Monday, July 10, 2006

A look into the future (part 2) - Midfielders (July 10th)

The place of the most ardent battles in every football match. The midfield is not when you win or lose matches, but it’s the place in which you set up those victories, you build them up and ultimately you sustain them. You will get nowhere if your midfield is weak even if your defense and offense are strong. You need to link them through your midfield men.

Argentina had a strong midfield in this World Cup but in occasions it failed to control the game. Nevertheless, looking forward to 2010, there are a few names that give us reasons to be confident. Young players who performed superbly in Germany 2006 and will have an invaluable experience for South Africa.

Below I’ll talk about those names and I’ll also look somewhere else to try and find the gems that will make us a serious contender next time.

But first, a look at those midfielders who won’t be making it to South Africa 2010.

Juan Roman RIQUELME: He was flirting with retirement even before the World Cup. He said he was probably going to quit football if he was crowned as champion in Germany 2006. He’ll keep on playing now, but I don’t see him making it to our squad in four years time. People in Argentina are somewhat disappointed with his performances in the World Cup and that won’t help him.

Pablo AIMAR: The favourite of the majority of readers who have sent me e-mails during this World Cup, the Valencia play-maker will have a hard time to make it to 2010. He’ll be 31 years old and will have less pace and agility, crucial aspects of his game. Too bad he didn’t have a good chance to show them. That said, it will only depend on him. If he performs these coming 4 seasons and stays out of injuries. Will he?

The following players have a place guaranteed in our next World Cup squad:

Javier MASCHERANO: What else can you ask after what he did in Germany 2006 with only 22 years of age? He looked like a veteran being always in the right place at the right time. I expect him to sign a big contract in the next couple of seasons with an European powerhouse and become one of the best defensive midfielders in the World.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ: 3 goals in a World Cup coming from midfield. Had everything you can ask a complete midfielder and he is now being look after by Inter Milan. But will Atletico Madrid let him go? He’ll be 29 but he has done a great World Cup and the experience he got from it will be a key to get another call. Gracias MAXI!


These are a couple of players that have question marks above them. Be it for age reasons or simply for performances.

Esteban CAMBIASSO: For some reason I tend to think he will always be young! It must be because I first saw him when he was 15, playing a South American Under-17 tournament for Argentina. Then he was one of the youngest and he scored a goal in the final of the Youth World Cup in Malaysia 97. Well…for the next World Cup he will be almost 30 and will have to battle it out with a lot of talented and younger players in four years.

Luis GONZALEZ: 29 years old for a midfielder that bases his game on running up and down the left or right flank could be too many. Again, it depends on him. If he continues to impress in Portugal (FC Porto) and he keeps on playing for Argentina (Copa America, World Cup Qualifiers, etc) he might have a chance.


Very nice, right? But I know you want to read about up and coming players, those youngsters who can become the next big thing or maybe you’re looking for a replacement for RIQUELME as a playmaker.

Well...I’ve got some answers to that, and just like you, I have many questions!

First thing we need to know is who will be our next manager if GRONDONA fails to convince PEKERMAN to stay.

Because knowing who will be our next manager could help us know what type of players will he be interested in.

Here are a few names that should be considered regardless of the manager:

Pablo ZABALETA: Already settled in an important European league (Spain) and playing a great part in Espanyol’s fortunes. He won the Copa del Rey with them but the highlight of his career so far has been captaining Argentina to The Netherlands 2005 Youth World Cup alongside Lionel MESSI, Sergio ‘Kun’ AGÜERO and Oscar USTARI. He plays on the right and his game is similar to that of Maxi RODRIGUEZ.

Fernando GAGO: Boca Juniors are enjoying while they can get a hold on him. Real Madrid and other big clubs are after this elegant defensive midfielder who has already being tagged as ‘The new Fernando REDONDO’. His exquisite play will be a great asset for Argentina for years to come and I’m already dreaming of a midfield with him alongside MASCHERANO so Javier can recover balls and Fernando can distribute them. Will he move up to become a play-maker? It’s a possibility, but I don’t think he’ll do it. For the record, he is only 20 years old.

Martin DEMICHELIS: He is not a part of the next generation, but he was really close to make it to this World Cup. Maybe next time. If he continues to perform like he is doing it for Bayern Munich he can become a useful member of our team in the next few years and maybe show up as an experienced 30-year old midfielder who can also move back and play in defense.

