TT’s Top 5: Players excelling in different positions this season

Date published: Tuesday 27th September 2016 12:01

Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera: Positional switches

Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera: Positional switches

The 2016/17 Premier League season may still only be young, but it has already seen numerous players upping sticks and switching to unfamiliar positions.

Here, TEAMtalk takes a look at the top five players so far this campaign who have settled nicely into their new habitats.

Aleks Kolarov

Aleksandar Kolarov: Defender excelling this term

Aleksandr Kolarov has been completely transformed by Pep Guardiola in his short tenure at Manchester City.

The Serbian looked set to depart the Etihad in the summer, but the incoming boss has made Kolarov into one of the best central defenders in a group that includes John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany.

His game has improved to the extent that Pep is convinced that the 30-year-old will have a number of suitors from Europe’s biggest clubs when he considers his next move.

“We’re in September so we have time” Guardiola stated when asked about renewing Kolarov’s current deal, which expires in 2018.

“What I want is that Kola is happy here when he plays at that level. Of course we are going to be interested to speak to him, as are all the clubs in the world.”

Kolarov, of course, still gets plenty of game time at left-back, but it’s his displays in the centre of defence that have really seen the Serbian stand out.

 

Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera: Likely to play in a deeper role this season

 

It’s early days, but Manchester United fans will be hoping they’re finally set to see the best of Ander Herrera this season.

The Spaniard has switched to a holding role under Jose Mourinho in which he is expected to do more defensive work, taking the pressure off Herrera to create for the team.

There are concerns about the former Bilbao man taking up this position long term, but it’s about time he was valued after being in and out of the side under Louis van Gaal.

“I had to do a different role in the team [against Bournemouth] and I think I can be important there for the manager,” he told Man Utd’s official site.

“I have spoken with the manager and we are agreed with that, that I can be an important player for the team and that I can help the team in that position.”

With Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney battling for the No 10 role, with Henrik Mkhitaryan another option, Herrera knows his first-team prospects will be better served in a deeper role – and if his performance against Leicester is anything to go by, the position may be his for some time.

 

James Milner

James Milner: Central to Liverpool's improved form of late

James Milner has always had a reputation as being one of the most versatile players in the Premier League. The man would play literally anywhere to help his team.

Under Jurgen Klopp this season, the former Manchester City man has thrived in the left-back role, which he has been chosen in due to the poor form of Alberto Moreno.

His recent performances have drawn comparisons to Roberto Carlos, and Milner bagged twice from the penalty spot in Liverpool’s 5-1 win over Hull.

Milner told reporters in March it was “not a position I want to play”.

However, his agent has since stated: “James wants to contribute to the team and will sacrifice himself in order to give the team the best opportunity to win.”

 

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez: Thinks he's among the world's best

Arsenal’s Chilean sensation may not have started in his new position as striker perfectly, but he has certainly found his feet in the role.

Alexis Sanchez has bagged four goals in five games from his position at the heart of the Gunners’ front line, adding one in the Champions League too.

It might actually be the case that Arsenal are moving on from Olivier Giroud as their starting striker, and never even needed Alexandre Lacazette or Mauro Icardi.

Martin Keown raved about Sanchez on Match of the Day, making comparisons to Gunners’ icon Thierry Henry.

“[Thierry] Henry was the last one I saw with this sort of pace and the sort of quality he has. It creates panic in the defence and you just cannot take risks with him.

“Can he link with players as Olivier Giroud does? Yes, of course he can.”

Nathan Redmond

Nathan Redmond: Scored on Saints debut

Signed in a £10million deal from Norwich in June, Redmond was expected to be a like for like replacement for Sadio Mane on the right side of the Southampton attack.

However, Saints manager Claude Puel saw something more for the England Under-21 star, pushing him into a central attacking role in the opening day draw with Watford.

Explaining the move, Puel drew comparisons between the player and a Premier League legend:  “Redmond is a good player. I can see a player lots of qualities and for me it’s a pity to leave him on the right.

“I can see in the future he can play in as a striker.

“Redmond and Thierry Henry are two different players but I see similarities between them. They have the ability to shoot with their right foot and to curl the ball.”

Redmond scored in that opening day clash with the Hornets, and although he hasn’t netted since, he’s clearly enjoying his new central role, scoring an average rating of 7.13 so far this season on whoscored.com and becoming one of the first names on the Saints teamsheet.

 

Oli Fisher

 

Anyone you feel we’ve missed? Or do you feel these players ought to revert to their original positions? Use the story comments box, below…

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