Arsenal can boast quite a few stellar players such as Mesut Ozil, Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, and the like. However, in this mix of players, we often miss out one name that has been the backbone of Arsenal’s defence this season, and he goes by the name of Nacho Monreal.
Arsenal had to rush through Monreal’s signing in January 2013, meaning the Spaniard was unable to say goodbye to the Malaga fans and his team-mates before heading to the Emirates Stadium. But to make up for it, the 29-year-old flew back to Malaga 24 hours after his Arsenal debut to say an emotional farewell to the supporters. This proves his undeterred sense of loyalty towards the team and the fans, and the Gunners are indeed lucky to have him.
Monreal has gone from strength to strength with each year he’s spent at Arsenal, going from the club’s second-choice left-back to arguably the Premier League’s best in his position. If he keeps up this rate of improvement, who knows what he can go on to achieve.
To play in Arsenal’s defence, you need to be able to fit in with their style of play, but also provide the tough tackling that they have so lacked in recent years. Fortunately, Monreal is more than capable in both of these departments. The Spaniard has registered 38 tackles in the Premier League this season, which is more than any other Arsenal player has managed.
And, even more remarkably, he even had the highest pass success rate in the whole of the Champions League last season, finishing up with a passing accuracy rate of 96.8%.
Soon after arriving at the Emirates, Monreal found himself stuck on the outside looking in as Kieran Gibbs cemented his place as the club’s first choice left-back. But Monreal quietly went about being second-choice, and through hard work and personal improvement has become the club’s undisputed first-choice. Some players speak out publicly when they’re not getting enough game time, but we never heard so much as a peep out of Monreal, and credit to him for that.
Monreal is undoubtedly Mr Consistent, and the Gunners are certainly more dependable when he’s in the side. He has played in all of Arsenal’s 22 league matches this season and Wenger recently praised the defender, saying: “What has been important is the regularity of his performances, the fact he has improved every year since he arrived.”
He has signed a long-term contract at Arsenal. The 29-year-old has become the first choice left-back with the Premier League leaders over the past year, having been signed by Arsène Wenger from Málaga for around £8.3m in January 2013.
If Monreal is the backbone, then our spine is made of gelatin. He has never been very impressive to me, and emblematic of Wenger’s myriad of problems, most notably failure to shore up his defense. Good teams target Monreal- who can forget Bayern leaving Douglas Costa on Monreal’s side-and he doesn;t have the pace to join in attack. I couldn’t disagree more. I am willing to bet that the first goal they score will be from his side.