Dani Parejo is ranked 47th in 90min’s European Player of the Year series.
Like a fine wine, Dani Parejo looks to be getting better with age. The 30-year-old has been pulling the strings in the heart of Valencia’s midfield in 2019, earning himself a recall to the Spanish national team as a result.
Capable of grabbing a goal or an assist from anywhere on the field, Parejo has proven to be a dangerous weapon for Valencia, and he has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon.
With seven goals and four assists to his name already this season, the Spaniard is on track to shatter his own personal records as he looks to keep Valencia in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
2019 has been an excellent year for Parejo, so let’s take a look at 6 of his best moments from the last 12 months.
Stunning Free Kick vs Alavés (05/01/2019)
A set-piece specialist, Parejo is no stranger to netting the odd screamer from distance, and he did exactly that in a 2-1 loss to Alavés early in the year.
From all of 25 yards, Parejo stepped up and curled a sumptuous effort right into the top corner of Fernando Pacheco’s net, leaving the goalkeeper stranded as it flew right by him.
His combination of power and precision made the effort almost impossible to keep out, but that was by no means the last time he stole the headlines with a superb free kick.
Dominance vs Barcelona (07/02/19)
Parejo made his 300th La Liga appearance back in February against Barcelona, and he celebrated with perhaps the single greatest individual performance of his entire career.
Sitting at the base of Valencia’s midfield, the Spaniard hardly put a foot wrong all game, misplacing just two passes against the defending league champions as he showed his ludicrous vision and range.
He came close to opening the scoring himself, but eventually found the back of the net in the first half from the penalty spot to give Valencia a 2-0 lead. They ultimately fell victim to Lionel Messi’s greatness, but Parejo was the real star of the show.
Performances like this have seen Parejo described as perhaps the finest midfielder in Spain, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Retaining His Spot in La Liga Team of the Season (20/05/19)
La Liga has always been known as a league with plenty of elite midfielders. The likes of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta have set the tone, but Parejo followed in their footsteps by earning himself a place in the 2017/18 Team of the Season.
To prove it was no fluke, Parejo commanded a spot in the 2018/19 selection after performing at an even higher level that before. The world had concrete proof that he was not just a man in form, but rather a consistently elite talent.
When you don’t play for Atlético Madrid, Barcelona or Real Madrid, it can be hard to attract the attention you deserve in Spain, but Parejo has done that two seasons in a row – and he is on track to make it three.
He helped Valencia back into the Champions League on the final day of the season, which was a fitting reward for an utterly outstanding campaign.
Lifting the Copa del Rey (25/05/19)
Success is often judged on silverware. For all of Parejo’s talent, the first 11 years of his career did not yield a single trophy, but that all changed back in May.
Captained by Parejo, Valencia stunned the world by upsetting Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey. His passing genius helped inspire them to an early 2-0 lead, and Valencia never looked back.
Parejo may well have been withdrawn after the hour mark to give his team some fresh legs, but his work was already done. His side had built up an imposing lead, and he was able to back in the success afterwards as he lifted the trophy.
It was the least he deserved for his phenomenal performances last season, and he helped Valencia etch their name into the history books.
Phenomenal Free Kick vs Atlético (19/10/19)
Remember when I mentioned Parejo is something of a genius from free kicks? If you didn’t believe that, just go watch his goal against Atlético back in October.
With Valencia pushing for the top four, they knew they could ill afford to drop points against Diego Simeone’s side. However, it looked like they were going to as a Diego Costa penalty had given Atlético a lead with ten minutes remaining.
Nobody showed Parejo the script, as he stepped up to send a thunderous free kick crashing past Jan Oblak and into the top corner. We all know just how hard it is to score against Oblak these days, but the Slovenian has faced few tests quite like a free kick from Parejo.
The goal earned his side a share of the spoils to keep them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Passing Masterclass vs Chelsea (27/11/19)
It’s not just in La Liga that Parejo can shine. He can bring his talents to the European stage as well, and certainly did that in November’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea.
Whenever Parejo was on the ball, the Blues knew they were in trouble. The game was played at his tempo, as the Spaniard sprayed passes all across the pitch to keep his side moving forwards.
His short passes and close control were almost unstoppable, while his 40-yard through balls were just as perfect. Los Che could have had goal after goal, and that was all down to Parejo’s artistry in midfield.
His late assist earned Valencia a much-needed point, and they used that momentum to go on to finish top of their group, eliminating last year’s semi-finalists Ajax on the final matchday.
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