Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers claimed new signing Joe Allen has got the skill and passing ability of a Spanish player – which other British stars suit the Spanish style?
“This boy, when you see him play you'd think he was a Spanish player, a real European player - I would have paid many more millions for this kid,” said Rodgers after completing the £15million signing.
“He's unique in that he is a British player who just does not give the ball away. You will see that and the difference he can make.”
Whether this is the case or not remains to be seen, but it led GMF to wonder whether there were other players from the British Isles that could be given the same accolade.
It is an accolade too, as Spain’s tiki-taka football led them to two consecutive European Championship titles, sandwiching a World Cup triumph – they don’t look like letting up either.
A number of British players could claim to be the best of their generation, but this does not necessarily mean they would be able to fit into the style of play adopted by Vicente del Bosque’s side.
It took some time, but GMF came up with a list of five that could tiki-taka their way around La Liga or for Spain (that doesn’t necessarily mean they would get in the team).
Here they are:
Paul Scholes, Manchester United
One of Old Trafford’s favourite sons may be close to the end of his career, but his return from retirement to help United try to defend their title proved how important he is to the side.
Sometimes under-valued by the Premier League, Scholes was always held in great regard around Europe for his passing ability. The little look around before he receives the ball is always a pleasure to watch and has a lot to do with the amount of time and space he seems to have on the ball.
Controlling the rhythm of football matches comes as second nature to the 37-year-old and Sir Alex Ferguson has struggled to find a replacement for him in the heart of the United midfield, though young star Tom Cleverley has been tipped to take up Scholes mantle.
Jack Wilshere, Arsenal
Injury deprived the Gunners of the services of one of their best players for the whole of last season, but also meant England were without one of the most technically gifted midfielders for Euro 2012.
Wilshere has been at Emirates Stadium since he was a boy and it seems as though he has become an embodiment of ‘the Arsenal way’ that Arsene Wenger implemented when he took over the north London club.
Learning his trade with players such as Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have meant Wilshere is unusually comfortable with the ball at his feet in tight situations for a an English youth player. Arsenal fans will be hoping there are no more injury setbacks before October so they can once again watch a player who looks destined to become a club great.
Josh McEachran, Chelsea
While McEachran’s development has been slower than hoped by those at Stamford Bridge, the young Englishman has shown glimpses of some real technical brilliance, in terms of passing the ball and controlling the tempo of a game.
Chances to push into the Blues first team are limited, such is the gravitas attached to a number of names at Stamford Bridge, but the 19-year-old has plenty of time to work on that and may even benefit from a season on loan at a lesser Premier League – as Jack Wilshere did with his loan move to Bolton Wanderers.
Joe Cole, Liverpool
Steven Gerrard is, quite rightly, the king of Anfield, but his skills are different from the one-touch interchange that Spain are purveyors of. However, Joe Cole has always been one of the more technically gifted players of his generation, while not quite fulfilling his potential.
Brendan Rodgers comments since taking over suggest the former Chelsea man has a chance to resurrect his career at Liverpool and there is no doubting Cole’s ability to fit into the former Swansea City manager’s Spanish passing style of play.
Cole has never really been given a chance to operate as anything other than a wide player – though this is a lot to do with his brilliant work rate and speed over short distances – but you would hope that he can really begin to show his prowess as a playmaker behind a striker if Rodgers lets him.
Mark Davies, Bolton Wanderers
This may have come as a shock to some, but Mark Davies really is an impressively technical footballer and showed it on a number of occasions last season. Despite Bolton’s doomed season, they tried to play good football under Owen Coyle and were successful in doing so many times, but suicidal defending and lack of a prolific goalscorer put paid to their Premier League status.
Davies’ close control, accurate passing and nose for the odd goal stood out in a midfield that lacked a certain amount of quality. The 24-year-old does lack physical presence and, regrettably, this counts for more the lower down English football you go.
Injuries stalled his early career, but Davies has been making up for lost time since and is reputation has been growing. Any doubts about his quality can be answered by the fact that Swansea City have reportedly had a bid rejected for him, while Liverpool have also been linked with an interest.
What do you think of GMF’s tiki-taka Brits choices? Which other British players do you think could fit into a Spanish-style passing game?
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