By 90Min
October 17, 2017

In a team that boasts the names of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, it’s somewhat expected that as an unspectacular, 'no frills' defender your performances aren't going to get the spotlight.

However, Spanish defender Nacho Monreal, who has been a mainstay in the Arsenal squad since his arrival from Malaga in 2013, he still doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves for his stellar performances.

The Basque star has been a model of consistency ever since he arrived at the Emirates and yet his performances rarely create headlines or generate effusive praise from pundits and fans. He was brought to the club to fill the ‘problem position’ of left-back at Arsenal, and he accomplished that task with aplomb.

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Versatile


When Arsenal played in a 4-2-3-1 formation, you could often see Monreal marauding down the left-hand side, becoming an option for the attacking unit. However, at the tail end of last season, Arsene Wenger made a tactical decision to switch formation and the results have seen the 31-year-old blossom into an even better player.

Slotting in as one of the three centre-backs, the Spanish international has seen the best parts of his game come to fruition. 

He has never had the blistering pace of Bellerin, or the physical capabilities of Laurent Koscielny, but Monreal’s awareness of the game accompanied with his defensive positioning and passing ability have made him a key component of the Arsenal defence. 

Consistent

Comfortable with the ball, Monreal boasted an 85% pass completion percentage last season along with 12 chances created for his team. Wenger's system requires defenders to be competent with the ball, and it is in this respect that Monreal leads by example.

One of the best, and most underrated, abilities in football is availability - half the battle is showing up - and in this regard, amongst his injury-prone teammates, Monreal is virtually peerless, having missed a total of three Premier League games last season.

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Quiet Resolution

His knack for getting the job done without fuss is  another essential ingredient in Wenger's team. Case in point, Monreal put in man-of-the-match performances against both West Brom and Brighton this season, helping to marshal the defence to two clean sheets, against potential 'banana skin' opponents.

Despite all this, Monreal more than likely won’t be at the forefront of the acclaim come the end of the season. His resolute performances won’t draw the same praise as the attackers for obvious reasons. 

He won’t be spoken about in the same manner as Sanchez, or Ozil, or even Olivier Giroud and he won’t be heralded for winning the team games. 

But maybe that’s the way he wants it.

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