Juan Manuel TORRES: ‘Chaco’ as he is nicknamed after the province in which he was born, plays for my team Racing Club and I know him very well. He also played for Argentina in The Netherlands 2005 Youth World Cup and he is a key member for Racing for quite a few seasons now, despite his young age. He’s been rumoured to be on his way to Europe soon, but he will stay in Racing at least for one more season. His style is similar to MASCHERANO’s. He is not near MASCHERANO’s level but he has plenty of room to improve. Has to learn how to keep his head cool as he has a tendency to see the red card very often.

Lucas BIGLIA: Another of the Youth World Cup winners last year in Holland. He is a key part of Independiente (Racing’s fieriest rivals!) and he is multifunctional. Kind of a CAMBIASSO’s style of play. The next four years will be a splendid platform for him or could be the end of his quest for a place in Argentina’s World Cup squad. Again, a move to Europe will help his chances.


Leandro DEPETRIS: He is 17 now. He became very famous when he was signed by AC Milan aged 11! He then played for the youth teams for River Plate and he is now playing for Brescia in Italy. He is far from impressing the way he did when he first appear but no doubt he has something and he can burst into the World’s attention in the next couple of years. Very skilled with the ball.


And I’ll ask you to pay attention to the next name I’ll bring up to the table. This is a very risky bet, but I’m taking my chances here. I’m yet to see him play and he is yet to prove himself at the best level, but from what I’m hearing about him so far, I think he is worthy of a mention and could become (yes…this is what many of you wanted to hear!) our play-maker of the future!

His name is Lucas TRECARICHI.

Who is he?

First of all let me tell you he is only 15 now. But his story is similar to another prodigy of ours: Lionel MESSI. Why? Because just as the ‘Atomic Flea’, Lucas went to Spain being very young (after being incredibly released by River Plate) and started playing there. Not in Barcelona, but Leganes gave him an opportunity and now there are clubs the likes of Arsenal, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are after him! He has a contract with Leganes for the next 8 years and there is already a rescission clause that will be of 6 million euros near the end of that contract.

He is a play-maker and he’ll surely be a part of our next Under-17 National Team. It’s difficult to speak about certainties when the player is so young as Lucas, but nobody can stop us from dreaming, can they?


Andres D’ALESSANDRO impressed everyone when he first burst into the scene for River Plate and won the Youth World Cup in Argentina 2001 playing with his childhood friend Javier SAVIOLA and with Maxi RODRIGUEZ, amongst others. He was transferred to Wolfsburg in Germany and people lost track on him. A rupture in his relationship with his former manager have paved the way for him to move out of there. A short spell at Portsmouth, when they won the battle to avoid relegation last season, has taken him to Spain. He’ll start all over at Zaragoza this season and will try to recover his old form to gain back a place in our national team. He performed as a play-maker with BIELSA in the last Copa America. Will he come back?

That leaves us with the following midfielders for 2010:

Fernando GAGO
Juan Manuel TORRES
(I think one of these three)

6 sure bets, 3 oldies-but-goldies who might still have a chances, 1 big bet to the future, 1 dark-horse and 1 come-back kid who wants to return to his old self. That’s the outcome of this little exercise trying to foresee our midfield of the future. I hope you’re happy with it and remember, if I forgot to mention a player you think deserves to be included in this list, just send me your comments.

Oh...and by the way...if there are problems to fill up the midfielders spots available, there is a little lad called Lionel MESSI who can move back a couple of meters and become a speedy play-maker to help them out!


Joey said...

Hi, guys!

I just checked the world cup 2010 odds from bookmakers. As you can see, all-time favorite Brazil leads the way.

Brazil 4
Argentina 6
Italy 8
England 10
German 12
Spain 14

You can have a complete list at

This list is a little bit interesting. Argentina is second, above European powerhouses Italy, German and England. I guess European teams don't really have good chances outside their own continent, do they?

So seba, if Argentina people back home are losing heart, you should show that article to them. Why, you should never lose heart if bookmakers are that confident about your team!

Seba said...

The thing I find funny about this is that none of those teams are qualified for the World Cup yet! hahaha!

By the way Joey, I'm starting my Chinese lessons in August!

Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

Seba, this is Asian Fan.

Very comforting to note the strong pool of midfielders.

And also thank you for your note on Gabriel Paletta.

Seba said...

Of course this is a humble approach to our probable midfielders for 2010.

There'll be plenty of factors that could change that. The first of them being the personal taste of our next manager.

Will have to wait and see.

That said, it can only get better with the appereance of other youngsters who could become great players in the next couple of seasons.

The Copa America and the Youth World Cup (both next year) will serve as great platforms for new players to show their ability.

