Six players enjoying a resurgence in Europe this season: Silva, Mario & more

Quick Reads

Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla men are among the players enjoying a resurgence in Europe’s major leagues this season.

It doesn’t take much for footballers to be written off by some fans these days, but it has been proven on many an occasion that it is possible for players to rediscover their best form.

We’ve taken a look at six players who are showing signs of being back to their best in 2018-19.

Joao Mario

“I do not want to try again,” Mario said of his Inter future in the summer after returning from a loan spell at West Ham. “I would not have the right motivation. That experience is over now. Zero doubts.”

Inter were happy to grant the wishes of a midfielder they had spent €40million on in 2016 – the second most expensive signing in their history.

A sale proved complicated, however. Roma and Real Betis switched their attentions to different targets, while Mario rejected offers from Turkey.

Come the end of the transfer window, the Portugal international remained at the San Siro, where fans would jeer his name when it was read out among the substitutes.

The 25-year-old failed to play a single minute of first-team football until he was surprisingly named in the starting XI for a trip to Lazio.

Inter won 3-0, Mario impressed and he was later involved in four of the five goals as the Nerazzurri thrashed Genoa 5-0.

Sebastien Haller

Newcastle were heavily linked with a move for Haller in the summer of 2017 after the striker had scored 44 goals across two seasons for Utrecht.

The former France Under-21 international instead moved to Eintracht Frankfurt but failed to set Bundesliga alight with nine goals in 31 appearances.

But the 24-year-old is showing signs of his Eredivisie form this season as one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe with eight goals in 822 minutes.

Newcastle are again being credited with interest in Haller, but they now reportedly face competition from Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham.

READ: Seven surprise packages in Europe this season: Frankfurt, Lille, Alaves

Paco Alcácer

After establishing himself as one of the best strikers in Spain at Valencia, it was hard to begrudge Alcácer a move to Barcelona in 2016.

But, as Arturo Vidal is discovering this term, earning a transfer to the Catalan giants is one thing, breaking into their starting XI is another.

In his two campaigns at the Nou Camp, the Spain international made just nine starts in La Liga, scoring eight and seven goals in all competitions respectively.

A loan move to Borussia Dortmund, which is likely to be made permanent, offered the 25-year-old a fresh start.

‘Start’ may be the wrong word. Alcácer has started just twice in the Bundesliga this season but has already bagged eight goals in 236 minutes, breaking a 55-year-old record to become the fastest player to reach that figure in the competition.

Just imagine when he starts playing more regularly.

Andre Silva

Another striker whose big move failed to pay dividends, much was expected of Silva last season after AC Milan paid Porto €38million for the Porto international.

Only seven of Silva’s 24 Serie A appearances came from the start, and he scored just two league goals, despite impressing in the Europa League.

After being linked with a move to Wolves in the summer, the 23-year-old instead joined Sevilla on a season-long loan with an option to be made permanent and has taken to La Liga like a duck to water.

Silva has already notched seven goals in 11 league outings this term, hitting a hat-trick against Rayo Vallecano and also putting Real Madrid to the sword with a brace in Sevilla’s impressive 3-0 victory over Los Blancos.

Iker Muniain

Muniain was once the great hope of Spanish football, having become the youngest player to ever appear for Athletic Bilbao when he made his first-team debut back in 2009.

While there have been highs in the intervening years, the forward has failed to live up to expectations, although two serious knee injuries have derailed his progress.

After suffering the second in September 2017, the 25-year-old eventually returned to action towards the campaign’s conclusion, ending the season with five goals in 20 appearances in all competitions.

But this season a revitalised Muniain has already scored four goals in 11 appearances. If he continues that form, he is likely to attract plenty of interest in January with only six months remaining of his current deal.

READ: Iker Muniain: The long journey of a man labelled the Spanish Messi

Diego Lopez

You remember him, don’t you – that Real Madrid goalkeeper. You know the one. Mourinho loved him, especially ahead of that b*stard Iker Casillas.

Well, he’s still going. Thirty-seven now. No, we didn’t know he was at Espanyol either.

Anyway, he didn’t have a good time of it last year. Ten La Liga appearances, quite a few injuries, even behind that strange Tottenham loanee Pau Lopez at one point.

But he’s back now. Espanyol are pretty good, and Lopez – Diego, that is, not Pau – has kept five clean sheets in 12 games.

There are four players in Espanyol’s squad called Lopez, which is a bit disconcerting.


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