Despite enjoying a meteoric rise to establish himself as an elite Premier League goalkeeper at Brighton & Hove Albion, Robert Sanchez’s remarkable falling out with the Seagulls has seen him seal a £25 million move to Chelsea.
Having stamped his mark under Graham Potter over the course of the last few seasons, the beginning of the end arose when Potter and keeping coach Ben Roberts left for Chelsea and Roberto De Zerbi came in at Brighton last September.
While his decline wasn’t immediate and he was the Italian tactician’s first choice for many months, once the errors crept in for the Spanish international, who was selected in Spain’s World Cup squad, De Zerbi eventually opted to give Jason Steele the nod between the posts.
With Sanchez clearly unimpressed by being dropped and even asking to not be named on the bench, his attitude didn’t win him any fans, which saw him essentially sideline himself for the closing stages of the campaign.
When Chelsea came in, the 25-year-old jumped at the chance to join the Blues, though, which notably sees him reunite with former goalkeeping coach in Roberts.
Even though he’ll initially serve as back-up to Kepa Arrizabalaga, there’s no doubting the ambitious Sanchez will be keen to challenge hard for the number one spot.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Robert to Chelsea and he adds further quality to our goalkeeping unit. Robert has repeatedly proved himself in the Premier League and been capped by his country. We are excited to watch him work with Mauricio [Pochettino] and his coaching team during the season ahead,” said Chelsea’s co-sporting directors, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart.
Excited to get down to work in his quest to stamp his mark at Stamford Bridge, it’ll be very interesting indeed watching his progress.
A modern keeper with all the skills needed to excel both in and out of possession, his aptitude with the ball at his feet is a great place to start.
Confident and assured with his distribution, this aspect of his armoury allows his team to position themselves in an expansive manner to beat the press. Very useful in terms of creating positional and numerical superiorities by serving as an extra man, this, in combination with his composure under duress and ability to use both feet to open extra passing angles, makes him an ideal man to build out from the back with.
Excellent at hitting targets over short, medium and long distances while taking out multiple foes, this is crucial in keeping foes guessing, for he can launch wicked balls over the top, pinpoint the wide men so they can be 1v1 and penetrate blocks with incisive ground passing.
By the numbers with the ball his feet, upon comparing him to Kepa as a useful example from last season using Wyscout data, Sanchez admirably held the ascendancy in a host of metrics such as passing accuracy into the final third, passes to the penalty area per 90, forward passes p90 and overall passing accuracy.
Upon shifting the focus to his keeping attributes, and the athletically gifted Spaniard is an immense shot stopper, who uses his wingspan, towering frame and slick reflexes to pose as a formidable man to beat. Quick to explode horizontally and vertically and alert to predicting the intentions of the ball striker, it’s a joy to watch him in full flight.
Backing himself to race off his line to shut down angles and never afraid to trust his judgement when claiming crosses, these areas of his game will have further endeared him to his new club.
A commanding presence, who stands at a colossal 197cm, this unquestionably helps him deal with set-pieces and deliveries into the box from open play even if he commits the odd error with his handling in these instances.
Brave, assessing situations coolly for the most part and fundamentally sound in terms of his positioning and footwork, it’s easy to understand why Chelsea were so keen to swoop in and snap him up.
“Robert has the potential to be anything,” said former manager Potter. “He can play in any team in the world; he’s that high level. His physicality is amazing, his shot-stopping is amazing, he can come for crosses, he’s good with the ball at his feet. He has got everything he needs to be a top goalkeeper. Robert’s potential high level is incredible and we’ve got to help him reach his maximum.”
With his future now sorted and his Brighton adventure over, Sanchez will now be firmly focused on getting things back on track with the Blues.
In a fantastic environment to further hone his craft and back under the guidance of a familiar face in Roberts, all the signs are positive, on the surface at least, that this transfer is a fine fit.
Now it’ll be a case of wait and see to see if it, in fact, is for the tremendously gifted Sanchez.