Mohamed-Somalia said...

Seba, thanks for posting this long-waited information about our future Midfielders, i'm very appreciated. As for Gago, you said something like "" Will he move up to become a play-maker? It’s a possibility, but I don’t think he’ll do it. For the record, he is only 20 years old"" , we don't have to show Low-Confidence over his future of becoming a playmaker, if a player can distribute the ball and attack as well, there is a huge possiblity that we will become a playmaker. for instant Ronaldinho, Nobody thought that he would become a playmaker but now he is and shining, Not so my friend?

Joey said...

I think Maxi RODRIGUEZ is the best player in this Arg 06 squad.

Too bad he joined that big fight after the Ger-Arg game, now he is going to serve a 2-game suspension.

The only player I noticed that didn't join the fight is actually Messi. And the only one who came to comfort him is German coach Klinsman.

I heard back in Arg the media accused Messi to be cold hearted. I don't know what they were talking about. Should Messi join the fight to show how angry and heartbroken he was?

That fight, for me as an Arg fan, is the worst way to end a brilliant tourment.

Joey said...

Seba, are you serious when you say you are going to learn Chinese?

I have to warn you that Chinese is very difficult to learn. It is completely different from English or Spanish.

I married an American hubby. And after 5-year marriage, I haven't been able to teach him any Chinese at all!

Anyway, if you really want to learn (my hubby never wants to), and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. You should have my email address. I will be happy to help.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Messi sittint out the fight after the game, it seemed to be a sign of his great maturity. It wasn't as if he was sitting on the bench thinking "damn, I wish I chose Spain over Argentina." Rather, it seemed as if he was collecting his thoughts, thinking about what went wrong, and how he can change the lingering problems in the Argentina footballing attitude. Honestly, he had the calmness of a champion on his face (and I think his leadership will come out in the next cup, especially when he actually gets some good game time).

Seba said...

There was a controversy about MESSI but it has very little to do with the brawl after the match.

Apparentely (and maybe I could write an article about it in the near future) there was a clear relationship problem between MESSI and the rest of the team.

A little bit because of jealousy from the rest of the squad seeing that the media and the big companies just wanted to get a quote from MESSI or make a commercial with him and he was getting all the attention.

MESSI was always on his own during practice sessions and the rest of the time in Germany. He never seemed to get along with the rest of the group (except for USTARI -his friend- and AYALA).

On the other hand, it is believed RIQUELME was not passing the ball to those who he didn't like (CRESPO being the best example).

Those kind of things hardly help the team to step up against an adversity.

And what had a bad impression regarding MESSI was the way he was not watching the final minutes against Germany when he was in the bench knowing that he was not going to play.

Plus, when the 90 minutes were over and the players were getting ready to play the extra time, MESSI stayed alone in the bench while all the other substitutes were supporting and encouraging the 11 men who were on the pitch.

It may have to do with MESSI being still very young and reacting with all his instinct by being furious not to be able to play those crucial minutes. It may be something he'll need to work in for the future. But this distance between him and the really worrying.

As one of you pointed out right after the Serbia match, when TEVEZ scored, he celebrated with all the substitutes and it was pure joy amongst them.

While when MESSI scored a few minutes later, he went to celebrate it on his own to the other side of the field.

That says a lot. Hope the situation change. They know that if they want to achieve something, they must be all on the same side.

Seba said...

Joey, I'm serious about learning Chinese!

I know it's a whole different thing and that's why I've decided to actually study it.

I had English at school for some years but it wasn't there that I've learnt it. It was through music, movies and the internet.

I went to Italy for a year and I know Italian now (without studying it because it's very similar to Spanish and easier for us to learn it).

And I speak Portuguese as well (thanks to the TV and a few trips to Brazil I had in the past).

So I'm really looking forward to a whole different challenge.

I think Chinese is becoming more and more important everyday. It is the language of the future and besides, if I can learn it now, I might be able to get a job for Beijing 2008! What do you think?

Joey said...

I couldn't believe it!

Seba, I read all the news and comments about world cup, especially about Argentina and Messi, but I have never heard of anything that you told me!

Let's set this straight: Messi is NOT a big star yet. Ronaldionho is a big star and Beckham is a big star. Messi is only a rising young star, like C Ronaldo and Podolski. From what I saw on the fields, C Ronaldo and Podolski both seem to be going on extremely well with their teams mates.

Why not Messi? He is such a wonderful boy. I thought every one will simply love him. (Am I too naive?)

