Andres Iniesta: La Liga's greatest ever midfielder

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When Andres Iniesta was applauded off the pitch by a large section of the Real Madrid fans last weekend, it signified the respect and admiration he attracts from all sectors of football.

It wasn't the first time the Spaniard had been clapped off the pitch by home supporters either; the season after his winner in the 2014 World Cup final, he was applauded at every ground he visited.

Everyone in Spain that season had time for Andres Iniesta, but what makes him so widely appreciated?


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A large amount of Iniesta's malleability comes from his modesty and humble nature - the starry lights of fame have yet to warp the Barcelona and Spain midfielder. Alongside his good nature, many people are fans of his simply because of the way he plays. He is the football equivalent of poetry in motion. 

As good as Iniesta is, when naming the greatest La Liga midfielder, many fans' choice is Zinedine Zidane, which is fair enough. The Frenchman made jaws drop with his scintillating footwork and elegant control - but that doesn't mean to say he was superior to Iniesta.

To the casual fan who bases their opinion around YouTube videos, Zidane may seem the obvious choice: his long-range passing, spectacular goals and impressive skills are very easy on the eye, but is that what you want from a central midfield player?

Most coaches will want their central players to dominate the game - games are won and lost in the midfield battle and modern coaches are aware of that. Well, over the past 20 years, there hasn't been anyone who dominates a game like Iniesta.

Whenever he is on the pitch, the 31-year-old is a level above the rest of his opponents - his recent display against Real Madrid was one in a career of mesmerising performances. 

So despite Zidane's obvious qualities, that's why he doesn't quite match Barcelona's magician.

The only players that come close to the Spain international in terms of dominating a game played alongside him. Deco was the player Iniesta replaced when he first broke into the team, proving to be even more effective than the Portugal international. Up until then, Deco ran Barca's midfield.

Alongside Iniesta at the upper echelons of midfielders is his long time team-mate, Xavi. The Spanish pair formed arguably the greatest midfield partnership in football history whilst playing under Pep Guardiola - and as good as Lionel Messi was, they were the catalysts behind the masses of success. 

Hardcore Barca fans may disagree, but Iniesta always seemed to offer more of a threat than Xavi. His ability to carry the ball created copious amounts of dangerous moments - dribbling was a quality that Xavi never possessed.

Ultimately, we have been lucky enough to enjoy a number of world-class midfield players in La Liga, but all things considered, Iniesta reigns king above them all.

La Liga
Lionel Messi

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