Despite preparing myself thoroughly for another frustrating and disappointing deadline day, as other teams scurried around rushing through paperwork for their latest marquee signing and Wenger simply sat and muttered about the hordes of players that would be coming back from injury (a list which only actually consists of just 3 players that could be considered of any importance- Arteta, Gibbs and now Vermaelen). But as I watched Sky Sports News- more in hope than expectation- I was met with the pleasant news of an Arsenal signing- Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal. But will his play live up to his excellent name?
As the dust settles and Gooners have begun to run the rule over Arsenal's latest acquisition, the consensus seems to be mainly positive. My initial reaction to the move was that it was a panic buy- following the injury to Gibbs, stoking fears that he may just be a slimmer version of Santos. So I was understandably relieved to hear that we have allegedly been tracking him for a while, (although that does seem to be the case with every player we sign) and that the transfer has simply been shunted forward a few months, with Wenger planning to sign him in the summer prior to Gibbs' injury.
Looking at his career so far it seems Nacho is heading to London with a reasonable résumé. At 26 years old, he should be reaching the peak of his career, so hopefully his finest times will come in a red and white shirt. A product of CA Osasuna's youth academy, he went on to play 127 times for the La Liga outfit, with Cesar Azpilicueta- now of Chelsea starting alongside him at right-back. In 2011, he transferred to Malaga for the reasonable fee of €6 million, where he featured heavily in a season which saw Malaga finish fourth, making the Champions League for the first time. Since 2009, Nacho has also gained 9 caps for Spain- hopefully a good indicator of his quality, as the Spanish team are hardly mugs.
In terms of build and style, Nacho seems to be the archetypal modern Spanish footballer- relatively small at 5ft 10 and fairly slight at a weight of 72 kg. By all accounts, this makes Nacho the kind of footballer who should fit in well with Le Professor’s possession football. His mobility and skill, which should allow him to get forward successfully have been the main talk of football pundits casting their eye over Nacho, but his defensive qualities should not be underestimated. Coming through the youth ranks as a full-back, he should have good positional sense- something which has often been the shortfall of Kieran Gibbs- a player who I believe incidentally started out was a left-winger. Similar to his ex-teammate Azpilicueta, he is strong and firm in the tackle and is generally a astute and well-drilled defender who should bring stability to a side of our defence with has been a cause for concern in recent weeks. He is also said to possess good crossing ability- something particularly useful given the presence of Olivier Giroud- along with the fact that Sagna’s crossing can be somewhat suspect, but Nacho should offer a high-quality supply of crosses to the head of the big Frenchman. Overall, despite his rather more eye-catching nickname, Nacho generally seems to be seen as quite a solid, dependable full-back, who understands who to strike a good equilibrium between defence ad attack- just the type of player Arsenal’s cavalier and erratic defensive line may require.
|Nacho- A source of stability?|
At a fee believed to be around £8.5 million Nacho hasn’t come cheap, but he seems to be type of player who could just steady the ship in defence- like Arteta did to an extent last season in the midfield, when he was an invaluable asset. We shouldn’t be expecting a world-beater, but he certainly will be better than Santos- a lot better. We just better hope the Brazilian doesn’t mistake his new companion for a tasty snack.
Here's some clips of our new man in action for you to sample: