was named as a brand ambassador for Huawei. He appeared in an advert to the tune of Blondie's "One Way or Another" for Huawei which made its debut in November 2016.
In February 2017, Sánchez signed a sponsorship deal with Pepsi.As of 10 September 2017
1Includes continental competitive competitions, including the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and UEFA Champions League.
2Includes other competitive competitions, including the FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de España, Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup.As of 6 September 2017
Chilean Premiera División: 2006 Clausura, 2007 Apertura
Copa Sudamericana Runner-up: 2006
Argentine Primera División: 2008 Clausura
La Liga: 2012–13
Copa del Rey: 2011–12
Supercopa de España: 2011, 2013
UEFA Super Cup: 2011
FIFA Club World Cup: 2011
FA Cup: 2014–15, 2016–17
FA Community Shield: 2014
Copa América: 2015, 2016
FIFA Confederations Cup Runner-up: 2017
FIFA U-20 World Cup Third place: 2007
FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Ball: 2017
Copa América Golden Ball: 2016
Copa América Team of the Tournament: 2016
BBC Goal of the Month: October 2015
PFA Fans' Player of the Year: 2015
Football Supporters' Federation Player of the Year: 2015
Facebook FA Premier League Player of the Year: 2015
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite UK Footballer: 2015
Arsenal Player of the Season: 2014–15, 2016–17
Premier League PFA Team of the Year: 2014–15
PFA Fans' Premier League Player of the Month: October 2014, October 2015
Serie A Player of the Month: February 2011