FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2016: No.22 – Sergio Busquets
Simon Harrison takes a look at the last year for Barcelona and Spain's midfield fulcrum…
It's a compliment to Sergio Busquets that Luis Enrique is trying to lessen Barcelona's reliance on the midfielder this season.
Many teams come to the Camp Nou and try to get in the Blaugrana’s face, and deep-lying playmaker Busquets is often their first target. Regardless of the amount of pressure he comes under, though, the Spaniard has a knack for retaining possession, picturing the angles and space around him to play his way out of pressure.
It's a high-pressure job in a team that's expected to dominate the ball every time they take to the field, but Busquets remains the best man for the job. This is the role made for him, with the likes of Sergi Roberto and Javier Mascherano forced to change positions in recent years as a result.
Thirty-five appearances in another title-winning year evidences Busquets' ongoing importance to Barça. He's looked a little jaded since a disappointing Euro 2016, though, with Luis Enrique's side's tendency to stretch the pitch during build-up play having made his job significantly more difficult.
Aged 28, Busquets could still have his best years ahead of him – particularly as numerous midfielders in the same mould have played at a high level until their mid-30s. But whatever happens from here, the Sabadell-born regista will be a defining player of his generation.
Spain may be armed with several nimble, agile and diminutive playmakers who can swirl around with fluidity, but there must be a dependable base for everything to fall back upon. Busquets is that midfield anchor, the vital counter-weight, the occasionally cynical and rash presence to break things up in the middle of the park – and after well over 500 professional games, he’s a specialist in the position.
The Euros may have been rather forgettable for Spain, with a change of manager and personnel required in the aftermath. But the fact that Barcelona are still so dependent on Busquets shows what a quality player he still is, and it's likely that Julen Lopetegui will build his Roja side around the awareness, technical ability and cool head provided by the 28-year-old.
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FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2016
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