Football is, and always will be, a team game. The balance, style and the consistency of a team will always depend on the entire team, and not on a few select individuals.
However, there are certain positions which are extremely key to a team's balance and style. Every team has a formation which depends upon one player in that one position. The team's entire performance depends on that player, and the style of play is centred around him.
Many will say that strikers are the most important players in a football team. If your strike force is good and can score goals, nothing like it. Others will say that a solid defence is paramount. A tight defence which doesn't allow the opposition to have even a sniff at the goal would pave the way for a top side. But what about the middle of the park? It's an old belief, that if you dominate in the middle of the park, you dominate the entire game.
This is where I believe midfielders are so important. And more so, central defensive-imdfielders.
This position is absolutely critical. They can serve as being the link between the defence and the strike force. They can hold up play, create space for the attacking players, slide in with those crunching tackles, supply piercing through balls, as well as have a long range effort or two.
Because they have so many diverse and paramount roles, they are vital to any team. Here are some examples of players who are so very important to their respective team's style of play:
1) Yaya Toure - Manchester City
The Ivorian beast is a classic example. One of the most versatile players around, Roberto Mancini, on many occasions, pushed him into a more attacking role - such was his effectiveness.
Toure was one of the players who was key to City's title winning team in the 2011/12 Premier League season. His important goals, timely interceptions, perfectly timed runs, key passes and his mere presence was a nightmare to opposing teams.
Having gone off the boil and to the African Cup of Nations in January seriously affected City's title defence. And it took its toll.
2) Jack Wilshere/Mikel Arteta - Arsenal
When both of them play together, it's perhaps Arteta who plays in this role. But Wilshere is breathtaking. More of a central-midfielder, he was also applauded by Dani Alves, and was likened to Xavi Hernandez - the Spanish midfield maestro.
He further added that Wilshere had the ability to play in Barcelona's midfield. This complement itself says a lot about the young Englishman's qualities.
An absolute gem of a passer, his driving runs are perhaps the best in the game. His injuries, however, are huge setbacks every time they occur.
If and when he is fully fit for an entire season, the Gunners can prove to be a very dangerous team. A future Arsenal and England captain for sure, because of his leadership abilities.
3) Bastian Schweinsteiger - Bayern Munich
What better example than a treble winning vice-captain. The brilliant German was at the centre, quite literally, of Bayern's success.
In this deep lying position, he played the role of a playmaker. Ably supported by the magnificent Javi Martinez, who had a real physical presence, Schweinsteiger had a staggering season.
He set aside the disappointments of the previous season and set about with his job with real determination. It paid rich dividends. And how.
4) Sergio Busquets - Barcelona
Perhaps more known for his theatrics on the pitch, Busquets has been a real unsung hero for Barcelona. Out shined by his more illustrious team-mates, he is fantastic at what he does.
He's a link between the likes of Gerard Pique and Xavi-Iniesta combo. He's very accurate with his passes, and fits in with the 'Tiki-Taka' philosophy admirably.
5) Xabi Alonso/ Sami Khedira - Real Madrid
Khedira burst onto the scene with a brilliant 2010 World Cup with Germany. He has been great ever since.
However, at Real Madrid, it's Alonso who pulls the strings in the midfield. Accurate with his passes, long or short, Alonso was brilliant at Liverpool, and is brilliant at Madrid and for his national team.
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