You may know Sergio Busquets best for stopping attacks, passing the ball no further than five yards and occasionally rolling around on the floor after minimal contact, but the Spanish international has turned into the perfect replacement for Xavi in the heart of Barcelona's midfield.
Javier Mascherano has often slotted into the holding midfield role previously occupied by Busquets, allowing him the opportunity to express his creative freedom, and it's working. Barcelona are currently in the midst of a seven-game unbeaten run - good timing considering their next fixture is against Real Madrid.
When Busquets first broke into the team in 2008, there were many supporters who were left unconvinced by him. Seven years later and he has undoubtedly silenced his critics. A lot of the credit must go to Pep Guardiola - the ex-manager saw some of his own qualities in Busquets - one of the biggest compliments you can pay a defensive midfielder.
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After playing alongside Xavi and Iniesta for the best part of six years, it was inevitable that Busquets would pick up some of their creative flair. He's slowly made the progression from a holding midfielder with limited ability on the ball to the dictator in the Barcelona midfield.
His transition has primarily relied upon his ability to retain the ball; he will often end a 90 minute game with a pass completion rate well over 90%. Whereas the majority of those passes used to be back to the defenders, Busquets now directs most of his passing into dangerous areas. The goals of Luis Suarez and Neymar represent how effective his incisive passing has been.
Importance to Spain
With the retirement of Xavi, and Iniesta and Xabi Alonso entering the twilight of their careers alongside the demise of Cesc Fabregas, Busquets' importance to the Spain side is higher than ever. He has always been one of the forgettable players in the national team, but he is now arguably Spain's most important player.
He is likely to be pushed into a slightly more advanced role for the national team given the form of Xabi Alonso as the deep lying play-maker. Can he fill the role of Xavi? It is some ask, but given his recent performances for Barca, there's no reason why not.
If he can at least go some way to reproducing the effect Xavi had on the team, then Spain may well have their hands on another trophy very soon.
Can Busquets be Xavi's long-term replacement at Barcelona? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below
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