Usually the youngest member of the team is the most popular one and everyone wants to protect him as a little brother, as lease that's what I heard about Messi's situation. So that's not true???

If what you say is true, that he really didn't support his teammates on the field during Arg-Ger match because he didn't have a chance to play, that is really very WRONG. I think he should apologize to his teammates.

If he already had so many problems with his teammates now, what will happen four years later???

Joey said...

Wow, you are a real multi-linguist!

But you have to understand Chinese is completely different from any of the western languages. And although I am happy to hear that you call it language of the future, it is actually very seldom used outside Chinese community.

If you want to get a job in Beijing 2008, you may actually find your skills more than enough. Most Chinese you talk with will be able to speak fluent English. And your skills in Italian, Portugee, and Spanish will be in great demand.

Actually my husband and I do plan to travel to Beijing for Olympic 2008, and we would like to be volunteers there as well. See you there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

Seba..thanks for your midfielders list. They all seem very fresh and young talent. Do you think these midfielders stand any chance of making it to 2010?

1) Leandro Romagnoli
2) Raul Estevez
3) Mario Santana
4) Mauro Rosales

Hope to hear your comments on the above mentioned players. Thank you


Seba said...

It'll be great to be in Beijing in two years! Hopefully I'll be able to, at least, say some words in Chinese!

Alwin: There is an issue with age with some of the players you're naming.

Leandro ROMAGNOLI is somehow out of the radar of the national team. He appeared and looked amazing but then he faded out a little bit and now he is not being mentioned for the future of our team.

Raul ESTEVEZ will be very old (if not retired) by 2010. Believe me, he played for my team Racing Club and he failed to produce something worthy of a look. Now he's back at Boca and could do well, but there is no way he'll be playing for Argentina in 4 years time.

Mario SANTANA does have a chance. In fact he played for Argentina a couple of times and if he continues to perform he might be added to the squad in the coming years. Yes he could be an option but I don't see him playing as a starter. Maybe he's bench material.

Mauro ROSALES has great pace and is performing very well for AJAX in Holland. He used to play under BIELSA but PEKERMAN never considered having him. Not sure about his age but I don't think that'll be an issue if he captivates the attention of our next manager. He will struggle competing for a place with some very talented players that I will mention in the third and final part of "A look into the future" where I'll be talking about our attackers.

Plus...there is a big thing going on with Argentina (regarding friendly matches in the future) and that'll be the subject of another article I'm preparing for all of you.


Anonymous said...


Don't make use wait!

Anonymous said...

Seba, this is Asian Fan.

Thank you very much for the insight into the current Argentine team.

Modern football is a team's game. You win or lose as a team. It is also very much a mental game as well, the mental strength of the individual players and the team as a whole.

Although physical fitness, technical skills (which Argentina has in abundance) are important, the team must be able to function together both physically and mentally.

You have highlighted some problems, but I think with time, the players will mature. They will be able to leave their individual differences aside, and play as a team when required.

Vamos Argentina

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the comments of the players mentioned. I had no idea about the current state of Raul Estevez and Romagnoli.

Anyway, back to comment on the players you choose..i have a big believe in D'Allessandro. He is a brilliant player and i think he was one of the main essence of the Olympic 2004 squad. I like his style of play and to me i think he plays better than Aimar. I hope he gets to fit into the current plans cos he has brilliant vision. He is pretty nimble and quick which i think is an advantage altogether.

Also, i realised from your list, that there a many defensive midfielders which is brilliant, because they can hold the ball and win it back and being a creative defensive midfielder like Redondo is a bonus as well, so in a nutshell there is definetly a great future ahead.

Vamos Argenitna,

Joey said...

By the way, seba, I am really disappointed how tired Argentina players looked in the elimination phase.

Many players were actually rested in the last group play against Holland. Those on the field obviously didn't play very hard (except Messi and Tevez, who were competing for the startup line).

Then in the Mexico match, it seemed most players were not focused from the very beginning which led to an early Mexican goal. Though Arg equalized quickly, many key players (including Riquelme, Crespo and so) appeared to be very tired for most part of the game.

In that crusial match against German, Arg really played very well until 70th minutes. But again key players appeared to be completely exhausted in a mere second half. The ESPN commentor noticed both forwards were 'dead' on the field. I agreed. I actually couldn't see that Riquelme was very tired and I was really amazed to see him being substituted. I though Pekerman should substitute Crespo and Tevez.

I know, the whole Arg team fought like lions until the last minutes. The simple fact is that those 11 on the field is NOT the Arg team we know.

