There’s no question Diego Valeri is having an impressive season.

The talented playmaker has been one of the best players in the league since his arrival a few years ago. However, he’s taken a step forward in his development. And now the former Lanus star has emerged as the Portland Timbers’ best player, even ahead of established stars such as Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe. That’s how good he’s been over the past few years.

One would think Valeri might get complacent, but that can’t be further from the truth. The talented midfielder leads by example, and he always wants more. He’s not happy with being one of the best players in the league, because he wants to be the best. That could sound as a difficult thing to achieve considering other playmakers such as Lee Nguyen, Sebastian Giovinco, and Kaka. However, he’s been up to the task so far in 2017.

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Following eight games thus far, the 31-year-old attacking midfielder already has five goals and four assists under his name. He’s been consistent as well, scoring or assisting in six of this eight presences thus far. He didn’t play in last week’s match against FC Dallas, and Portland missed him a great deal. Without him, players like Sebastian Blanco, Dairon Asprilla, Nagbe, and Adu don’t play with the same intensity they usually do. It’s clear Valeri is the engine that keeps Portland going. And he’s not only doing a good job among his teammates, because he’s also among the MLS leaders in several categories.

Valeri ranks fifth in goals, third in assists, and he has scored five times in only eight shots on target. This means he’s also been extremely effective in front of the goal, a trait he didn’t have in past years.

He might not be on the same level as players like Giovinco, Cyle Larin, or Juan Agudelo. But Valeri has been consistent, decisive, and extremely accurate. If anyone deserves the MLS MVP Award, it’s him. And it’s not even close at the moment.