After a strong start in Serie-A campaign, Inter Milan performance suffers freefall recently. But, despite the disappointing results they have gotten, there are still some players who deliver. One of them is Fredy Guarin. His form was bad when the team were good and the vice versa happens. His performance got better when Inter chose attacking approach instead of defensive one. Then, he began to leave his defensive duty and participate more in attack. He was bought as defensive and box-to-box midfielder (or shuttler), but this season sees we often see him playing as attacking midfielder (or even trequartista).
The question is, does the shift of role favor him and Inter ? How effective is it? The results vary between highs and lows. But, it is author’s personal opinion that Guarin should not play as attacking midfielder. Why ?
Attacking Midfielder Is Not His Natural Position
First, Guarin was simply a makeshift attacking midfielder as no one else could do it. Cambiasso is too slow and doesn’t have enough guile to be attacking midfielder, Gargano’s passing is on Serie-C1 class, Sneijder was injury-plauged (and now has gone), and Ricky Alvarez follows the Dutchman footstep as hospital patient. But, several strong performances as attacking midfielder should not justify him to deploy him there in long run. Last season, he impressed everyone with his physical and combatant presence in the middle of the park. With the emergence of Benassi and arrival of Kovacic and Kuzmanovic, there is simply no reason to continue playing him as attacking midfielder. Furthermore, box-to-box midfielder is his natural position and it is very difficult to teach new role in his mature golden age.
Brute Strength Is Not For Number 10
Second, physical player can’t optimize his power if he is stationed close to opponent’s goal. History teaches us that attacking midfielder is decorated by techincal players (e.g. Iniesta, Zidane, Laudrup etc), not physical one. In the area congested by opponent bodies, vision and technique are more important than raw strength. That’s why Guarin suits best in shuttler role. The further you are from opposition goal, the more space you have to build up the momentum. The proofs are, most of Guarin commendable plays come when he outpaces and outmuscles everyone in his wake, not from his astute positioning or deft passing.
Ramires, Boateng, and Yaya Toure
Third, lets take recent history lesson from Ramires, Boateng, and Yaya Toure. Together with Guarin, 4 of them started as pure defensive midfielder and then development in modern football shifted them into box-to-box midfielder. Until this stage, all of them still did well. But, the circumstance in each player’s club saw them developing in each way.
Ramires still continues playing as shuttler in Chelsea. In this position, he deserved great merit for his contribution in delivering UCL title for The Blues. It was his sudden burst against Barcelona that secure vital goals. In first leg, he provided assist for Drogba and in second leg he scored it by himself. Chelsea sat back, soaked the pressure, and then launched quick counter attack with Mata vision, Ramires surge, and Drogba finish. Isn’t it how Stramaccioni wants to play with Cassano, Guarin, and Palacio in his arsenal ? Despite there is slight drop in his performance recently (together with most of his teammates), Ramires is still valuable first team member in shuttler role.
Kevin Prince Boateng is the case where Inter and Guarin try to avoid. He was stationed as trequartista and even earned number 10. He was instrumental when Milan won Serie-A 2 seasons ago, but then saw drastic drop in his performances. Neverthless, Allegri still insisted to deploy him as number 10 and it led to strings of bad results, much to the rage of Milanisti. Surely Stramaccioni doesn’t want his Colombian star bears the same fate as Boateng. Only after Boateng was benched for several matches, Allegri plays him again now as midfielder. With Montolivo at his side as passer and El-Sharaawy upfront, it seems Boateng form has gotten better. Now, as Guarin will be suspended for next match again Chievo, it could give time for thought for the him and his coach to decide the best for Inter.
Contrary to Boateng, Yaya Toure succeeds in more advanced role. Started as box-to-box midfielder in Barcelona, he transited into more attacking role in Manchester City and now he established himself as main attacking midfielder with Silva. Could Guarin emulate him ? No. The main reasons why Yaya Toure thrives well in attacking role are Barcelona and David Silva. He gains a lot of benefit for playing and training in Barcelona which have strong accent on passing and technique. Also, it is Silva who provides creativity edge and Toure complements it with his powerful drive. Let’s apply the case to Nerazzurri. Inter may have the creative figure, but not the staff and system to shape someone into fine attacking midfielder. Let alone converting someone who is 26 years old and has spent his entire career in defensive nature. Sidenote for Toure, although his current fine form, every City fans will agree that Toure reached his greatest height last season when he played as shuttler. So, shall we see Guarin as box-to-box midfielder again, Mr. Andrea Stramaccioni ?