Alexis Sanchez carries the weight of a nation on his shoulders, much like David Beckham did for England, says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Sanchez is reeling from the blow of Chile’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
They had looked certain to be a part of the tournament in Russia but a 3-0 defeat to Brazil and results elsewhere saw them miss out on a qualification place.
Wenger says it is a huge disappointment for his star player.
‘Sanchez is 29 at the end of the year, so the next one he will be 33. He expected to go. Certainly [it is] a big disappointment for him.’
It will be particularly hard for Sanchez considering the pressure on him in Chile, in a similar way as it was for Zinedine Zidane for France and currently Lionel Messi in Argentina.
‘I would say you have in every generation a player who carries the pressure of expectation of a nation,’ Wenger said.
‘In France it was [Zinedine] Zidane. In England it was Beckham. We had other players in the team but it was Beckham. Why not [Steven] Gerrard? I don’t know. But it was Beckham.
‘In Chile it’s Sanchez. In Argentina of course it’s [Lionel] Messi. It looks like that there is somebody there in a national team who has to carry the pressure and absorb it and protect a little the rest of the team.’
Wenger continued: ‘It’s someone normally who likes it a little bit. They like to be on the front line. Overall what does it mean? It means they have to deal with the lows as well.
‘Remember 1998 when Beckham has been sent off after [kicking] Diego Simeone, he has been slaughtered here, he’s not been picked for the first two qualifiers after for the European qualifiers.
‘He has been treated in this country like a guy who has killed somebody. These players have to take both the positives and the negatives as well.’
Despite the disappointment, Wenger is backing Sanchez to show his character and recover.
‘But I believe to play at the top level as well, it is part of dealing with that kind of disappointment,’ said the Arsenal manager.