It was the 31st of January 2013 when Nacho Monreal woke up as a Malaga player and got a call from former team-mate Santi Cazorla asking him to join Arsenal on deadline day. The defender has made 165 Premier League appearances since moving to the Emirates from the La Liga side for £8.5m in 2013 and proven to Arsenal fans that he is their knight in shining armor.
The Spanish international was voted in second place for The Player of The Season by Arsenal fans. Scoring 6 times and having a massive influence in sending the team to the EFL Cup final, Monreal showed exactly how crucial he is to the team. From coming back after a month from injury and scoring a goal and assisting 2 within a matter of 13 minutes against Crystal Palace, to the remarkable goal-line clearance to deny Jay Rodriguez in the victory against West Brom, La Cabra has been exceptional for The Emirates outfit in all aspects.
Nacho Monreal is the only player in the Premier League to make 50 interceptions this season.
Always in the way. pic.twitter.com/BW1zwzWrnZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 11, 2018
3 FA Cups and 3 Community Shields in 5 years is no small feat. Adapting to wherever the gaffer needed him and being a consistent performer is what made Monreal so important for us. Former manager Arsene Wenger heaped praise upon the left back, saying:
“He is absolutely vital for us because he can play center-back in the three, he can play full-back in the four. It gives me many options to choose the tactics of the way we play, before the game. He is confident, he has good timing and he is an intelligent player and a very professional player.”
The Spaniard has also made it clear in the past that every single member of the team is valued and has a role to play. He said:
“It is mandatory to have a really good relationship with your team-mates, we are like a unit. You play like a unit and you spend a lot of time with them. Arsenal is not 11 players, we are 24 amazing players and when one is injured, the other player could play really well.”
The attitude and values of the player is what made Arsene Wenger describe Monreal as a ‘silent leader.’
“First, I knew Nacho Monreal in Spain when he was playing in Osasuna and at Malaga,” Emery said.
“After six years here, I came here and I know him as a new Nacho Monreal. After two weeks, after two months and now, I can say that I am very happy with him because he is 32 years old. But I think physically, with his performances with us in matches, he is playing with a very good level. I think we need to find a new contract with him to stay with the Arsenal team.”
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 12, 2018
I believe there’s a huge task of building a reliable defense for Emery. However, the presence of a versatile figure like Nacho Monreal can make things easier for him. A player who has more experience of the Premier League compared to other defenders at Emery’s disposal and who has the ability to fire in goals and create chances when required is exactly why the North Londoners can’t let his contract expire.