As one of Manuel Pellegrini’s signings – and we all know how his tenure at the club worked out – to say that Carlos Sanchez’s career at West Ham hasn’t quite matched up to these words has been an understatement of epic proportions.
It shouldn’t have been this way. At the time of Sanchez’s signing back in August 2018, he said: ‘I’m very excited and looking forward to achieving lots. I decided to come here because, first, it is the Premier League, second, it’s a beautiful club… and third, for me it’s an amazing opportunity and an amazing project the club are leading, being ambitious and keen to achieve good things.’
It wasn’t actually Sanchez’s first spell in the Premier League, having played with Aston Villa between 2014 and 2016. Perhaps, though, a sign of things to come came from his own lips when signing for us: ‘It didn’t end well.’ That ‘end’ was Aston Villa’s relegation, after which he was loaned to Fiorentina for a season, before arriving at the London Stadium.
As an experienced Columbian international with 88 caps to his name at the time, Sanchez was praised for the way that he ‘dominated’ Neymar in the 2015 Copa America in their 1-0 win over Brazil, earning him Man of the Match. However, his form dipped significantly in later years: in the 2018 World Cup, he was sent off against Japan after just three minutes, giving away a penalty which ultimately led to a 2-1 defeat.
Shockingly, this led to death threats on social media against him, leading to the Columbian coach of the time, Jose Pekerman, to dedicate the following match, a 3-0 win against Poland, to him. It may be that this affected his form when he returned to the side. In the famous England v Columbia match, later in the same tournament – a bitter, bad-tempered match where the entire Columbian team were roundly criticised for their antics, with England only slightly better – he gave away another penalty, from which Harry Kane scored for England.
Even though Columbia equalised with virtually the last kick of the game, we all know how that match turned out. From a club perspective, Sanchez’s West Ham career never really took off. After six appearances – with the only victory in that time being a 3-1 success over Everton, in which he came onto the pitch as a 71st minute substitute – he was injured in the 8-0 win over Macclesfield Town in the EFL Cup.
His injury was serious enough that it warranted knee surgery, and it kept him out of the team for several months, with his return not until towards the end of the season in the vital 3-0 victory against Southampton. Any hope that this might kick-start his West Ham career into the 2019/20 season was very rapidly dashed, as in the current campaign, he only made 10 appearances for the club. Of these, six were in the league, and he only started one match all season, an under-23 encounter against Norwich City.
It’s been clear that the writing has been on the wall for some time, with the change of management probably sealing Sanchez’s fate, as he has fallen out of favour with David Moyes. There’s no doubt that Carlos Sanchez has some serious talent – you don’t become a mainstay for the Columbian international team without it.
He has significant experience, having appeared at five major tournaments. However, as with so many other West Ham United players, the ending of his days in a claret and blue shirt has been so disappointing. Sanchez’s West Ham United career, sadly, has mirrored the Hammers’ campaign as a whole: promising, but failing to deliver.