It’s very easy to forget just how good Sergio Busquets is.
Internationally, he’s part of the Spain team that boasts the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva. Similarly at club level, Busquets lines up again, alongside both Xavi and Iniesta, with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol behind him, with the world’s greatest player in attack.
With that array of talent it’s very easy for people to overlook the Spaniard. That’s not to say that the holding midfielder is forgotten. After initially questioning what he brought to the Barcelona side there has been a widespread acceptance that he is an integral part of the best club side of a generation. But I believe he is still undervalued.
Take last night for instance. Lionel Messi will receive the plaudits – and rightly so – for dismantling an AC Milan side that looked caught in the headlights. But Busquets was the best player on the pitch by a distance.
One of the telling stats of the game was that Busquets was not dispossessed once in the 90 minutes. While Messi and Iniesta had the ball taken off of them on five occasions, if Barcelona required a man to steady the ship and push them forward again, the young Spaniard was the man to do so. Moreover, other than Xavi, Busquets passed the ball more times than anyone on the pitch, and did so with an accuracy of 92%.
Since the beginning of the century there has been a greater appreciation of the importance of the defensive midfielder. It is customary to play two holding players in today’s game, with the emphasis on winning the ball and being able to break quickly.
The man very much celebrated as the upholder of the position in recent history has been Claude Makelele, the man Zinedine Zidane referred to as the "entire engine" of the Galacticos upon his sale to Chelsea. Similarly, Steve Mcmanaman labelled Makelele as "the most important yet least appreciated midfielder at Real".
These comments could so easily be directed the way of Busquets (with the obvious difference being which side of the Clasico they played on). Often overlooked in favour of his more attack-minded teammates, it’s easy to forget that the Barcelona man is just 24-years-old. Despite his relative inexperience in terms of age, Busquets has won three La Liga titles (and looks set to add another), three Supercopa’s, two Copa del Rey’s, two Champions League titles, two European Super Cups, two World Club Cups, the European Championship and the World Cup. At 24.
Busquets hasn’t even entered the prime of his career yet and he has a trophy cabinet filled more so than many players ever achieve. The obvious counter to the array of silverware he possesses would be that he is a part of arguably the greatest club and international sides in history, but that only serves to underline the quality he possesses.
He isn’t a peripheral member of these teams, he is the man entrusted with treading the line between defence and attack. Protecting the defences behind him and providing for the players in front of him.
Busquets still has a long time ahead of him in his career, but in my opinion he may already be the best holding midfielder the world has ever seen. A man who does his job to absolute perfection and possibly deserves a great deal more credit than he currently gets.
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