I still don't understand why so many key players were so tired in the elimination phase. seba, do you have any ideas?

Anonymous said...


Alwin here again,would like to ask about two thing, firstly i would like your comments on this player, Patricio Perez, would he make the squad in the near future?

Secondly...i came across this clip about the Argentinian team where you will be able to watch via this link :-

Could you let me know who is the artist and the name of that song? I really like the tune and it seems to be a very high-spirited rock song.

Thank you in advance.


Anonymous said...

Hi Seba,
Ingi from Papua New Guinea here.

Regarding friendlies, I had a fellow Albiceleste fan from ESPN who sent me some links totally dedicated to the Argentina National Football Team. From one of these I read about something referring to an agreement between the AFA and some Russian oil tycoon. It was in Spanish and the buit-in translator in the Google Toolbar absolutey sucks. Anyway it was about friendly matches Argentina would play in and how one way or another this Russian guy would benefit financially from these games.

Sorry for being a party pooper, but I just can't wait for an English translation on the article concerning the team which has aspecial place in my heart.

Joey said...

Seba, this year Saviola, Tevez, and Messi were competing for one forward position. They should all be in their prime 4 years later and definitely not compete for one position again. Because of their height none of them could fill in the central forward position. That's why I think at least Messi should be in the midfield.

Seba said...

Hi Ingi...that was what I was talking about when I said I had BIG NEWS coming in the next couple of articles.

I'll break down all that information and give it to you VERY SOON!

I'm sorry...I'm trying to catch up with a few things and as soon as I can, I'll give you that information.

Seba said...

Alwin! Great video!

The band playing that song is called: ATTAQUE 77.


One of the lines says: "To love is a miracle and I loved you"

It's not originally dedicated it to our national team. It's just a simple love song firstly performed by the late GILDA (try and get also her version of the song...more mellow, less rock and roll).

I'll comment on Patricio PEREZ some other time. I need to sleep a little bit now! ;)

Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for the information regarding that band.

Would be eagerly waiting for some news on Patricio Perez. I think you need a well deserved rest...

Good Night Amigo...


Anonymous said...

Check out the sumptuous skills on show from the "new Redondo" - Fernando Gago.
You can't teach these. You're either born with the skills Gago has or you don't have them at all.

Vamos Argentina!!!

Papua New Guinea.

Seba said...

Alwin, here's a little bit about Patricio PEREZ.

This skinny offensive midfielder is very talented. He plays for VELEZ SARSFIELD, a club which is becoming one of the greatest in developing players.

There is a curious thing about him. In the process before the Youth World Cup in The Netherlands 2005 he was left out of the final squad in the very last moment.

He was bound to miss that World Cup and so he stayed at home. Only to be called up in emergency to replace the injured José SOSA (who plays for ESTUDIANTES DE LA PLATA -with VERON now and managed by Diego SIMEONE-).

PEREZ is very good on the ball. I think the next couple of years will be crucial for him in terms of physical developement. Sometimes when you look at him he looks so skinny you are afraid of him getting injured with every tackle he receives.

He can shoot from outside the box and has a great eye for the assist.

He was born in 1985, so he'll be 25 when the next World Cup will be played.

I'll keep track on him from now on and I'll let you know about his progresses.

Anonymous said...

Dear Seba,

Thank you for the information on Patricio Perez. Lets hope he develop physically and become part of the future plans.

I have a couple of questions for you regarding our midfielders, firstly...when Argentina won the Youth World Cup in 1997 in Malaysia, if my memory serves me right, both Aimar and Riquelme played in the starting 11, how did Pekerman manage to accomodate both these players in one line-up?

Also, i am a very bug fan of Juan Sebastian Veron and was sad to see him not feature for Argentina anymore, i would like to know what Veron lacked to be at least part of the team? He did offer a different dimension of passing during his hey-days, but then maybe his heydays might just be over.

Thanks again for all your information.


RM said...

Nerri Cardozo is a great outside midfielder (why he's on your striker page is odd). What about Bilos? We need outside players. As for versatility, Insua can play like the classic 10 on the left (like Kempes) or the modern playmaking 10 of today. Plus he's fast and will work to recover balls (unlike D'Allessandro or Riquelme which is why Gallardo is the best Argentine 10 around). Where is Insua going?

Anonymous said...

I am very impressive with your knowledge about our future young players. I am not use to hear or read nice opinions about the players I manage(in this case, Depetris and Trecarichi), the way you did, would like to know you if it that is possible.