The place of the most ardent battles in every football match. The midfield is not when you win or lose matches, but it’s the place in which you set up those victories, you build them up and ultimately you sustain them. You will get nowhere if your midfield is weak even if your defense and offense are strong. You need to link them through your midfield men.
Argentina had a strong midfield in this World Cup but in occasions it failed to control the game. Nevertheless, looking forward to 2010, there are a few names that give us reasons to be confident. Young players who performed superbly in Germany 2006 and will have an invaluable experience for South Africa.
Below I’ll talk about those names and I’ll also look somewhere else to try and find the gems that will make us a serious contender next time.
But first, a look at those midfielders who won’t be making it to South Africa 2010.
Juan Roman RIQUELME: He was flirting with retirement even before the World Cup. He said he was probably going to quit football if he was crowned as champion in Germany 2006. He’ll keep on playing now, but I don’t see him making it to our squad in four years time. People in Argentina are somewhat disappointed with his performances in the World Cup and that won’t help him.
Pablo AIMAR: The favourite of the majority of readers who have sent me e-mails during this World Cup, the Valencia play-maker will have a hard time to make it to 2010. He’ll be 31 years old and will have less pace and agility, crucial aspects of his game. Too bad he didn’t have a good chance to show them. That said, it will only depend on him. If he performs these coming 4 seasons and stays out of injuries. Will he?
The following players have a place guaranteed in our next World Cup squad:
Javier MASCHERANO: What else can you ask after what he did in Germany 2006 with only 22 years of age? He looked like a veteran being always in the right place at the right time. I expect him to sign a big contract in the next couple of seasons with an European powerhouse and become one of the best defensive midfielders in the World.
Maxi RODRIGUEZ: 3 goals in a World Cup coming from midfield. Had everything you can ask a complete midfielder and he is now being look after by Inter Milan. But will Atletico Madrid let him go? He’ll be 29 but he has done a great World Cup and the experience he got from it will be a key to get another call. Gracias MAXI!
TOO CLOSE TO CALL
These are a couple of players that have question marks above them. Be it for age reasons or simply for performances.
Esteban CAMBIASSO: For some reason I tend to think he will always be young! It must be because I first saw him when he was 15, playing a South American Under-17 tournament for Argentina. Then he was one of the youngest and he scored a goal in the final of the Youth World Cup in Malaysia 97. Well…for the next World Cup he will be almost 30 and will have to battle it out with a lot of talented and younger players in four years.
Luis GONZALEZ: 29 years old for a midfielder that bases his game on running up and down the left or right flank could be too many. Again, it depends on him. If he continues to impress in Portugal (FC Porto) and he keeps on playing for Argentina (Copa America, World Cup Qualifiers, etc) he might have a chance.
Very nice, right? But I know you want to read about up and coming players, those youngsters who can become the next big thing or maybe you’re looking for a replacement for RIQUELME as a playmaker.
Well…I’ve got some answers to that, and just like you, I have many questions!
First thing we need to know is who will be our next manager if GRONDONA fails to convince PEKERMAN to stay.
Because knowing who will be our next manager could help us know what type of players will he be interested in.
Here are a few names that should be considered regardless of the manager:
Pablo ZABALETA: Already settled in an important European league (Spain) and playing a great part in Espanyol’s fortunes. He won the Copa del Rey with them but the highlight of his career so far has been captaining Argentina to The Netherlands 2005 Youth World Cup alongside Lionel MESSI, Sergio ‘Kun’ AGÜERO and Oscar USTARI. He plays on the right and his game is similar to that of Maxi RODRIGUEZ.
Fernando GAGO: Boca Juniors are enjoying while they can get a hold on him. Real Madrid and other big clubs are after this elegant defensive midfielder who has already being tagged as ‘The new Fernando REDONDO’. His exquisite play will be a great asset for Argentina for years to come and I’m already dreaming of a midfield with him alongside MASCHERANO so Javier can recover balls and Fernando can distribute them. Will he move up to become a play-maker? It’s a possibility, but I don’t think he’ll do it. For the record, he is only 20 years old.
