The Nacho Man

By George Walker

Thoughts on Arsenal's deadline-day signing

Despite preparing myself thoroughly for another frustrating and disappointing deadline-day, as other teams scurried around rushing through paperwork for their latest marquee signing and Wenger simply sat and muttered about the hordes of players that would be coming back from injury (a list which actually consists of just three players that could be considered of any importance - Arteta, Gibbs and now Vermaelen), and as I watched Sky Sports News - more in hope than expectation - I was met with the pleasant news of an Arsenal signing, Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal. But will his play live up to his excellent name?

Nacho - Source of stability?

As the dust settles and Gooners have begun to run the rule over Arsenal's latest acquisition, the consensus seems to be mainly positive. My initial reaction to the move was that it was a panic buy following the injury to Gibbs, stoking fears that he may just be a slimmer version of Santos. So I was understandably relieved to hear that we have allegedly been tracking him for a while (although that does seem to be the case with every player we sign), and that the transfer has simply been shunted forward a few months, with Wenger planning to sign him in the summer prior to Gibbs' injury.

Looking at his career so far, it seems Nacho is heading to London with a reasonable résumé. At 26 years old, he should be reaching the peak of his career, so hopefully his finest times will come in a red and white shirt. A product of CA Osasuna's youth academy, he went on to play 127 times for the La Liga outfit, with Cesar Azpilicueta, now of Chelsea, starting alongside him at right-back. In 2011, he transferred to Malaga for the reasonable fee of €6 million, where he featured heavily in a season which saw Malaga finish fourth, making the Champions League for the first time. Since 2009, Nacho has also gained nine caps for Spain, hopefully a good indicator of his quality, as the Spanish team are hardly mugs.

In terms of build and style, Nacho seems to be the archetypal modern Spanish footballer - relatively small at 5ft 10in and fairly slight at a weight of 72 kg. By all accounts, this makes Nacho the kind of footballer who should fit in well with Le Professeur’s possession football. His mobility and skill, which should allow him to get forward successfully, have been the main talk of football pundits casting their eye over Nacho, but his defensive qualities should not be underestimated. Coming through the youth ranks as a full-back, he should have good positional sense - something which has often been the shortfall of Kieran Gibbs, a player who I believe incidentally started out as a left-winger.

Similar to his ex-teammate Azpilicueta, Nacho is strong and firm in the tackle and is generally an astute and well-drilled defender who should bring stability to an aspect of our defence which has been a cause for concern in recent weeks. He is also said to possess good crossing ability - something particularly useful given the presence of Olivier Giroud (along with the fact that Sagna’s crossing can be somewhat suspect) but Nacho should offer a high-quality supply of crosses to the head of the big Frenchman. Overall, despite his rather more eye-catching nickname, Nacho generally seems to be seen as quite a solid, dependable full-back, who understands how to strike a good equilibrium between defence and attack - just the type of player Arsenal’s cavalier and erratic defensive line may require.

At a fee believed to be around £8.5 million, Nacho hasn’t come cheap, but he seems to be the type of player who could just steady the ship in defence, like Arteta did to an extent last season in the midfield, when he was an invaluable asset. We shouldn’t be expecting a world-beater, but he certainly will be better than Santos - a lot better. We had just better hope the Brazilian doesn’t mistake his new companion for a tasty snack.

4th February 2013 09:00:00


Comments and Reaction

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Moscow Gooner  7:10am 4th Feb 2013

AW quote: 'We worked very hard on it, we were everywhere. In the Africa Cup of Nations, the best player is Gervinho and we already have Gervinho. It is very difficult for top clubs to find someone in the middle of the season.' If Wenger truly believes that Gervinho is the answer and that we can't get anyone better we're in much deeper trouble than I thought... - Post No. 34140

James  7:31am 4th Feb 2013

Panic buy.Not in a million years would we have signed him if Gibbs hadnt got injured.Not saying he's not a good player but dont anyone kid themselves.Wenger finally realised(18 months too late)that Santos is crap and that Gibbs is injury prone and we had to buy. - Post No. 34142

Tony Evans  8:30am 4th Feb 2013

Could be a decent enough player - and probably would be under a manager more defensively astute manager. - Post No. 34143

