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Five Premier League Players Who Have Successfully Reinvented Themselves This Season

01/01/2015 18:06 GMT | Updated 03/03/2015 10:59 GMT

Football is a sport that is constantly changing and players always need to be ready to meet the evolving demands.

Whether it helps an ageing star stay at the top, makes an individual more effective or simply gives a forgotten man a new lease of life, the ability to adapt to new roles and positions is a crucial attribute for any footballer.

​Here's a look at five Premier League players who have successfully reinvented themselves in a new position this season.

5. Samuel Eto'o

Adapting a style of play to suit an ageing body and yet maintain quality is something many footballers struggle to deal with. The likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard have proven in recent years it can mean a change of role and Samuel Eto'o has also made a switch this season.

The 33-year-old is no longer the lightning quick sharp-shooter he once was and struggled at Chelsea trying to be something he no longer is. However, since moving to Everton things have been a little different for Eto'o. He's often played in a more withdrawn position behind the main striker, where his vast experience, vision and footballing intelligence can hurt the opposition more than his legs can.

So far this season, the Cameroonian legend has found plenty of joy creating chances for others rather than putting them away himself and it could elongate his career at a high level by several years.

4. John Terry

Another star who is successfully adapting to age is Chelsea captain John Terry. Obviously still a leader at the heart of the defence, Terry's change has been quite subtle and is more a slight alteration in the specifics of his role than a clear positional switch.

Once the archetypal example of a typically bruising English defender, Terry has swapped roles with defensive partner Gary Cahill this season. With most teams playing with just one main striker, the 34-year-old now leaves Cahill to the majority of the physical battles and acts as the spare man, reading the game and snuffing out danger when it appears.

It has given rise to a more technical aspect of his ability as well and his distribution out from the back has been near flawless at times over the last few months, more akin to a Franz Beckenbauer-esque libero than a traditional centre-back.

3. Wayne Rooney

​It has long been thought that as Wayne Rooney gets older he will naturally drop back into a central midfield role and although he has played there when necessary over the years, it is something that has been asked of him more regularly this season.

In Manchester United's last few games in particular, he has been tasked with sitting deeper where he can see more of the pitch and therefore influence the game in a greater way than he can playing as a striker. It has certainly helped the team, with an understanding now really beginning to form with Juan Mata alongside him and Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao in front of him.

His goalscoring hasn't been hurt yet either, with Rooney himself citing the golden example of Paul Scholes in his prime arriving late in the penalty area as one that he is keen to follow.

2. Stewart Downing

​From being regarded as one of England's most promising wingers during his early days at Middlesbrough, Stewart Downing was eventually seen as a £20m flop at Liverpool. When he signed for West Ham in 2013, it seemed his best days were long behind him and his debut campaign in east London did little to suggest any different.

This season, however, Downing has been transformed thanks to occupying a new position within Sam Allardyce's Hammers team. No longer a touchline hugging winger, the 30-year-old is the attacking fulcrum at the cutting edge of a midfield diamond.

Operating from a central area, he now has much more influence on games and his form has been a large reason as to why West Ham are still challenging for the top four at the halfway stage. Downing's performances even earned him a deserved recall to the England squad for the last round of internationals.

1. Ashley Young

When Louis van Gaal arrived at Manchester United over the summer, Ashley Young was expected to be one of the first names out of the door. Despite a promising start to his Old Trafford career in 2011, the winger had failed to consistently impress ever since, but has been given a new lease of life in a new position.

Van Gaal successfully experimented with Young in a wing-back role during the club's pre-season tour of the USA, although when the season began for real he was cast aside as expected. An injury to Luke Shaw, however, gave Young another chance and he has grabbed it with both hands.

The 29-year-old has played as a wing-back and at times even a more orthodox full-back and has arguably been one of United's best players over the last couple of months. He has the energy levels to get up and down the pitch and his crossing is still among the best around, while he is also learning the defensive aspects of his new role surprisingly quickly.

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