While Real Madrid fans have been looking for Zinedine Zidane’s heir ever since he retired from football in 2006, it is perhaps ironic that the man to take up the great Frenchman’s position as the greatest attacking midfielder of his era is occupied by a member of their greatest rivals, Barcelona.
In Andres Iniesta, Barcelona and Spain have a focal point to their final third creativity, the same way that Juventus, Madrid and France had Zizou.
While it can be argued that Iniesta has better central midfield options to call upon, with Xavi and Busquets along with Xavi and Alonso providing the perfect springboard for Iniesta to unleash his magic, there is little argument about the quality of the diminutive Catalunyan.
Off the field, both men are humble and well-spoken men, down to earth yet radiate a quiet confidence in themselves. On the field, there styles are astoundingly similar. Both men are smooth on the ball, gliding past defenders with a swish of their magical feet, using tricks only when necessary, their vision and first touch matched only by Ronaldinho and Dennis Bergkamp in recent memories.
However, no player can truly be called a great without winning trophies. This is where Iniesta truly shows why is he now worthy of being called a player as good as, if not better, than the great Frenchman.
Zidane's most important contribution for the French team was perhaps the two headed goals he scored in the final of World Cup '98, 14 years later, Iniesta replicated this feat for La Roja when he volleyed home Cesc Fabregas's assist into Stekelenburg's bottom corner in extra time.
If asked for his most memorable moment as a club footballer, Zidane might talk about his exquisite volley from a Roberto Carlos cross against Bayer Leverkuson in the 2002 Champions League final that helped Madrid to their record ninth Champions League title.
While Iniesta is yet to score a goal in a Champions League final for Barcelona, he has scored a similar scorcher that was perhaps more dramatic than Zidane's volley; his injury time strike against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge playing a crucial role in Barcelona's historic treble of 2009.
While both players played in different times and with different teams, it is clear that Zidane and Iniesta can both be considered to be the greatest midfielders of their time, if not the greatest ever.
With yet another commanding performance in the FIFA Confederations Cup, it is high time that Andres Iniesta is mentioned in the same breath as Zidane.
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