The greatest gift Alexis Sanchez has already given Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez is linked with a summer transfer to Arsenal, but has inadvertently helped them out earlier in his career?

Alexis Sanchez appears to be the fall guy as Barcelona target Luis Suarez, and Premier League sides are scrambling for is signature.

Arsenal are competing with Liverpool to sign the Chilean international, as they look to bolster their own forward line.

But did you know their own fortune has been perhaps irrevocably helped by Alexis Sanchez once before?

Cast your mind back to 2011 when Arsenal took on Udinese in a must-win two-legged Champions League qualifier.

It was a moment of 'crisis' for Arsenal, beaten at home by Liverpool, thrashed 8-2 by Manchester United, and stung by the double departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

The Italian side came agonisingly close to piling on the pain, with the game poised at 1-1 in the second leg, a Wojciech Szczesny penalty save from Antonio di Natale prevented a 2-2 aggregate scoreline and Udinese taking the ascendancy.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described as the turning point in the game, with the Gunners then going onto score another themselves - but he knew how close they were to missing out on Europe's elite competition.

How does this relate to Sanchez? Well he was part of that Udinese side which had earned the right to play in the qualifiers, and was sold to Barcelona only one month before the two sides met.

Had the Chilean remained at Udinese, he could have very easily tipped finely balanced tie in Arsenal's favour.

With inexperience Carl Jenkinson making his first appearances at right-back, the Gunners were fortunate Udinese did not have anybody able to really capitalise on that - Sanchez surely would have been a very different proposition.

Missing out on the Champions League group stages that season, would have changed Arsenal as we know them dramatically - they have yet to do so ever under Arsene Wenger, but this one of, if not their closest call ever.

Sanchez's absence on the opposing team, as he sought to fulfil his own ambitions at Barcelona, worked in their favour - and if he snubs Liverpool to ultimately sign with them, his impact will be even greater.

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