Nacho Monreal: Underrated?

Nacho Monreal may be the most underrated Arsenal player in the squad.
The Spaniard has been a mainstay in the Arsenal squad since his arrival from Malaga in 2013, but he still doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves for his stellar performances.
In a team that boasts the names of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, it’s highly unlikely that your performances are going to get the acclaim that they deserve. Nacho Monreal has been a model of consistency since he has arrived at the Emirates and yet his performances are rarely praised. He was brought to the club to fill the ‘problem position’ of left-back at Arsenal, and he accomplished that task with aplomb.
When Arsenal were in their 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 to the 3-4-2-1 and the results have seen Monreal 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. Very capable with the ball, Monreal boasted an 85% pass completion percentage last season along with 12 chances created for his team. Playing in Arsenal’s system requires the defenders to be competent with the ball and this is something that Monreal can boast he has in his arsenal.
There is no doubt that the Spaniard is an integral part of the defence now. The best ability in football is availability and in the last three seasons, Monreal has missed a total of three Premier League games. His knack for being in the right place at the right time is an essential part of the winning streak that Arsenal are currently on. Case in point, his Man-of-the-Match performance against Brighton in the Arsenal’s last fixture. In a game where Arsenal were expected to and did dominate, Monreal still stood out for marshalling the defence to another clean sheet.
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 because quite frankly, it is an attack driven league. He won’t be spoken about in the same manner as his teammates and he won’t be heralded for winning the team games. But maybe that’s the way he wants it, to remain in the shadows and allowing the team to be victorious.

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