Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford heaped praise on Arsenal's talisman Alexis Sanchez on Wednesday night, but should look to the Chilean as an example of how to shape his own game for the future.
Bamford has enjoyed rave reviews at Championship level, but needs to look at what he can add to his own game to improve enough in order to play to a Premier League standard, and the attributes Sanchez brings to Arsenal are exactly where he needs to improve.
The 21-year-old, for all his strengths, has in the past been labelled 'lightweight' and 'a luxury' by supporters who have, on occasion, bemoaned his work-rate and desire to do the ugly side of the game when needed. This of course is largely forgiven by his natural ability of finding the back of the net - a trait that has become indispensable for Middlesbrough this season as they look for a way back to the Premier League.
Nevertheless, the Nottingham-born striker needs to add more strings to his bow, so to speak, and increasing his work-rate and ability to utilise all the forward positions would undoubtedly increase his chances of a future with the Blues.
According to whoscored, Sanchez has played in seven different positions for Arsenal this season, including all three attacking midfield roles and as the lone striker, so it does reflect in what is being asked of Bamford at the Riverside Stadium.
Last season, Bamford was more often than not utilised as a wide-forward by Steve McClaren. Similarly, at Middlesbrough, he has been asked to play in four different positions with his poorest form coming when played in his favoured role as a centre forward.
When deployed as an attacking midfielder by Aitor Karanka, he has scored an impressive three goals in four appearances. However, when played as a centre forward, he has a not so impressive record of one goal in five games.
Given the strength at Chelsea have upfront, arguably the best chance Bamford has at Stamford Bridge is to embrace the attacking midfield roles while on-loan at Middlesbrough and improve his work-rate and positioning around that, rather than as an out-and-out striker. A point he actually touched on in an interview last week.
''I've played all along the front line but I don't mind,'' Bamford told Gazettelive.co.uk
“I’ve played all those roles right so far in my career and I’m comfortable in all of them.
“When I made my first team debut at MK Dons I was out on the wing and I played there, through the middle and as in a three at Derby.
“I’ve alternated here too. Obviously No 9 is my preferred position but if the manager wants me to play somewhere else then I will.''
In this regard, there is no better example of how to be effective in all the attacking areas than Sanchez, but it does require a lot of energy, desire and willingness to work hard for the team - all the traits and attributes associated with Sanchez.
Therefore, If Bamford can start to mirror the Arsenal man's game before the end of his loan spell in the Championship, it is likely to set him up with a better chance of getting first-team football at the Bridge next season.