Alexis Sanchez’s former manager says that only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can claim to be better than the Arsenal star – and he may improve even more.

“He’s never looked as strong as he does now,’ said Pasquale Marino, the former Udinese manager. “Personally, I think he could score more than 35 goals a season in any league he plays in.

“If he succeeded in doing that, he would be at the same level as two monsters of the modern game: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nowadays only those two, and maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic, can claim to be better than Alexis.”

Marino spoke about his experience working with the ever-enthusiastic Sanchez in training, saying: “Alexis could easily play three matches per day. As soon as the (training) match started, Alexis used to abandon the scarico (recovery time) and would run up to me, almost imploring: ‘Mister, let me play, just for a few minutes. Please, please, please. I promise I won’t get injured.’ Football is an enormous pleasure for him.”

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If Sanchez does start scoring over 35 goals a season then perhaps the comparison can be made but up until this point in his career he hasn’t looked like getting near that mark. Arsenal would probably need to make him into a Messi-esque false nine but Olivier Giroud’s recent resurgence has made that rather less likely of late. Sanchez seems destined to be in the bracket below the two all-time greats – but there’s no shame in that.