Where is England’s Trequarista?

TREQUARISTA: A creative forward player who seldom plays in a team formation which permits him the creative license to play as a number 10 – in effect a free role, linking attacks and creating for team-mates.

Mesut Ozil – Germany’s Playmaker

Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze, Germany.

Yoann Gourcuff of France.

Lionel Messi, Argentina.

Wesley Sneijder the Holland talisman.

Christian Eriksen, Denmark‘s whizzkid.

All players partaking in international fixtures last night for their countries.

All playing in the trequarista position – The free role.

And it begs the question, doesn’t England have a player capable of drifting in between midfield and attack – Someone capable of picking up the ball, linking the play, committing defenders and playing killer passes for on-rushing team-mates?

Someone who can take on the responsibility of leading the Three Lions in a creative sense – Eriksen, the Ajax prodigy, has started doing it for the Danes as an 18-year-old and on last night’s showing is thriving – and who can be a difference-maker in the tightest of matches?

Where is England’s Trequarista?

It’s not a formation thing, as it’s undoubtedly in vogue with the so-called bigger footballing nations to play the 4-2-3-1 formation in international football at the moment  and England are no different- I would argue that only Portugal and Spain are different (playing largely 4-3-3) – but why don’t England have someone floating in between the lines, in the centre of the attacking three?

It may well be pointed out that Wayne Rooney was in that role against Denmark last night, but he is not used to the role. Rooney is a centre-forward who is taken out of his comfort zone and away from his best position when playing there.

And when things aren’t going in his sides favour (as seen in the World Cup when his performances left much to the imagination), he seems to go missing from the creative role, especially in an England shirt. The likes of Ozil and Messi however, always want the ball, regardless of the scenario they find themselves in.

So why don’t England have someone in that position, who can make it their own? Are players not being developed to play in that role? Do we not have trust of English players technical abilities to play in that particular position in this country?

Interestingly, look at the progression of two players, both very different, both in styles and their amelioration and perhaps one could fulfill the role – The two players being the precocious Arsenal talent Jack Wilshere, and Aston Villa’s fleet-of-foot, box-of-tricks Ashley Young.

When Wilshere was making terrific progress in the Arsenal youth team and reserve side, he was being utilised in the free role, playing as a number 10, with wide men on either side and a forward in front, to play one-twos with.

Jack Wilshere

He was free to wander and be as creative as he wished, pulling whatever strings he deemed necessary.

Nonetheless, since his progression into the Arsenal first team, Wilshere, whose on-field maturity will certainly have pleased Arsene Wenger this season, has played in very much a central-midfield role alongside Alex Song, both sitting behind the captain Cesc Fabregas.

Last night for his country, the young footballer with the cultured left-foot, who is being tipped to be a Three Lions mainstay for the next 15 years, was playing a holding role in front of the back-four, looking to dictate play from a deep position – more Andrea Pirlo, than Francesco Totti.

Wilshere’s movement into deeper-lying positions, from being the most likely English player with the undoubted technique to maybe make that position his own, would show an argument that perhaps English players aren’t trusted/suited to the trequarista role, in comparison with their continental peers.

However, the advancement in Ashley Young’s game, most notably since Gerard Houllier took charge at Aston Villa and overhauled the sides style of play and formation to 4-2-3-1, would certainly beg to differ.

Ashley Young – Playing central at Villa

Since the Frenchman’s arrival at Villa Park, Young has moved from his former role on the wing, into the central trequarista role, ahead of the Villa midfield, and in behind new striker Darren Bent.

And whilst he and his team-mates have found the going tough this season,  just four goals and five assists in 22 games for his club so far this season, Houllier has certainly seen something in the former Watford man to convince him that Young will thrive in this role.

Young is a player of considerable talent – the only player to ever win three Premier League Player of the Month awards in one year (2008) – and now, at the age of 25, he has shown that maybe he is mature enough and ready to take a central role.

He certainly impressed in the role last night for England, when he arrived as a half-time substitute, replacing Rooney.

Playing in behind his club-mate Bent, Young’s considerable pace, movement and quickness of thought were prominent, as he drifted into space and caused problems for the Danish backline with a mixture of tricky running and incisive passing.

And the Villa man showed now shortage of technique with a smartly-taken goal, which gave England their 2-1 victory.

The question now for Young, who with 17 months left on his contract at Villa Park is being linked with the likes of Manchester United, is can he force himself into Fabio Capello’s first XI and make the position his own?

And would Capello be willing to sacrifice one of his trusted Gerrard-Lampard-Rooney axis, or to accommodate Young alongside them, therefore, giving Young the creative license for his country that the trequarista’s named above have for their respective sides?

By what the England manager said post-match, it is certainly conceivable.

“This position is really good for Ashley Young because he’s free,” said Capello on Young’s performance in the trequarista role against Denmark.

“He causes problems when he plays in the middle of the pitch.”

Maybe now is the time for the former Real Madrid and AC Milan boss to give Young his head, and hand him a position of responsibility, in the England side.

Maybe in Young, England has found itself a Trequarista.

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About AA_Richards

Football writer & all-round pen for hire. Can tiki-taka or counter-attack at pace. Differentiates Athletic from Atletico. Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/AA_Richards
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