Since Cruyff gave Barcelona its unique personality, the Blaugranas have always been defined by their good treatment of the ball and, therefore, by their exquisite midfielders. From the ‘4’ in Pep Guardiola, to that unparalleled trio with two tiny, gifted and extraordinarily intelligent interiors.
With its special identity, Barça’s midfield has been impossible both to stop and imitate, though even the Catalans have had difficulties to find the right pieces for such highly demanding football. The youngsters from La Masía have all the required concepts very internalised, but they don’t tend to be risked due to their lack of experience. On the other hand, the established stars and veterans that come from outside usually struggle to adapt to such a particular style.
Nevertheless, I honestly think Barcelona currently has its three ideal players to form a differential middle line, with the perfect balance between knowledge, maturity, youth and talent. Busquets, De Jong and Arthur are born to succeed together and to delight the audience and the most refined palates of the culé gourmets.
Sergio no longer is the third component of the midfield, but, as a legend with the number 5 at the back, he’s the protagonist and the guide to two emerging talents. Well, we can’t say that De Jong is a hot prospect anymore, but a reality already and a footballer with the capacity to influence the flow of the game to his own liking and rhythm. Meanwhile, Arthur, only 23 years old, still has to get accustomed to the competitiveness of European football, but has showed glimpses of an exclusive and delightful quality on the ball.
With the vision, control and golden touches from the three, Barcelona has a magical and rare triangle at its disposal. Not an equilateral triangle, but an asymmetrical one that dominates the time and space and gives the team the fluidity in the ball circulation it needs. Let’s hope Arthur can remain fit once he returns from his injury and we have this midfield starting week in week out to give Barça the singularity it has been missing in recent times.