Role of the new No. 10 in the EPL

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In Italy, they refer to him as the trequartista. In Argentina, he’s the enganche. In England … we don’t really have a name for him. 

English football terminology has never quite come up with a definitive word for the player who occupies space between the opposition lines of defence and midfield – not quite a forward, not quite a midfielder. He’s “the man in the hole,” perhaps, but it’s not an appropriately glamorous term for the side’s star creator. Sometimes he’s even referred to as playing “the Teddy Sheringham role” — so unaccustomed we were to players who looked for space rather than basing their game around an individual battle with an opponent. 

England isn’t a specialist at producing top-quality players in this mould. Wayne Rooney might be the closest we’ve had in recent years, but even his best position is up for question. He was often fielded on the flank during Manchester United’s successful European Cup run in 2008, then his best individual season was probably in 2009-10 as an out-and-out striker. Joe Cole became a winger, while attacking midfielders like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and even Jack Wilshere were just that – attacking midfielders, number eights rather than number tens. 

In formation terms, too, English football hasn’t suited this kind of player. England was largely a 4-4-2 nation until recently, and this gave way to 4-3-3, inspired by Jose Mourinho’s success with Chelsea. Neither formation suited a number ten. There’s never been a 4-3-1-2 craze in English football, unlike in Italy or South America, never a romantic fixation with the archetypal playmaker.

Read more and find out which four players England’s top clubs recruited this year to fill the “No. 10” role at Soccernet’s Tactics & Analysis blog.

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