Ranking La Liga's 10 Most Effective Wide Players This Season

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

Ranking La Liga's 10 Most Effective Wide Players This Season

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    Recent years have seen a lack of genuine wide players compared to seasons past, partly down to the insistence of many clubs to play 4-2-3-1 and in turn play three creative players more comfortable centrally.

    Due to these tactics the line is now blurred between when a winger becomes a forward and vice versa, so feel free to champion any player who may have been lost in a positional 'black hole'.

    This list attempts to order wide men in respect of their attacking effectiveness this season, you may feel some are more 'forwards', but all of these players have mainly play wide of either an attacking trivote or a midfield four.

    Let's kick things off with No.10...

    UPDATE: This list now includes 11 due to the lack of a man that now appears at No.2.

11. Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)

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    Angel Di Maria, 24, is not as high up this list as his ability dictates he should be.

    Although enjoying something of a renaissance of late, the Argentinean has not quite hit the form of his early days at Real Madrid.

    That said, in all competitions this season he has still contributed to 11 goals—scoring five and assisting six.

10. Pedro Leon (Getafe)

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    Former Real Madrid man Pedro Leon has been Getafe's best player of the season so far, operating as a right-sided attacking midfielder.

    The 26-year-old, in just 13 starts, has already set up four goals and scored two as the Madrid-based club sit comfortably in mid-table.

    Good from set-plays, he carries a constant threat, and if Alvaro Vazquez had shown a bit more form this season he would have had more assists to his name.

9. Piti (Rayo Vallecano)

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    Heading into February, Rayo Vallecano sit in the lofty heights of sixth in La Liga and it is largely down to the goals of Piti—Leo Baptistao's been pretty good too.

    Now 31, he has been a late developer on the big stage but is enjoying a wonderful season, although his stats are more reminiscent of a forward than a left-sided attacking midfielder.

    He has contributed 10 goals already—more than Michu at this stage last year—but is yet to create any for his teammates. 

8. Pizzi (Deportivo La Coruna)

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    Deportivo la Coruna find themselves in a real struggle at the bottom and will be reliant on the brilliance of Pizzi if they want to survive.

    Only 23, the Portuguese left-winger will link up with Atletico Madrid in the summer following his impressive early season form.

    Often preferring to cut inside, he has scored six goals in his 19 league appearances as well as creating four up until this point in the season. 

7. Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid)

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    Sometimes underrated, Arda Turan is one of the most consistent performers in an Atletico Madrid side enjoying a wonderful season.

    Used by Diego Simeone left, right and centrally, he is at his best when playing on the left of an attacking trivote.

    Four goals and three assists for the Turkish international are humble figures for a player so key to his club's success.

6. Joaquin (Malaga)

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    Following several years falling from grace, Joaquin, now 31, has enjoyed a season so good that some Spanish press have mentioned him returning to the national team.

    As Malaga sit fourth in La Liga and look forward to a knockout tie against Porto in the Champions League, the right winger has been an ever-present.

    In all competitions he has scored seven goals—some penalties—and has five assists to his name too. 

5. Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona)

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    Four goals since the turn of the year have seen Pedro propel his way up this list to a position more familiar with where his talent should place him.

    At times he has struggled to maintain the form he demonstrated in Pep Guardiola's early years as Barcelona coach.

    Tito Vilanova has shown faith in the 25-year-old, though, and Pedro has returned the favor with six goals and six assists across all competitions. 

4. Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao)

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    Athletic Bilbao may not be the same eye-catching team that had Europe talking last season, but it is not for a lack of trying from Markel Susaeta.

    The wide man, operating from the right, has been—together with Aritz Aduriz—Athletic's best performer.

    Brilliant in the recent win over Atletico Madrid, the 25-year-old has created five goals in La Liga this season as well as scoring three. 

3. Patrick Ebert (Real Valladolid)

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    Patrick Ebert—possibly with a point to prove after problems at Hertha Berlin—has been one of the signings of the season in La Liga.

    The German, 25, has dazzled at Real Valladolid with his performances on the right and was hugely missed when he was injured for a period before Christmas.

    In 15 appearances in La Liga he has contributed to 10 goals, five scored and five assisted, helping the newly promoted side into the top 10.

2. Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

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    Andres Iniesta has played just over half of his matches on the left of a front three including Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez.

    As expected, when shifted out there he does not disappoint.

    His performance at Levante was particularly spectacular, setting up three goals and scoring one.

    In 12 La Liga starts—plus three substitute appearances —the 28-year-old has already assisted 12 goals, it looks like left of the front three will remain Tito Vilanova's preferred position for him.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

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    Stats speak for themselves when it comes to Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Almost always deployed as a left-sided attacking midfielder/forward this season, the results have been as devastating as ever.

    The Portuguese international, 27, has scored 31 goals across all competitions for Real Madrid and set up a further five in just 28 appearances.

Just Missing Out...

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    Sevilla's Jesus Navas, much like Sevilla, is not enjoying his best season ever, although after a bright start to the season he may have a case to sneak into the top 10.

    Real Sociedad often play a three-man attacking trivote consisting of of Carlos Vela, Antoine Griezmann, Chory Castro or Xabi Prieto, all of whom are allwonderful at times but their best work is often done centrally.

    Espanyol's Mubarak Wakaso and Real Zaragoza's Francisco Montanes were also considered, while if it were based on talent alone then Valencia's left winger Sofiane Feghouli and Athletic's Iker Muniain would have featured highly.