Traditional wingers have become a rarity in recent times, currently being considered only a luxury and an isolated individualistic figure inside a collective. Players like Neymar, Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi…are more limited or uncommon these days and therefore cost a fortune. The ability to take on a defender is very sought after in any side, whether they counterattack or play positional football.
Dribblers are cheered when they succeed, but called greedy when they fail.
However, it’s essential to TRY the individual action, no matter the outcome of the attempt.
Guardiola once said that, if there’s a player that’s allowed to take risks and is afforded to lose the ball, that’s the winger.
In fact, he’s almost obliged to take risks, cause that’s his main function. Without risk, which means improvisation and unpredictability, there can be no unbalance.
That’s why we can never call a forward like Carles Pérez selfish when he’s willing to defy his marker. He’s doing his job, whether or not he wins the duel.
Carles, like Ansu, Pedro, Tello, Cuenca or any winger that has emerged from La Masía, represents one of the hardest profiles to find at present. Electric and with the essence of that endangered species of traditional wingers, but with the team spirit and positional awareness required in modern football. Developing these footballers, teaching them the Barça way while not clipping the wings of their talents, is extremely hard.
Cruyff and Wim Jonk, former Head of the Academy at Ajax, used the slogan ‘the culture of street football must be implemented in the academy’ in their renovation plan of the Dutch academy.
Johan said: “Everything started in the street, that was where I began to think of turning disadvantages into advantages. The pavement, rather than an obstacle, could be a teammate in a one-two. When you fall on concrete, it hurts, so you play football trying not to fall down”.
Street football nurtures the freedom of learning on your own, and it’s something that should never disappear.