The midfield anchorman is a real strategic role, requiring a complete player who at the same time boasts a specific technical and tactical skillset. He must have a good positional sense; he can't be caught going walkabout or get carried away by an eagerness to attack. He must be able to step in between the centre-backs when the opposition put the pressure on, and then maintain a position at the epicentre of the play when his side have possession. He must be a ball-winner with a certain degree of aggression about him, and be a talented distributor. In recent years in Spain, we've had two such players of pure class in Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets. High-quality holders like that are hard to find. It almost feels like they're dying out.
Madrid eyeing up future move for Weigl
Real Madrid currently have Casemiro, who's better at destruction than construction, and are bringing through Marcos Llorente, who shares the blood of Real greats Paco Gento and Ramón Rosso. Meanwhile, their sights are set on Borussia Dortmund starlet Julian Weigl, whom we saw up close recently in Madrid's Champions League group. He's still very young, but already offers more than mere potential. He has all the qualities needed for his position and has plenty of experience given his enviable youth. Those who know him believe he'll escape the clutches of Bayern Munich, who tend to end up with the German talent: he came through the ranks at city rivals 1860, and it's not a destination he views with affection.
Real face competition from Barcelona, Man City
However, Los Blancos are up against a couple of serious competitors when it comes to clinching a deal for Weigl: Barcelona and Manchester City. At Barça, Busquets is starting to show symptoms of fatigue, forced as he is to play week in, week out. At City, Pep Guardiola is short in the role: Fernandinho alone isn't enough and Ilkay Gündogan (who's also out injured) isn't such a specific operator. Madrid's advantage is that they have a good relationship with Dortmund and that their plan would be to sign Weigl not at the end of this season, but the following one, as with Casemiro and Llorente in their ranks they wouldn't be in such a rush. That gives them a march over Barça and City, who'd need him sooner.