Alexis Sanchez.

Alexis will hope for Barcelona reunion

Much has been made about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returning to the Nou Camp, the scene of his greatest night as a Manchester United player, after his Reds were paired with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The draw also means Gerard Pique, the towering centre-back, will face his old team - he was in the Reds' Champions League-winning squad of 2008 before lifting the same trophy with Barca at our expense in the 2009 and 2011 finals and once more, against Juventus, in 2015.

Yet the tantalising tie has arguably even greater resonance for Alexis Sanchez, who will no doubt be busting a gut in a bid to be back from a knee injury ahead of schedule to take on his former club.

Solskjaer recently suggested he hoped the Chilean could return to action around the time of the Everton game in the Premier League, but the trip to Spain comes earlier that week, with the second leg taking place at the Nou Camp on Tuesday 16 April.

Alexis Sanchez gives the thumbs up.
Alexis arrives in Spain to sign for Barcelona in 2011.

Barcelona beat a host of suitors to sign the South American in the summer of 2011 and he spent three seasons in La Liga.

Acquired by current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, before going on to play under Tito Vilanova and Gerardo Martino, Alexis made 141 appearances for the Catalan club, the vast majority of them as a team-mate of Lionel Messi.

The Chilean scored 47 times for them and also supplied 35 assists as he was part of a vibrant attacking unit.

In his first year, he helped Barcelona win the UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey; in the following campaign, 2012/13, they dominated in La Liga, winning the title with 100 points on the board. Alexis then notched an impressive 19 league goals in his final season at the club before joining Arsenal in the summer of 2014.

As for his Champions League stats with Barcelona, he played 24 games, scoring three times. 

Alexis Sanchez hugs Lionel Messi.
Alexis shares a hug with Lionel Messi during their time at Barcelona together.

Even though it's now almost five years since he left the Nou Camp, Alexis was spotted attending a game there earlier this month, a 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano, as the 30-year-old continues his rehabilitation from injury.

“It wasn’t easy to leave Barcelona,” he said in 2016. “I fulfilled a dream when I moved there – to play in Spain and for the champions – but very few players stay at the same club all their life. To leave is normal.

”I wanted a new project, a new experience. And with so many attacking players at Barca it was a good choice to go.

Alexis Sanchez gets past Daniel Alves.
Alexis escapes the attentions of Dani Alves during a Champions League tie at the Emirates Stadium.

Alexis has already come up against his ex-employers in the competition before, setting up a goal on his old patch.

In the last 16 of the Champions League in 2015/16, he was part of the Arsenal team beaten 2-0 at home by Barcelona before a 3-1 reverse at the Nou Camp. Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all scored for the Catalan giants, with Mohamed Elneny netting for the visitors from an Alexis pass.

The United forward will be keen to get back to fitness soon in order to have an outside chance of playing at the great arena once again. After all, he has already scored against another of his former sides this season - Arsenal, on their home turf, in January.

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