There is no question that attacking players definitely receive more attention than defenders. After all, strikers are the ones to score the majority of the goals and are subject to astronomical transfer fees more often than the rest of the squad; however, when discussing consistency, Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal takes the cake over his offensive teammates.
Alexis and Mesut Özil are widely considered as Arsenal’s top players, and rightly so. The Chile international is one of the best forwards in the entire Premier League and looks very much like a bargain following his £35 million move from Barcelona. Alexis has netted 34 goals (as well as 18 assists) during his first year-and-a-half in north London and his play was rewarded with a spot in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2014-15 season.
Özil has also been superb this season. The German playmaker is leading the world in assists at the moment (13) and could quite possibly be the best number 10 on the planet as well. If the season ended today, Özil would be in the running for Premier League Player of the Year and would undoubtedly have a place in the PFA Team of the Year. While some pundits have been slow to praise the German since his arrival to the team in 2013, no one (outside of David Moyes) would dare to slate Özil at this point of his career.
As good as the aforementioned dynamic duo has been for the Gunners, Monreal has somehow flown under the radar, despite playing at a level on par with the two superstars. No, Monreal doesn’t score a ton of goals like Alexis, nor does he rack up assists equal to Özil; however, the defender possesses a perfect blend of defensive stability at the back and adequate support for his midfield and forward teammates in advance positions.
Comparing Monreal to other players at his position in the Premier League and one can see just how valuable the Spaniard has been this season. Nacho has racked up more interceptions (46) and boasts a superior duels percentage (59%) than Cesar Azpilicueta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Ryan Bertrand, and Alberto Moreno. Going forward, the Arsenal player also has a higher successful passing percentage (85%) and more assists (2) than the other four top Premier League left backs as well.
Although the former Malaga player took some time to settle in to the squad, Monreal should now be considered as one of Arsenal’s top players. His level of consistency has ranked among the league’s elite since the beginning of the calendar year and could (and should) be in contention for the PFA Team of the Year, ahead of the quartet of left backs mentioned above.
While reports have recently surfaced that clubs in Spain are trying to pry Monreal away from the Gunners, the player reaffirmed his desire to remain in north London not long ago. It also appears unlikely that manager Arsene Wenger would let a top defender go during next month’s transfer market.