Martin DEMICHELIS: He is not a part of the next generation, but he was really close to make it to this World Cup. Maybe next time. If he continues to perform like he is doing it for Bayern Munich he can become a useful member of our team in the next few years and maybe show up as an experienced 30-year old midfielder who can also move back and play in defense.
Juan Manuel TORRES: ‘Chaco’ as he is nicknamed after the province in which he was born, plays for my team Racing Club and I know him very well. He also played for Argentina in The Netherlands 2005 Youth World Cup and he is a key member for Racing for quite a few seasons now, despite his young age. He’s been rumoured to be on his way to Europe soon, but he will stay in Racing at least for one more season. His style is similar to MASCHERANO’s. He is not near MASCHERANO’s level but he has plenty of room to improve. Has to learn how to keep his head cool as he has a tendency to see the red card very often.
Lucas BIGLIA: Another of the Youth World Cup winners last year in Holland. He is a key part of Independiente (Racing’s fieriest rivals!) and he is multifunctional. Kind of a CAMBIASSO’s style of play. The next four years will be a splendid platform for him or could be the end of his quest for a place in Argentina’s World Cup squad. Again, a move to Europe will help his chances.
Leandro DEPETRIS: He is 17 now. He became very famous when he was signed by AC Milan aged 11! He then played for the youth teams for River Plate and he is now playing for Brescia in Italy. He is far from impressing the way he did when he first appear but no doubt he has something and he can burst into the World’s attention in the next couple of years. Very skilled with the ball.
THE NEXT BIG THING?
And I’ll ask you to pay attention to the next name I’ll bring up to the table. This is a very risky bet, but I’m taking my chances here. I’m yet to see him play and he is yet to prove himself at the best level, but from what I’m hearing about him so far, I think he is worthy of a mention and could become (yes…this is what many of you wanted to hear!) our play-maker of the future!
His name is Lucas TRECARICHI.
Who is he?
First of all let me tell you he is only 15 now. But his story is similar to another prodigy of ours: Lionel MESSI. Why? Because just as the ‘Atomic Flea’, Lucas went to Spain being very young (after being incredibly released by River Plate) and started playing there. Not in Barcelona, but Leganes gave him an opportunity and now there are clubs the likes of Arsenal, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are after him! He has a contract with Leganes for the next 8 years and there is already a rescission clause that will be of 6 million euros near the end of that contract.
He is a play-maker and he’ll surely be a part of our next Under-17 National Team. It’s difficult to speak about certainties when the player is so young as Lucas, but nobody can stop us from dreaming, can they?
Andres D’ALESSANDRO impressed everyone when he first burst into the scene for River Plate and won the Youth World Cup in Argentina 2001 playing with his childhood friend Javier SAVIOLA and with Maxi RODRIGUEZ, amongst others. He was transferred to Wolfsburg in Germany and people lost track on him. A rupture in his relationship with his former manager have paved the way for him to move out of there. A short spell at Portsmouth, when they won the battle to avoid relegation last season, has taken him to Spain. He’ll start all over at Zaragoza this season and will try to recover his old form to gain back a place in our national team. He performed as a play-maker with BIELSA in the last Copa America. Will he come back?
That leaves us with the following midfielders for 2010:
Juan Manuel TORRES
Esteban CAMBIASSO, Lucho GONZALEZ or Martin DEMICHELIS (I think one of these three)
6 sure bets, 3 oldies-but-goldies who might still have a chances, 1 big bet to the future, 1 dark-horse and 1 come-back kid who wants to return to his old self. That’s the outcome of this little exercise trying to foresee our midfield of the future. I hope you’re happy with it and remember, if I forgot to mention a player you think deserves to be included in this list, just send me your comments.
Oh…and by the way…if there are problems to fill up the midfielders spots available, there is a little lad called Lionel MESSI who can move back a couple of meters and become a speedy play-maker to help them out!