Respira. Breathe. Take a deep breath. You will need it, and the world needs you to take one. This world is hectic, and it takes little to get swirled away by the current. The loudest voices don’t always win. Behind the scenes, there is always a quiet actor, in the shadows better than ever. Those are the bridges to success, but they maintain the skeleton of the structure. The name of one of them is Busquets, Sergio Busquets.
Busquets did not grow up in a favourable context. The midfielder was not always the favourite, undisputed starter he has become after seven hundred games. No, if anything, he was discarded by most. He was discarded by most, because he was thin. Skinny, lanky for some, even. In a world reigned by bulky, energetic, athletic profile, Sergio Busquets was the exception to the rule. He was not shiny, whether from outside or inside. Busquets didn’t dribble and overtake his opponents like Andrés Iniesta. He was not the fastest player to recover or run across the adversary’s pitch. But he had one, a brain. From early on, Sergio used his brain, faster than his peers.
Conquering his place
He flew past academy ranks, and when Pep Guardiola heard of him, he let him play, and he quickly understood. This was the profile. Pep knew, because Busquets was his own Pokemon evolution; the same critiques were the same that almost prevented him a career when he was rising in the academy ranks. Pep knew what it meant to use your brain to overcome physique, and he saw in Busquets, the Chosen Son. He was misjudged, yet under his wing quickly imposed himself. On the other side, Yaya Touré fell out with Guardiola.
Sergio was always there. At the right time, for the right reason, with the right intention. Nobody really seemed to grasp how he precisely did it, but nobody really knew how to stop him either. Sergio used his fine technique to overcome opponents, whilst also seemingly playing a second earlier. This is also true for his usual midfield partners, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández. In the best of times, Sergio was almost taken for granted by Barcelona, and by football altogether. Equally so, off the pitch, he was just as calm. Amid all the crises, he remained still. Nothing really seemed to perturb him, never involved in any major scandals. A rare achievement in Barcelona’s highly-politicized, and even further, toxic environment.
Staying for too long?
Despite the storm, Sergio resisted to pressure. Known to gamble through his opponent’s legs by turning his body with the ball and finding the diagonal pass, everything seemed simple with Sergio. So simple, fans forget what he did was not basic. No, it was highly complex. Many claimed football modernized, by 2016, arguing Sergio’s time was over: Xavi left, and Iniesta was about…was it not his time, too? But Sergio remained the pillar, organizing his team from the back, unbothered by the critiques. His focus had always been his team, rarely active on social media. The insults followed, but Busquets continued.
More and more fans wanted him out: Ernesto, sometimes, tried playing without him. So did Koeman, claiming the old guard would not be indisputed anymore. Frenkie de Jong was acclaimed by many as the evident replacement. Except that, well, Frenkie de Jong are not the same. One would not organise, but accelerate. Suddenly, the tides turned, a consensus formed itself as the necessity of Sergio Busquets on the pitch became more and more evident. One only realises so once it’s gone. And now, 700 games. Sergio Busquets is amongst the captains for years, the older soul, still remaining still.
What differentiates to this day Sergio to Frenkie, or for the matter, anyone that has tried replacing him, is his mentality. Little are those that can keep calm, absorb pressure, and find a way to pass the opposition’s press. His leg definitely have worn out, don’t be mistaken: Busquets needed to go, because football always evolves.
No one can replace Busquets
There will be no Sergio Busquets. If he has become a major inspiration figure for upcoming generation, he also is not possible to replicate. Players should find their own legacies, and the pressure to replace him is immense. There is not only way to dictate tempo through the center, unlike most culés would suggest. Busquets showed many tools, of great usage for future toolboxes of future players. Busquets is part of the players that made an entire system work, as everything revolved around him, despite the lack of sass and drip according to a fast-paced popular culture.
It’s important to commemorate what Sergio Busquets did: Lay down a legacy of a different way to understand the game, where mere tackling does not define pivoting the game one’s way. Instead, it can be elegant, with finesse even. Not many assists or goals, but many pre-assists, through-balls and unregistered diagonal passes to find his wide forwards. Sergio Busquets revolutionized the average understanding of what defending and attacking at the heart of the pitch meant, uniting them.
Gràcies per tot, Busquets.
Positional play expressed through all phases of play, a football fan that fell in love with the Beautiful Game over 10 years ago. Occasionally writes about FC Barcelona for Barca_Buzz, on tactics and attempts to explain the game to the casual eye.