“But Fabregas would never play on the wing, so what’s your point?”
It’s a good question, and the more astute readers will probably have realised the problem it causes.
The system Barca plays requires a defensive minded midfielder to hold while two creative central players enjoy freedom to maraud forward and dictate their extended attacking passages of play.
So while Sergio Busquets is nowhere near as talented as Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, or Xavi; his place in the team is almost assured. The balance of the midfield means this role is pivotal in the chemistry of the team.
This is a point that will not escape Guardiola, as he played in the same position for Barcelona when he captained the side under Johan Cruyff.
Busquets, or an equivalent, in a three man midfield leaves only two potential places for Iniesta, Xavi, and Fabregas. Xavi will be discussed in the next slide, so let’s quickly focus on Iniesta, as he is a key component in the argument.
Iniesta is a truly wonderful midfielder; he has the balance and poise to glide past multiple markers despite being pressed and his awareness is remarkable. He is able to turn and find space from seemingly congested positions, and his movement on the edge of the box is sublime.
His quick feet are always searching for an interlinking pass that will unlock even the most impenetrable defence.
So talented is Iniesta that he is equally as devastating when deployed from the left flank as he is from a central position. This is the crux of the conundrum; before Villa was signed it could be legitimately argued that Iniesta could simply shift out to the left to accommodate Fabregas in the centre.
Villa’s signing effectively rules out this option. If Fabregas signed for Barcelona this summer, he’d be competing with Iniesta and Xavi for a spot in central midfield. He wouldn’t get into the team, no debate.