Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has likened Alexis Sanchez to Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and David Beckham due to Chile's reliance on the forward.

One of the most important players for La Roja, Sanchez helped Chile to their first-ever Copa America title when they defeated Argentina in the final via penalties in 2015, with the 28-year-old scoring the winning penalty.

The South American nation followed up their 2015 achievement with a second consecutive triumph in the Copa America Centenario in 2016, defeating Argentina in the final once again via penalties.

However, Chile were unable to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following their 3-0 loss to Brazil on Tuesday (10 October), meaning that Sanchez will be one of the key players who will not be featuring in Russia next summer.

Speaking ahead of the north London club's league trip to Watford on the weekend, Wenger compared the Chilean forward to a number of big names who were also heavily influential for their nations.

"I would say you have in every generation a player who carries the pressure of expectation of a nation," Wenger said, as quoted by FourFourTwo. "In France, it was Zidane. In England, it was Beckham. We had other players in the team but it was Beckham. Why not [Steven] Gerrard? I don't know. But it was Beckham.

"In Chile, it's Sanchez. In Argentina, of course, it's Messi. It looks like that there is somebody there in a national team who has to carry the pressure and absorb it and protect a little the rest of the team.

"It's someone normally who likes it a little bit. They like to be on the front line. Overall, what does it mean? It means they have to deal with the lows as well."

The French manager also cast doubts on whether Sanchez, who Wenger admitted could leave in the January transfer window, would be in the right state of mind for the Gunners' clash against Watford.

"He is as well in a very difficult mind," Wenger explained. "Chile just won the Copa America twice and now they don't even go to the World Cup.

"Sanchez is 29 at the end of the year, so the next one he will be 33. He expected to go. Certainly [it's] a big disappointment for him. But I believe to play at the top level as well, it is part of dealing with that kind of disappointment."

Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez
Messi and Sanchez in action during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Getty