You don’t play in midfield for some of Europe’s biggest clubs - including the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain - unless you possess tactical intelligence.
Thiago Motta, capped 30 times by the Italian national team, was both technically talented and smart, making him a coach’s dream.
The Brazil-born midfielder played under some top coaches, too, including Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti and Louis van Gaal, learning lots about the game in the process.
Motta, who turned 36 in August, brought the curtain down on his 17-year professional career at the top after receiving an offer to become PSG’s Under-19 coach in the summer.
"As far as I am concerned, this adventure with PSG is only just beginning," Motta was quoted as saying by ESPN. "I have enjoyed myself here and this was a special moment for me. My emotions are mixed, right now. I arrived at PSG a long time ago and I have experienced some great moments, which will obviously stay with me.”
Fast-forward several months and Motta has told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport - per Spanish publication AS - that he wants to revolutionise football with a formation which, in all honesty, looks completely bizarre.
He plans to introduce a ‘super offensive’ 2-7-2 formation involving the goalkeeper playing the role of a midfielder. Pep Guardiola would surely approve.
"My idea it to play offensively. A short team that controls the game, high pressure and a lot of movement with and without the ball," he explains.
"I want the player that has the ball to always have three or four solutions and two teammates close by to help. The difficulty in football is, often to do things simply but to control the base, pass and get free. I don't like the numbers of the field because they trick you.
“You can be super offensive with a 5-3-2 and defensive in a 4-3-3. Depending on the quality of the guys. I had a game a while ago where the two full-backs ended up playing as the 9 and 10. But that doesn't mean I don't like people like Samuel and Chiellini, born defenders."
There's certainly logic behind Motta's thinking.
Asked if he was talking about a 2-7-2 formation, which would mean playing with 12 if you count the keeper as a midfielder, Motta responded: "No, the goalkeeper counts as one of the midfield seven.
“For me, the attacker is the first defender and the goalkeeper is the first attacker. The goalkeeper starts the play, with his feet and the attackers are the first to put pressure to recover the ball.”
So, here’s what the formation would look like on paper…
Full marks for thinking outside the box, Thiago.
Although it looks a little odd now, give it a few years and it could become the norm.
Give it a go on FIFA 19 or Football Manager and let us know how you get on.