David Beckham: Tactical Evolution of Man Utd, Real Madrid and L.A. Galaxy Star
David Beckham took the route not many have in the past—he went from explosive winger to withdrawn deep-lying playmaker.
Other notable occurrences of this are Ryan Giggs (to an extent) and Bastian Schweinsteiger, but the list remains incredibly short, as it's an odd transition to make.
Let's break down his evolution as a player.
As a pup
Beckham entered the English football scene amid a class of high-hopers.
Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Keith Gillespie, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt are just some of the top-tier names he graduated with from Manchester United's academy, making his debut a little later than some at 20 years of age.
He excelled in a traditional winger's role—fully in vogue during the mid-to-late '90s—and made a name for himself rather quickly thanks to his tendency to put ferocious bend on the ball.
His ability to beat his man and whip in an excellent cross made him a natural fit on the right wing for Sir Alex Ferguson, but it was change of pace and flat deliveries that allowed him to become an elite option for club and country.
He won his only UEFA Champions League title with the Red Devils as a pure right winger, although it should be noted that he filled in at central midfield against Bayern Munich due to Paul Scholes and Roy Keane missing the final.
£25 million was the figure Real Madrid parted with to steal Becks from under Barcelona's noses.
While his time with Los Merengues was far from settled, he made his first move toward a central midfield role in late 2004 under Carlos Queiroz.
The Portuguese boss utilised a 3-5-2 to unlock the rampant potential in Roberto Carlos and Michel Salgado, meaning Beckham was partnered by Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo in a central midfield trio—not bad company, eh?
He flitted between roles freely as Los Blancos cycled through six different managers during his stay at the club, and it was only upon his free transfer to L.A. Galaxy that he acquired some semblance of stability.
Fitting, it was, to see David Beckham take up a deep role in front of his back four and dictate proceedings from within a 10- to 15-yard radius in the United States of America.
He, like Schweinsteiger had, became a hugely influential figure despite a lack of mobility and vertical running. He became the Galaxy's quarterback in a sport when that position didn't exist.
His legs were worn, but his ability to spot the pass never disappeared. His pinpoint crosses became pinpoint through-balls, and his agility transformed into spacial awareness.
At this point in time, his future remains unclear, but his playing style is still relevant to modern football and could slot into a number of top-tier sides.
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