Labelled at times as uncontrollable, hot-headed and a ticking time bomb at his previous clubs, Gary Medel has been anything but a nuisance since joining Cardiff City, as his dynamic play in the middle of the park has set the platform for their solid start to life in the Premier League.
Malky Mackay’s men started the season odds-on to be relegated but after taking eight points from their first seven games – including a 3-2 win over Manchester City – they have now drifted out to 5/2 to finish the campaign in the bottom three.
If the Chilean international continues to play with the same vigour then expect Cardiff’s price to lengthen further for relegation as the season progresses.
Even at this early stage, Mackay has gone as far to predict that the tenacious former Seville man could prove one of the club’s greatest ever purchases.
Where he fits in
Charged with enforcing the midfield, Medel has dovetailed excellently with his playmaking midfield partner Peter Whittingham.
His destructive play also relieves the pressure usually forced upon newly promoted team’s centre-back pairings, in this case Steven Caulker and Ben Turner, who both know they can look to the experienced Medel for help when opposition forwards crank up the intensity on the Cardiff backline.
What he offers
One thing that has surprised many City fans is Medel’s calmness and influential demeanour when Cardiff are probing the opposition with the ball.
This has given licence for his fellow midfielders to roam forward, showing confidence in Medel to not only cover them with his clever tactical play but feed them with productive passes in dangerous areas.
Whittingham, Jordon Mutch and Aron Gunnarsson have all managed to get on the scoresheet in Cardiff’s opening eight games.
In his first seven league matches the hard as nails midfield destroyer has tackled everything he’s come up against but has also been a remarkably influential in possession.
He completed 99% of his passes in Cardiff’s 2-1 win at Fulham, treating the ball with maximum care and allowing the more creative players to flourish.