Camgooner  9:29am 4th Feb 2013

Looked ok, a couple of slips but for a debut after less than a week here very solid. Looked good going forward especially. (Hang on this is all rather familiar...) More seriously we desperately needed to cover Gibbs, but my opinion of Wenger is encapsulated by the fact that if Gibbs' injury had been a week later we'd be facing several weeks/months of Santos: *who Wenger knows isn't good enough* and was going to do nothing about. - Post No. 34145

chris dee  10:35am 4th Feb 2013

Kieron Gibbs has been injury and error prone since he broke into the first team. A more pragmatic,ambitious and ruthless manager would have solved the left back problem 7 years ago (remember Clichy our opposition right wingers best mate)but no, we have taken a punt on a player who might,or might not,fancy the ugly side of the Premiership because Arsene let the left back position develope into a crisis. Bad mangement.Ditto the goalkeeping situation where we now have one promising youngster and two downright average back ups. - Post No. 34147

Paul  11:00am 4th Feb 2013

As Camgooner says what would have happened if Gibbs had got injured a week later.Wengers reliance on always injured players like Gibbs Diaby and Rosicky just doesnt make football or finacial sense.Would Fergie have put up with that? - Post No. 34149

allybear  11:33am 4th Feb 2013

Early days yet for Monreal but it was a decent debut against a team that doesnt like to attack. Moscow Gooner as you say if Wenger thinks that Gervinho is a good player then what hope have we! I dont have any faith in Wenger anymore and still stand over what i said before that he has made some atrocious signings. - Post No. 34151

Red Member  12:44pm 4th Feb 2013

Why were the club planning on waiting until the summer to buy him? - Post No. 34152

Bard  12:56pm 4th Feb 2013

Wenger and transfers is a book in itself. He's only just noticed Gibbs comes from the same gene pool as Rosicky and Diaby ! Baines at £10m was deemed too expensive so he buys Santos for £6m ( useless ) and has to buy Nacho for £8m. He's solved the problem and spent £14m doing it. Work that one out. His comments about Gervinho are bordering on the insane. - Post No. 34153

Knock it long to Raphael Meade  13:10pm 4th Feb 2013

....and here was me thinking the best player at the ACN is YaYa Toure! Good job I haven't worked half a day in football, I'd have got that one wrong and signed Yaya, who is clearly inferior to Rick James. - Post No. 34154

GoonerGoal!  13:50pm 4th Feb 2013

I can hardly believe it, Wenger got something right in the transfer department! It won't get us into the top four or the next round of the Champions League, but we might just make the UEFA Europa League, is that considered a trophy now? And then of course, there is our new song - "Nacho Nacho Man! We've got ourselves a Nacho Man!" - Post No. 34157

AugustusCaesar  14:27pm 4th Feb 2013

We buy a new player in a position where we needed to yet STILL this turns in to an anti-Wenger tirade (re: the comments). There's no pleasing some people. - Post No. 34158

Gare Kekeke  15:02pm 4th Feb 2013

We needed another left-back and we have one. Hopefully Monreal is a massive improvement on the dreadful Santos. A reasonable solid debut against Stoke but I’ll reserve judgement until the early weeks of next season. Let’s give him time to adapt to his new surroundings. But I also think he was a panic buy too due to Gibbs’ enforced lengthy absence (doesn’t Wenger ever learn?). As for Gervinho, well with me being half-Nigerian I absolutely delighted we put the overrated Cote D’Ivoire out of the African Cup of Nations but from an Arsenal perspective it means the tournament’s best player (to quote Wenger) will be back with us very soon. Oh Joy! So come on Wenger, which of the improving players are you going to drop for the best African player that is Gervinho; Giroud or Walcott? An executive decision like this clearly has to be made by those who have worked more than half a day in football. - Post No. 34159

Mike  15:03pm 4th Feb 2013

I think the squad is looking quite good now - despite having the clangers in defense, we have still shipped less goals than Man Utd and have the third best defence in the league if you use the same yardstick - the midfield is as good as any in the league and the new forward signings are regularly getting on the scoresheet - the bench on Saturday had people on it who could come on and make a difference - consistancy is the key from now on and enough of the Jekyl and Hyde syndrome. The team also stood up to the rough tactics on Saturday - btw -Ivory Coast are no longer in the Africa Cup of Nations so I guess the likes of YaYa and Drogba now fall into the same catergory as Gervinho - Post No. 34160

