4 young midfielders who have the potential to become the best in the world
Perhaps the most important position in football is that of a midfielder. Protecting the defense, controlling the tempo, creating chances, holding the ball, splitting defenses, and understanding the game - all these are skills that every midfielder hopes to perfect in his career.
In a footballing world where controlling the midfield has been a crucial path towards success, the requirement of world-class midfielders who can impact the game almost single-handedly has increased. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Sergio Busquets and Christian Eriksen have only set the bar higher.
To reach that level of quality would be the dream of every young midfielder in the world. Some are already showing signs of being the next big thing in football. In this article, we look at 4 midfielders who have shown the potential to become world-beaters.
4. Julian Weigl
The closest thing we have seen to the tactically brilliant, insanely press resistant Sergio Busquets, is this 22-year-old from Borussia Dortmund.
Weigl started his early days playing as an attacking midfielder. Right from his time at 1860 Rosenheim, his ability to keep the ball in possession with light touches and to make quick turns to get away from challenges has been a consistent part of his game.
Weigl's time as an attacking midfielder made him a good dribbler, as he was constantly exposed to the need to dribble in tight spaces. However, it was his positional intelligence and great vision that caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund, whose then-manager Thomas Tuchel’s tactics were based on those two attributes.
Tuchel saw Weigl's ability to play as a deep midfielder and helped him get accustomed to his new role almost instantly. Right from his first season at Dortmund, Weigl was a key part of the squad. His role was to drop back and be open for a pass by the center-backs and move into the midfield. There, he was supposed to connect the two sides of the midfield and move the ball in the heart of the pitch.
He would stay deep and support the attack, rather than move forward and be a part of it directly. Sounds familiar? That’s the role Sergio Busquets has played in his entire career for Barcelona.
No wonder Barcelona want to bring him to Camp Nou; he could be the perfect replacement once Busquets retires. However, Manchester City are also looking for this young man’s signature, since he would fit perfectly into Pep Guardiola’s system of positional play (basically the same as Barça’s).
Weigl's role is greater than what simple statistics show. However, even the numbers have been great for him last season. He has a pass accuracy of 86%, having completed 849 passes last season, with an average pass length of an amazing 18 meters. With six chances created, that isn't bad for a player in his role.
Tactically smart and technically strong, Weigl could blossom into one of the best central defensive midfielders in the game.