Nacho Monreal going under the radar despite stellar performances

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A tough beginning to his Arsenal career saw Nacho Monreal dropped to the bench, playing as a backup for England international Kieran Gibbs.

Joining on deadline day, in the 2013 January transfer window for around £7 million, Monreal was added as a squad player as Arsene Wenger looked to continue his run of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League every year since joining the club in 1996.

That 2012/13 season saw Arsenal claim the fourth place spot by just a point over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.


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The 2013/14 season produced the same outcome with fourth place secured once again in a season where the Gunners conceded 41 goals as Gibbs continued to be the first choice left back.

During the next campaign, Arsenal finished third, with Monreal becoming more prominent in the first team over Gibbs. As a result, the side conceded 36, an improvement of five.

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The Spaniard is now very much a fixed member of Wenger’s plans and although Gibbs remains fit, he can't get his place back - meaning the Englishman is only rarely called upon as an extra defensive body when Arsenal are seeing out a result.

It was also in the 2014/15 season that Monreal really became a fan favourite, slotting the ball past David de Gea in an FA Cup tie at Old Trafford as Arsenal knocked out old rivals Manchester United.

Arsenal went on to win the FA Cup for the second time in a row, with Monreal being part of the team that played in the final.


In this year's Champions League, Wenger took a different tactical approach, completely changing his side and lost points in games they should have won.

The team was adjusted and back came Monreal and co and the English side successfully beat favourites of the group Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Emirates.

Many pundits actually focused on Bayern’s attacking options, particularly Douglas Costa and Thomas Muller and how they would trouble the Arsenal full-backs. But it turned out that Monreal found the task easy with the term ‘pocketed’ being used to describe how left-back dealt with the German.

Wenger's side were able to turn their disastrous start around and advanced to the last 16, drawing the holders Barcelona, against whom Monreal will be a certain starter.

Arsenal FC v FC Bayern Munchen - UEFA Champions League

Arsenal have revealed a new deal is being presented to Monreal which will keep him at the club until 2019.

It is very hard to find a left-back in Europe, let alone in England who has performed better than Monreal. The usual contenders of David Alaba, Marcelo and Jordi Alba would be thrown around but the 29-year-old currently playing in north London is in such good form that he wouldn't look out of place in any of the top clubs in Europe.

The Guardian placed Monreal in their team of the season so far and it isn't difficult to see why. He is perhaps the most underrated player in the entire Premier League right now.

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Arsene Wenger
Premier League
Nacho Monreal

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