CT Gooner  15:06pm 4th Feb 2013

@ Augustas Cesar: After going through all of January hearing we'd get a couple of quality signings, and then scambling to sign a left back at the last minute, why should Wenger escape criticism? He didn't move any dead weight, and has provided decent competition in one position. I wanted soo much more, but got what I expected. Hence it's another day to shake my head at the antics of Arsene Wenger.... - Post No. 34161

Ars3nal  15:25pm 4th Feb 2013

AugustusCaesar 14:27pm 4th Feb 2013 We buy a new player in a position where we needed to yet STILL this turns in to an anti-Wenger tirade (re: the comments). There's no pleasing some people. Where do these people come from,Planet BlindOptimism??!! Wenger OTF!! - Post No. 34162

CanadaGooner  17:28pm 4th Feb 2013

It is this haphazard approach that has cost us dearly in the past 7 years, when we have been very close to winning quite a few trophies. We cant continue to bring players in one at a time to fire-fight. A team with Arsenal's resources should be able to sit down and recognize patterns e.g. we seem incapable of keeping a clean sheet (unless we're playing Stoke and other teams like that who just ride in for a draw!), we only have ONE half-reliable goalkeeper, our defending is deplorable: so, what is the answer? BUY ONE DEFENDER? I dont think so. Nacho can be as macho or nacho as he wants, we cant expect him to single-handedly fix a problem we've head for almost 10 years now (and as someone observed previously, even when we were winning doubles with Wenger, we could have won more if he had addressed or even tried to address those defensive frailties) - Post No. 34167

maguiresbridge gooner  17:48pm 4th Feb 2013

I doubt if he'd have been purchased if gibbs hadn't been injured.He had a decent enough debut, and he certainly can't be any worse than who'd have been playing if he hadn't arrived.Like i said earlier he endeared himself to us quickly by drawing blood on one of the cavemen, i'm not advocating dirty play and it certainly wasn't but i don't think any of us wouldn't have a little chuckle if the same thing were to happen with a spud with the features of a monkey.Lets hope he does steady the ship that's if he's allowed to,and not played in midfield. - Post No. 34171

AusieRobb  0:49am 5th Feb 2013

The signing of Monreal distracts from the awful fact that Wenger did not buy anyone else this January....no defensive midfield player in particular. Our midfield is short on defensive payers. Diaby and Willshire will be overplayed. Frimpong is loaned out again (meaning Wenger doesn't rate him) and we will continue to lose to the top sides. - Post No. 34185

ppp  18:41pm 5th Feb 2013

@AussieRobb How is Frimpong being loaned out proof that Wenger doesn't rate him? Wilshere was loaned. Gibbs was loaned. Both are now fist team players. - Post No. 34214

AusieRobb  21:55pm 5th Feb 2013

ppp:....I guess I am saying that if Wenger really rated hime he would keep him around to play the odd match and reduce the load on Wilshire and Diaby in particular. He was loaned out to Charlton and now to Fulham for the rest of the season....if he is good enough to play 'regularly' for Fulham (Wenger's intention) then he should be good enough to fill in at the Arsenal. I fear he will stay part of Wenger's "huge' squad and get no play time, as for Arshavin, Miquel, Squllachi etc etc. - Post No. 34218

Gooner Fan  3:42am 8th Feb 2013

@PPP: I don't know if Wenger doesn't rate Frimpong. But we have seen this in the past that many youngsters like him who are repeatedly loaned out to various clubs before being sold eventually like with Vela, Bartley, etc. I fear the serious injuries he suffered and any future injuries will hamper his chances at first team chance and the likes of Coquelin is ahead of him in the pecking order. It's shame too, because you can tell that Frimpong really loves playing for the club more than any players besides Wilshere. - Post No. 34278

Wombledin  9:40am 9th Feb 2013

Stupid last sentence to an otherwise decent article. - Post No. 34309

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