When you think of Barcelona’s successes from 2008 onwards the three players who immediately come to mind are Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
There’s another player though who is rarely spoken about that should receive equal praise in relation to how Barcelona perform. His name is Sergio Busquets.
Since making his first team debut in season 2007/2008 Busquets has gone on to become a key player not only within club football but also on the international stage for Spain as well.
With 19 domestic trophies currently won for Barcelona and two for Spain you would think fans of football would be rejoicing about his abilities, but very often this is not the case as he is surrounded by names that are more identifiable and carry more glamour.
It’s only when you begin to study the mechanisms of football and train your eyes not to follow the ball that you realise his importance to the teams he’s involved with.
Due to being deployed in a defensive midfield role it’s easy to understand why he goes slightly unnoticed but Sergio Busquets is a world class performer. In addition to being an outstanding reader of the game he also possesses fantastic manipulation techniques when controlling the ball.
It’s this control and supreme confidence in his own ability that allows him to be able to receive passes from almost any angle and be capable of managing the situation no matter how pressurised he is.
His team mates have complete trust in him to twist and turn away from dangerous situations that arise during games and to make the correct tactical decisions in relation to the balance of play. His intelligence on the pitch and game management qualities are perfect examples of the traits that Barcelona wishes to equip all their academy players with.
Perhaps one of the reasons as to why many people can’t take to Busquets is because he isn’t afraid to utilise his know-how of being able to irritate and get under the skin of the opposition.
Stamping, diving, verbal battles and using his elbows to shield the ball are all tactics he employs in his attempt to demoralise and challenge the mentality of other teams‘players.
Despite not being the essence of the game, it could be suggested that every team that has ambitions of being a dominant force needs a degree of nastiness in their play.
Another reason for being overlooked might be because several other high profile players who take up a similar position on the pitch are more adept at long range passing.
It’s easy to be impressed by the distances players such as Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso can accurately deliver to their team-mates, but it’s much more difficult for the general football fan to recognise the value of what Sergio Busquets can bring to the table.
People often talk about players that can pass the ball in between the lines, and that description is usually reserved for creative talents who deliver the final pass and claim an assist, but Busquets is one of best in the world at passing in between the lines.
Maybe he doesn’t garner the same level of praise because when he does it he’s not assisting the eventual goal scorer he’s assisting the assister of that goal. Many players posses a playing style which displays obvious elegance but with Busquets it’s somewhat deceptive.
At times he does look a little awkward but he uses this personal characteristic extremely well whilst competing against opponents and his effectiveness should be given more attention.
A good example of his worth at club level in particular could be shown when Barcelona signed Alexandre Song. Although a talented player in his own right and with a wealth of experience at a substantially big club in Arsenal whenever Busquets was injured or when Barcelona were experimenting with various personnel the difference in quality of the functionality of the team was very clear to see.
What Busquets brings is control and security which is pivotal to Barcelona’s tactical plan.
With the legendary Xavi Hernandez recently departing Barcelona for Al Sadd in Qatar it will be interesting to view the next development of Sergio Busquets’ career.
Due to an ever-growing presence at the Camp Nou it wouldn’t be surprising if he goes onto become the main leader of men at the club and excel at replacing the void left by strong personalities such as Xavi and Carles Puyol. Xavi recently suggested as much
His game intelligence on the pitch is a wonder. And off it, I don’t know anyone else whom I have the same infinity with. I think he’s my natural replacement in the dressing room and on the pitch. He’s destined to be the leader of Barcelona for the next decade. Without a shadow of a doubt
With Barcelona still competing at the highest level of the game and with no let up in sight it is highly probable that he will become the example for others to follow.
An expert at his role, Sergio Busquets is a player who undoubtedly deserves his place amongst the world’s best.
Any manager who is lucky enough to have him in their squad must love being able to take a step back and have the privilege of marvelling at an incredibly gifted player who can absorb instructions and exquisitely carry them out on a football pitch.