He is just that kind of player. The one that in one moment walks on water and creates gold out of dust, only to in the next run into the same glass window for the nth time. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh. I guess that is also why the captain is so much debated among the fans. What is it about Dani Parejo that makes it so? Here is my theory.
Dani Parejo made his way as a footballer through the very strong Real Madrid cantera. Even though Castilla is a reserve team, the competition for places is very hard, so also for Parejo who only managed 4 games in 06/07 before being loaned off to the English side Queens Park Rangers the following season. After 18 matches in the Championship, he was recalled due to the injuries of Diarra and De la Red, but failed to convince the management of his quality. That resulted in a new transfer, this time to Getafe, where Parejo started proving his potential. After two seasons at the club it was confirmed that despite the good displays, Real Madrid would not exercise their buy-back clause, opening a race between Atletico Madrid and Valencia to sign the player.
At Valencia it started slowly for the Coslada born midfielder, and it was not before Ernesto Valverde took the helm at Mestalla that he really started proving his worth. Instrumental in the team’s improved form, he started establishing himself as an important player. His best version yet was under Pizzi who made him the distribution central for the team and he was able to use his effective passing to pull the strings offensively.
This is where we start closing in on the real topic. Dani is the attacking midfielder with the ability to find room, receive the ball and quickly distribute it to his team mates. On his best days, and one of the reasons he is the club’s top goal scorer this season, he also starts a run into the box. In Nuno’s set up, Dani is getting a lot of chances. These are his base strengths. Some games he also has an extra spark, Dani. Those are the games were he is even more aware than usual, able to orientate himself and move cleverly to create space for himself with the ball – and also often finding that killer pass to a team mate in the box. In those games he also seems to be one or two steps ahead of the opponent at all times.
Another one of his strengths are the set pieces, often driven with a spin. His free kicks have been superb at times. They’re not always beautiful, but very very effective. Defensively, Dani is strong when the team is balanced. He works hard, and goes in to quite a few tackles for being an attacking midfielder. He covers a lot of ground every match and is often a part of counter attacks. Dani is a player I like.
(Thanks to @Rule14 for the video)
Then there’s Parejo. A midfielder who too often seem to give up for 2-3 seconds after loosing the ball, before realizing he needs to do his defensive duties, often causing the opponent to get an advantage on the counter. The team’s midfield is often left overrun with only Javi Fuego left to protect the defense. Parejo is also a player that likes to take risk, as Dani. But where Dani looks for the spectacular but risky pass into the box, Parejo is looking for the same pass on his own half. Very often the pass is also a bit lazy, causing minor inaccuracies leading to team mates having to back track, or even interceptions by the opponent.
Parejo seems unaware of the circumstances at times, and unable to take a less risky approach. Examples are abundant this season, where he several times have gifted goal opportunities and goals to the opponent. Espanyol and Córdoba are the two latest. Parejo is like one of those young virtuosos who find it all so easy that they almost find it boring. And as for any virtuoso with a lazy moment, his game is suffering from it. Parejo has the aggressiveness of a sloth. I don’t care for Parejo very much.
The truth is, there is really two faces of Dani Parejo, and unlike most “almost world class” players, he is not average at anything. He is extremely good at some and very poor at other. This has lead to the typical Valencia fan divisional stance, where one side is so dazzled by his virtues that they are blind to his vices, and the other so frustrated by his faults that they are unable to see his genius.
“There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.”