David Silva, Luka Modric and Juan Mata each weigh less than ten and a half stone and are each 5 foot 6 or below in height. However, far more important than their slight build, they are all currently shining in the Premier League.
A culture in English football has long been present that physical qualities are more important than technical ones. Silva, Mata and Modric are helping change that perception, something that is not only good for English football but at the same time is sensational to watch.
All three are quintessential examples of the type of footballer that Spain, in the case of Mata and Silva, and Croatia, in the case of Modric, seem to continually produce. They are technically exceptional, are relentless in their attempt to be creative and are tremendously good team players.
Before Manchester City’s crushing 6-1 victory over Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson singled out David Silva as the biggest threat to his side, no mean praise considering the embarrassment of riches available to City boss Roberto Mancini. Silva was instrumental in the victory, both offensively and defensively with his pass for Edin Dzeko’s second nothing short of immaculate.
Silva’s highlight reel is a joy to watch, with moments such as his drag back and flick against Tottenham and his spectacular jinking run and finish against Blackpool last season. Arguably the Premier League’s best player right now, Silva’s form will be crucial to establishing whether or not City can end their 43 year wait for the league title.
The summer’s longest running transfer saga was that of Luka Modric and a potential £40 million move to Chelsea, in the end the Croatian remained at Spurs and remains a crucial cog in a Spurs side that has impressed in recent weeks, unbeaten in six. If you had never seen him play, it might be expected that Modric would struggle with the physical demands of playing in central midfield.
Not so, such are his technical and tactical qualities, Modric has consistently ran the midfield for Tottenham in recent years, with moments such as his thunderbolt against Liverpool never far away. Harry Redknapp has crafted one of the best Spurs sides in many years, and if Tottenham keep hold of Modric there is no reason that they cannot return to the top 4 and challenge for trophies this season.
Of the three, Juan Mata joined the Premier League most recently, moving to Chelsea in the summer. The Spaniard has hit the ground running, impressing many in recent displays and he has already been credited for helping change Chelsea’s approach under Andre Villas-Boas. Indeed, AVB is clearly a big fan and has already claimed that Mata is as good as David Silva.
With comparisons to another player of diminutive stature, club legend Gianfranco Zola, already in the offing Chelsea clearly have high hopes for Mata. He may have a long way to go to justify those comparisons but Mata is clearly a player with a bright future in English football.
If the three can continue at their current high level, it must be hoped that their style will influence many youngsters to appreciate technical and tactical qualities as much as physical ones, with any luck the long term benefits being seen in young English players.