For all the compliments directed towards Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, there is another member of this Arsenal team who has quickly become a crowd favorite and that is Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has been in top form this season, producing consistent displays week in week out which has propelled Arsenal to the top this season.
Monreal joined the Gunners in January 2013 from La Liga side Malaga for a fee of £8.3m. Initially, the 29 year old, struggled to adapt to the speed of the Premier League and often found himself playing second fiddle to Kieran Gibbs. However, he has turned things around in the last season-and-a-half and has become an integral part of the north Londoners’ starting XI.
Arsenal recently confirmed that left-back Nacho Monreal has penned a new long-term deal with the Premier League leaders. The news was welcomed with cheers amongst the Gunner faithfuls with many believing he is criminally underrated by some of their fellow supporters and rival fans across the division.
Monreal looked like an accident waiting to happen during his early days in English football. But last season he shifted into gear and was excellent, establishing himself as Arsene Wenger’s first choice ahead of Kieran Gibbs. He may not offer the drive ability as other left backs in the world, but Monreal is as dependable as they come, shown by the fact that he didn’t make a single defensive error last season.
In games where his fellow defenders have struggled to contain the opposition, the Spanish international has stood strong and defended fearlessly. There were rumours earlier this season that Monreal wanted to move abroad but after penning a new deal last week those have been put to bed for now. If Arsenal are going to end their Premier League drought this season, they will be praying that Monreal maintains his form for the next four months.
When compared to other Left backs in the country, the Spanish player stands head and shoulders above the rest. Luke Shaw started the season brilliantly before he suffered a season ending injury. Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov has had his moments but unfortunately they have been too far apart. Alberto Moreno still looks defensively fragile and Leicester City’s Christian Fuchs was slow to get his season started and has just come into form.
Ask any Arsenal fan and they will tell you that Monreal gives a steady 8/10 every match. He’s tenacious, courageous, tough, fast and he reads the game very well. When compared to other left backs on the continent like Jordi Alba, Marcelo and Ricardo Rodriguez, one notices that the Arsenal player has the highest interceptions made per game with 2.84, along with that his tackles, blocks and aerial duels place him on the second spot. This is truly impressive for a man whose name one didn’t hear 3 years ago. One place where the former Malaga player lags behind is his contribution in the attacking third when compared to the other Left backs on the continent. None the less there is no doubt that given a lengthy run in the team, Monreal will surely scale higher peaks in the near future.