The one dimensional defensive midfielder are a dying breed in football. No longer will clubs settle for a CDM that simply breaks down play and then quickly passes the ball to his nearest team mate, to lead the attack. They instead expect not only an attacking threat from this position but a goal threat and it has become integral for each top team to have one.
This can be shown by the recent transfer of Nemanja Matic to Chelsea, you would have thought Mourinho’s priority in January would have been a new striker, with Chelsea short of a title winning striker. However I also believe that Mourinho had also seen the difference in ability between City’s Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, two versatile defensive midfielders, with 19 goals between them in all competitions this season and his desperately poor John Obi Mikel, who is the definition of a one dimensional CDM, offering little other than slowing the pace of a game. The bravery of bringing back a player that they had only let go three years ago for £21 million shows how vital Mourinho believed he could be to their title hopes.
Juventus’s domination in Serie A can also be put down to their strength and depth of powerful, versatile midfielders. With Paul Pogba and Vidal being at the heart of of their midfield, this can also explain Manchester United’s poor season, as they simply lack one of these players. Not keeping Pogba at the club could in future go down as Sir Alex’s single biggest mistake in his career, with the player already being valued at £40million and Moyes’s visit to Juventus recently showing his desire for one of the two players in the summer.
As the game is developing these ‘work horse’ style players, however popular with the fans will become scarce, as a tireless work ethic is no longer enough to succeed at the top level and a certain amount of technique is needed, in order to offer the team another dimension going forward, and ultimately success in games.