El Centrocampista

Arsenal’s latest Spanish investment could pay dividend for shrewd Wenger

Photo: PA Images

Photo: PA Images

They say when purchasing something the overall experience and outcome determine whether or not you return to the same place and spend your hard earned cash again.

For Arsene Wenger the decision to bring in Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Monreal Eraso from Malaga was a decidedly easy one. Arsenal’s first Malagan experience came in the shape of Santi Cazorla, a World Cup winner who been one of the stand out performers in Premier League since arriving from Andalusia last summer.

There exists a myth that Wenger does not panic buy. He refuses to have his hand forced by pressure from the board or the fans, something he is both loved and loathed for.
Nonetheless, the Frenchman himself will tell you that the injury suffered by Keiran Gibbs on Wednesday night did force his hand somewhat.

Admittedly Monreal has been tracked by Arsenal for some time. Impressive displays against European giants AC Milan, Zenit and Anderlecht in the Champions League highlighted what most in La Liga already knew – the man named ‘Nacho’ is a class act.

The 26-year-old has the mobility Arsenal’s play demands and possess a sublime left foot. Monreal is also composed on the ball and has provided an assured presence at the back for the Andaluz outfit. In fact it could be said Monreal is a player have been crying out for.

First establishing himself at home-town club Osasuna where he rose through the ranks, Monreal has since become one of the most sought-after left backs in Spanish football following his €6 million transfer to Malaga in the summer of 2011.

Making 45 appearances under Manuel Pellegrini, it is true to say Malaga did not want to sell Monreal, however, similar to Cazorla’s move to England, the under-fire club had little choice. Malaga’s loss is certainly Arsenal’s gain.

The North London club have experienced defensive frailties  in recent months, and it has been clear to most fans that it was an area that needed to be addressed.  What 26-year-old Monreal brings is a steady head, with a fair bit of experience under his belt. He is sure to help calm what has been a sometimes indisciplined back four.

That is not to say things are all bad at The Emirates Stadium. Keiran Gibbs has been touted as the next England left back, and the future of Arsenal along with their budding crop of British youngsters. However, Monreal has not been brought in just for cover, the Spaniard will provide some serious competition.

When you consider that the only minor detail keeping Monreal from the Spanish left back position regularly is the meteoric rise of Jordi Alba, the true extent of ‘Nacho’s’ ability becomes apparent.

For the first time since the departure of Gael Clichy, Arsenal now have two quality left backs, freeing up Thomas Vermaelen to return to his customary position of centre back,  after filling in a left back on more than one occasion.

Recent history also suggests Monreal will prove more than capable of reaching the top in English football. For proof of that, you need look no further than Stamford Bridge where fellow Osasuna youth product  Cesar Azpilicueta is currently impressing for Chelsea.

Monreal is much the same player, offering a clever balance between defence and attack. The 26-year-old also possess a decent cross – something that Olivier Giroud should be pleased to hear.

In short, Arsenal have done another fantastic bit of business in La Liga. A first class player, Monreal will certainly be missed at Malaga, however, a new chapter in his life has begun. One can only hope he can reach the type of form that Cazorla has found at Arsenal. Anything close and he’ll be a fans favourite for sure.


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