Anybody who has watched West Ham United star Arthur Masuaku since manager Manuel Pellegrini arrived at the club could tell you how big of a growth there has been in the left back over the past 12 months.
However, for those who aren’t regular watchers of the Hammers, it may have been a surprise to see the 25-year-old in Premier League legend Alan Shearer’s Team of the Week on Monday.
They will have been wondering how a player once so polarising has improved so much to the point that he was the best left back in the top flight last weekend. They’d be right to be baffled, because the improvement from Masuaku has been quite incredible.
We are now watching a completely different player man the left hand side of the West Ham defence to the one who struggled at the start of last season and lost his place in the team to England international Aaron Cresswell.
This time round, there’s been no question about who the Irons’ number one left back is. Masuaku, simply put, has been on another level this campaign.
When you compare how he’s performed this season to last time, it’s like night and day. Looking at the statistics, courtesy of WhoScored.com, is hugely revealing.
Granted it’s a small sample size this time round, but you still have to be impressed. Masuaku’s average tackles per game are up from 2.5 to a staggering 4.3, with his interceptions tally up from 1.6 to 2 per outing. He’s also drawing more offsides and being dribbled past less often, something which was once a big problem for him.
Going forward, as well, he’s made huge strides. He’s already equalled his assist tally from last season, while he’s taking more shots per game and completing more key passes. He’s also embarking on almost double the number of dribbles per game, causing him to be fouled much more often.
Masuaku’s improvement was much-needed, but hugely rewarding to see. Once much-maligned, he is now one of the first names on the team-sheet for Pellegrini, and fully deserves his spot in Shearer’s Team of the Week.