The role of a full-back is more important than ever in the modern game, especially at the top level, but West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell is making easy work of adapting to the Premier League.
The 24-year-old signed from Championship outfit Ipswich Town in the summer for around £3.5 million and is looking like a shrewd acquisition.
In eleven appearances for West Ham the flying left-back has displayed immense quality. He can bomb forward, go past players and whip in a great delivery – evidenced by his two superb assists; he claimed 13 of them for Ipswich last term.
The width he provides in attacking areas is vital in generating options for his team-mates and helps the side to play the more aesthetically pleasing football that has been on show this season.
Cresswell’s passing in general is usually very good and he is very composed in possession which makes him a reliable outlet for the side.
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He is competent going back towards his own goal, too, with his pace allowing him to recover his position quickly. He doesn’t dive in to tackles and always plays with enthusiasm and desire, running tirelessly down the wings and pressing opponents.
Premier League quality
Cresswell had feared in the past that his aspirations of playing in the Premier League were over after being released from his boyhood club Liverpool as a 15-year-old apprentice, however successful spells at Tranmere and Ipswich followed and now he is back playing in a division his talent belongs.
The Englishman has been a figure of interest from several top flight clubs in recent years and many may now regret not snapping up the defender when they had the chance. Sam Allardyce has completed a major coup; Cresswell looks like has been playing in the Premier League for years which is a testament to his quality.
Top sides always have incredible full-backs that are as comfortable in attack as they are in defence. It is a requisite for them to be attack-minded in the modern game but ones of real quality don’t come around often. West Ham will be thrilled they have signed one on a permanent basis, at 24, meaning he will have a big part to play in their present and future.
Other than Leighton Baines and possibly Cesar Azpilicueta, Cresswell has been perhaps the best and most consistent left-back in the league this season. I’m sure one of the so-called ‘big boys’ wouldn’t mind having him in their side. Manchester City could certainly do with someone of his quality after Gael Clichy’s poor run of performances which has seen him targeted by opposition who see him as a weakness.
Cresswell’s form has led to speculation that he deserves an England call-up. Manchester United’s Luke Shaw currently has the deputy role behind Baines, however, if going on this season alone, Cresswell has upstaged Shaw – the former Southampton man has struggled since returning from an injury, although he did put in a man of the match performance against Crystal Palace last week. Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs is also vying for the role and was selected for the latest England squad.
Cresswell’s ability and form definitely warrants a chance on the international scene at some point, it is surely only a matter of time before Roy Hodgson looks his way, but he must overcome some tough competition to get into the starting XI.