Five Players Who Have Impressed This Month
I'm a Freelancer Football Journalist who specialises in writing about European Football, as well as the newly-founded NextGen Series. I've written for the likes of Goal.com, Mir...
Which players are having an impact this season? Today on the blog Joe Krishnan once again delivers his five players who have impressed over the past month.
The European season is in full swing now, with the early failings of the big clubs such as Manchester United way in the past as normal service is resumed in the Premier League. Can the same be said for La Liga and Serie A?
Well, no it can’t. Although Juventus are running away with the league yet again, their remarkable 49-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at the hands of Internazionale, and worse of all, at their so-called fortress (and also the marvellously-named) ‘Juventus Stadium’. Barcelona have taken 31 points from a maximum 33, yet it’s Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side who sit in 2nd place, and not Jose Mourinho’s, while Real Betis and Malaga struggle to keep up.
But enough of that, that’s not why I’m here. You want to see which players have impressed me in the past month of whom you may not be aware of? Please, come this way. I can almost sense your eager anticipation…
Roberto Soldado (Valencia)
There seems to be a pattern emerging pattern from Real Madrid’s youth system. They’ve kept some flops in their squads previously, Raul Bravo and Francisco Pavon just a couple of names who only a few Madridstas will want to remember. Instead, they decided to let go some of the best current players in the game. Juan Mata, Filipe Luis and Javi Garcia are just a few of many players who are currently plying their trade in top flight divisions with some of the world’s best clubs. Roberto Soldado is yet another player who Real Madrid will curse they ever let go.
Why, may you ask? I’ll never know. It’s not as if Soldado’s record for Castilla was bad, scoring 64 goals in 120 games. A loan spell to Osasuna saw him finally get some action in La Liga, scoring 11 times. A successful spell at Getafe then allowed him move on to Valencia in 2010, where he has established himself as one of Europe’s top marksmen, helping Los Che to three consecutive 3rd-place finishes, with an impressive return of 39 goals in 76 games, averaging a goal every two games.
Believe it or not, there was a time where he was called up to the Spain squad instead of Fernando Torres, and repaid the faith shown by Del Bosque for his first call-up in five years by scoring a magnificent double after just seven minutes on the pitch against Venezuela. He scored a magnificent hat-trick in Valencia’s 3-0 away win over BATE this season, and it’s no surprise. Soldado is without doubt a superb finisher. His composure in front of goal is perhaps what Torres may lack, and Valencia face a fight to keep him at the Mestalla, especially if Arsenal end up looking for another striker.
Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem)
Here is an unusual entry in the top five players, but there’s a reason as to why Vitesse are third in the Eredivisie table, and it’s not just your usual dosage of pot luck that’s got them there. Among the ranks of a team filled with rising stars, such as the on-loan Chelsea duo of Tomas Kalas and Amine Affane, lies their powerful and prolific striker Wilfried Bony. An Ivory Coast international and a graduate of the Cyrille Domoraud Academy, he certainly has some competition for the national side, with Seydou Doumbia and Didier Drogba scoring on a regular basis, with Gervinho and Salomon Kalou occupying positions on the wing.
But that hasn’t affected his domestic form, as Bony has fired his way to the top of the league’s scoring charts with an incredible return of 12 goals in 11 games. When I interviewed one of Vitesse’s brightest young stars, Brahim Darri, earlier this year, I asked him who he thought was their most valuable player. He simply replied: “Bony”.
Since joining from Sparta Prague in January 2011, Bony has hit an amazing 29 goals in 46 games for the Dutch side, and if he continues to fire them in on a regular basis, he could well find himself on the way out for a large fee, with a move to Germany, Russia and England all mooted in 2013.
Leon Osman (Everton)
Not ever has a player been overlooked for so long by his country when he has been eligible and fit to play for them – except for Mikel Arteta. For many years now, one of the Premier League’s most consistent performers has been ignored by the England managers over the years. Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello all chose to select players based on their status in the game, and sometimes not necessarily based on their form at the time. But under Roy Hodgson, it looks like Leon Osman finally has got what he has longed for since making his Everton debut in 2000: an England call-up, at the age of 31.
Much is owed to Everton manager David Moyes. The Scot, who has been in charge of the Toffees since 2002, is clearly a miracle-worker at Goodison Park and plays Osman in a box-to-box midfield position. But after Everton’s terrific start to the season, Osman has finally got the recognition he deserves for his hard work. Of course, the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic have taken the plaudits for some excellent performances, and rightly so, but Osman has long been one of their most valuable players, similarly like Paul Scholes at Manchester United, going about his business quietly but effectively, with intelligent passing and movement.
With a few goals, including one in the Merseyside derby 2-2 draw with Liverpool, Osman needs to maintain his performances if he is too break into the England set-up.
Erik Lamela (Roma)
As AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato will tell you, moving from South America to Europe for such a large price tag is no walk in the park. The pressure of the price tag, along with language barriers and possible injury problems could harm a player’s adaptation to the league, and sometimes can end in the player ending his unhappy spell and moving back home. Okay, we’re not talking about Pato here, but instead, Roma’s playmaker Erik Lamela. Despite speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid, the Argentinian moved from his native club River Plate to Italian club Roma for a fee of around €15 million last summer.
He struggled under manager Luis Enrique at first, as did many of Roma’s players, with the club finishing in a lowly 7th position, a massive 28 points behind eventual Serie A winners Juventus and out of the European qualification positions. But under Zdenek Zeman, Roma have flourished with Lamela usually at the forefront of their performances. Not only is he a creative force, but he’s scored eight goals in 12 appearances this season, a return his team-mate Pablo Osvaldo would be proud of.
At 21 years old, Lamela certainly has a big future ahead of him. He may be tall and lanky, but his footwork is phenomenal, and his eye for goal could be key for Roma if they are to qualify for Europe this season.
Benat (Real Betis)
If you’re a keen follower of La Liga, you would’ve seen Benat’s unstoppable free-kick against Getafe last week. Some may have witnessed their jaw drop to the floor, others would’ve nodded their head with approval, already aware of just what the 25-year-old is capable of doing. Yet, it’s been a bumpy ride to the top for the Basque-born midfield general.
He started his career with Athletic Bilbao but never quite made the grade at San Mames, dropping down to their B team before being shipped out on loan to third-tier outfit UB Conquense. However, Betis recognised his potential and signed him on a free transfer back in 2009, with Benat initially joining their reserve team. However, his performances in the side impressed Pepe Mel, and after giving him a run in the first-team, Benat made that place his own.
Taking on the role of playmaker, Benat always looks for the killer pass, and with options such as Ruben Castro ahead of him, he usually finds them with his intricate and precise passes. His performances have been recognised by Vicente Del Bosque, who handed Benat his Spain debut against Serbia earlier this year, highlighting his incredible rise. Unfortunately for Betis, they may not be able to hang onto Benat for much longer, with a salary cap in operation and a significant increase required, he could move on, with Bilbao keen to bring him back to Basque country and Real Madrid lurking in the distance.
Be sure to follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeKrishnan
You must be logged in to post a comment! Sign up + or log in in the top right corner.
Good ones, any suggestions for players from the French League, Bundesliga and maybe also in Belgium. Anyone covering Scandic players?