A FEW YEARS ago, David O’Leary, the-then manager of Leeds United, argued that there was no room for creative midfielders in the Premier League.
More recently, when asked whether he ever intended to sign Luka Modric, Arsene Wenger indicated he had reservations about the player.
Wenger suggested that Modric lacked the upper body strength, which is supposedly needed for a player to thrive in British football.
However, both O’Leary and Wenger have since been proven wrong.
If a player is good enough, he can make an impact in any league, even if the individual in question lacks the physicality of more robust players, such as Yaya Toure or Michael Essien.
Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that two of the three standout players of the season so far fit into the aforementioned ‘creative’ mould.
Luka Modric and David Silva, along with Wayne Rooney, have been instrumental in their sides’ successes.
Each of these three players have produced at least one dazzling performance over the course of the season so far: Silva was key to City’s shock 6-1 win over United, Rooney scored a stunning hat-trick in his side’s 8-2 defeat of Arsenal, and Modric taught Liverpool a footballing lesson, as Spurs thrashed their opponents 4-0.
Nevertheless, Silva’s City currently sit top of the league, five points ahead of their nearest challengers. Thus, the Spaniard surely deserves to be regarded as Premier League’s most influential player based on current form.
(AP Photo/Jon Super)
And while to suggest that he has been the outstanding performer in this campaign so far may just be an opinion, it is one which is supported by a number of facts.
Silva has tellingly featured in every one of Man City’s ten games thus far, and started in nine of them, which is quite an achievement, considering Mancini’s fondness for squad rotation.
He has scored three goals, a respectable tally for a winger, and only one less than he managed last season – a testament to both the improvements he has made as a player and the greater emphasis on attack that Man City have shown in recent times.
Most impressively of all, Silva has contributed seven assists – more than any other player in the league.
Admittedly though, the Spaniard still has a long way to go before he is compared to the holy footballing triumvirate of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta, and is by no means perfect (not yet, anyway).
Despite an eye-catching start last season, Silva at times struggled to adapt to the Premier League, and all too often played on the periphery of big games.
Since then however, the signing of Samir Nasri has introduced a greater fluidity to City’s forward play, helping attack-minded players of Silva’s ilk to thrive in the process.
In addition, having one season of Premier League experience behind him is undoubtedly another factor in his emergence as one of the league’s most feared attackers.
Moreover, having started in a number of Spain’s Euro 2012 fixtures, Silva is becoming an increasingly important part of the Spanish national team.
His international colleague Xavi – arguably the best midfielder the game has seen over the past ten years – is 31, and won’t be around forever.
While Silva has yet to be entrusted with the central midfield berth that Xavi currently holds, he undoubtedly has the potential to be effective in this position, and shares a strong level of footballing intelligence and an ability to pick out a killer pass with the veteran playmaker.
Silva, therefore, may just be the right man to eventually take over the Barcelona player’s mantle, if his recent Premier League performances are anything to go by.