Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva has heaped praise on Francis Coquelin in a recent exclusive interview with 888sport, claiming the Frenchman is far and away the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League.
Coquelin has been nothing short of phenomenal since breaking into the first team, and he’s filled a gap we’ve been looking to plug arguably since Gilberto Silva himself left the club.
The Brazilian obviously knows a thing or two about what makes a good defensive midfielder, and having been arguably the Premier League’s best in his day, his praise is likely to mean a huge amount to Coquelin.
“He [Coquelin] is improving game by game and from last season to this one he is much better,” Silva said.
“He is getting to know his position well and that’s important because his role is to allow those up front to play while protecting the back four. He will be very important for Arsenal in the final third of the season.
“He is a young player and what he’s done for Arsenal in the short time he’s been playing has been great. When I was at Arsenal I was older, with more experience and big guys around me.
“He is proving himself over and over and I hope he is at Arsenal for a long period because for any team to have a player who is willing to do the hard job then it makes it harder for the opposition to pass through your defence.”
The 39-year-old’s quotes don’t explain just how thrilled he is with the Arsenal star’s performances, but 888sport say: “Silva is unashamedly a fan and even suggests the 24-year-old is the league’s best in that role.”
Arsene Wenger has always been great at picking out those tricky, diminutive, creative, and attack minded players, but his defensive acquisitions haven’t always been the best. For that reason we’ve often been a little lacking in steel, and have regularly looked lightweight in midfield and defence.
Coquelin has gone a long way towards remedying that though, and we’ve looked infinitely more solid since his emergence. We’ve badly missed him during the time he’s spent on the sidelines this season, and the fact that he’s on his way back to full fitness is a huge boost to our title aspirations.
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The 24-year-old would obviously love to achieve even a fraction of what Gilberto has managed in his career, but up until recently it just didn’t seem possible. The amount he’s improved over the last 18 months is absolutely superb though, and the fact that he’s now considered among the best defensive midfielders in the world suggests he has a bright future ahead of him.