Lionel Messi and the 5 Most Significant False 9s in Football History

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Lionel Messi and the 5 Most Significant False 9s in Football History
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

There is probably no position that speaks of a team being in the tactical avant garde as a false nine, a position that already has two clear interpretations. Most classically, it is a player who seems to operate where a traditional centre-forward would but then drops deep, becoming almost a playmaker, leaving space into which players can break from midfield and the flanks.

But there is a new interpretation (that has more to do with the player than his positioning), which is to deploy a midfielder as a centre-forward, still operating high as an orthodox centre-forward would, but using his skill set less as a goal threat than to retain possession, creating chances almost by attrition.

Here, we look at five of the most significant false nines in history.

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