After ten comes six: how the playmaker is evolving.
The ‘six’ has evolved into an all-action monster. Andrew Timbrell explains how and introduces the young stars who will lead this new generation.
As leaves fall for Autumn, dust settles on the summer’s record-breaking transfers. So many of Europe’s elite young midfielders moved, and as Jude Bellingham evolves into a ‘ten’, bursting through Real Madrid’s final phase, his peers in the Premier League that attracted a similar fee - Declan Rice and Moisés Caicedo - are instead redefining what it means to be a ‘six’.
If you include Enzo Fernández, Arsenal and Chelsea have invested more than £300m since January 2023 on central midfielders. A glance at Rice and Caicedo’s data from last season demonstrates what both clubs have been looking for: physically imposing ‘duel monsters’ whose interceptions catalyse quick transitions across phases of play.
This summer, the pair became the first defensive midfield entrants into the ‘Top Ten Most Expensive Transfers of All Time’ list. These fees were once reserved for elite strikers, which begs the question: what’s changed? Are the prices a matter of organic inflation in the market, or is there something else at play?
This is the tale of a new midfield breed. This is the story of the players who break ancient moulds, who don’t conform to the classic one-or-the-other standards, who are duel-winning demons and world-class creators, often in the same breath.
These are the players who can do both; these are the Dual Monsters.
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