The No. 10 gets all of the headlines in football with their ability to create goals and score them. However, there is another position on the football pitch that creates goals from a central area and is tasked with quarterbacking the team. The deep-lying playmaker position is one that is used by plenty of teams around the world.
Spanish great Xabi Alonso played the role at Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich to great success. In more recent seasons, Thiago Alcantara has received praise for his work as a deep-lying playmaker.
Understanding the deep-lying playmaker position
The deep-lying playmaker role is both offensive and defensive. The position is offensive in the fact that the player is tasked with creating goal chances. Rather than being up the pitch as a playmaker, they sit deep to pick passes and play teammates in on goal from deeper areas on the field.
The position is defensive as the player sits in front of the two centre-backs and typical needs to make interceptions and tackles in the defensive final third. Once obtaining the ball, the deep-lying midfielder must distribute it to teammates to start a counter-attack or attack. Tackling and winning the ball is often a secondary task for the player as passing and beginning the attack is the primary function.
The greatness of a deep-lying midfielder
Alonso was often an anchor in the midfield. The ball passed through him going from front to back or side to side. A deep-lying midfielder needs to be good at passing long or short. This enables them to unlock defences.
The position sets the tempo for a teams attack. He/she can decide on whether a swift move will be made or the team needs to keep possession. When looking at the stats for a high-quality deep-lying player, you will most likely find that they take more touches per game than other players and have a high pass completion rate.