There’s always a room for Trequartistas at Milanello

Trequartista’ or the ‘hole’ player is the position employed by the playmaker behind the striker(s). It literally  means ‘three quarters’ in Italian and invariably sports the Number 10 jersey. Unfortunately modern football formations such as 4-4-2, 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 have brought the forth the death of the Trequartistas. Common tacticians would prefer wide players who cut inside rather than a-classic number-10-player that is stationed in the midfield area.

Playing in a wide role generally requires a fair degree of pace, and in that respect the likes of Messi, Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo have no problems, and have their place in the modern game.In contrast the players that traditionally play as enigmatic artists who produce individual moments of genius, but have no enough the pace and trickery to play out wide will be rarely found. The likes of  Rui Costa, Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti and Juan Román Riquelme will be deemed as “the last generation of the old-style playmakers”.

However these innovation doesn’t force Milan follow the trends to abandon the role of Trequartista. Since the reign of Carlo Ancelotti, Milan feature a different style of football to every other club in Europe by introducing a stellar 4-3-2-1 formation. Milan tend to pack the midfield with central playmakers – up to 4 of them – meant that Trequartistas  is not the only creative outlet in the centre of the side, and Milan still played well even when the Trequartistas had a poor game. These are Milan Trequartista from  Oscar Tabárez‘s era in the mid 90’s until the decade 2000’s under  Carlo Ancelotti (2001 – 2009) , Leonardo Araújo, and Massimiliano Allegri

Roberto Baggio (1995-1997), the finest footballer in his generation, helped Milan won serie A title in 1996, but was recognised as a “flop” Milan Trequartista since he couldn’t transform his bright performance like he did in Juventus and Gli Azzuri. His time in Milan proved a mutually disappointing affair, often playing second fiddle to the likes of Zvonimir Boban, Dejan Savicevic and Roberto Donadoni. These were players who had become stars at AC Milan and adhered to Capello’s strict methods. A creative free-spirit like Baggio on the other hand came with a Ballon d’Or and an expensive pricetag. After Capello’s departure to Real Madrid the gifted playmaker was given a reprieve by new coach Oscar Tabárez. However, the Uruguayan’s stint at the San Siro was a disaster and he was gone by Christmas to be replaced by Arrigo Sacchi.

Zvonimir Boban (1991-2002), a member of Croatian golden generation in the mid 1990’s, giving 2 scudetti for Milan in the period of 1996 and 1999. In particular, his partnership with Albertini hold Milan in good stead for years to come and provide the platform for continued success for AC Milan. Milan won the Champions League in 1994 and he was the star of that side which swept away all challengers before coming up against Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona dream team, a match in which AC Milan were underdogs and expected to be swept aside themselves.

Leonardo Araújo (1997-2001). A brazilian world cup winner and was given number 10 shirt for the Selecao in 1997. Helped Milan to make famous 7 consecutive wins to leapfrog Lazio for Serie A title in the end of 1998-1999 season

Rui Costa (2001-2006)  is well-known for his fine technique and considered as “the perfect number 10”. Michael Cox, editor of ZonalMarking.net says: “At his peak Rui Costa had the complete attacking game – he could dribble, shoot and pass brilliantly – defenders simply didn’t know how to deal with him”. Formed electric dynamic duo in Milan Midfield with Il Metronomo Andrea Pirlo and won 5 trophies during his spell at Milanello

Rivaldo (2002-2004), despite became an integral part of Milan’s Ancelotti in winning 2002-2003 Champion league, failed to maintain the stellar performances as he did in Barcelona and Selecao. On the pitch Milan’s new signing, who was 30 and in passing his prime, found his playing opportunities severely limited by coach Carlo Ancelotti. Unlike in Catalonia, where Rivaldo was the undisputed superstar, he had to share equal billing in a Rossoneri dressing room which featured the likes of Rui Costa,  Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo. His career at Milanello was practically over after the arrival of a young Brazilian talent, Kaká, in Summer 2003.

Clarence Seedorf (2002-present) started his career at Milan as a central midfielder, then often transformed to be Trequartista after the departure of Rui Costa. His trademark is disguising a pass beautifully and delivering many assists. In 2007 Brazilian legend, Pele praise him as “the one quietly providing so much of the balance for Milan”. Also recently AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri joked that Clarence Seedorf should be cloned due to his instrumental role amid injury crisis in Milan.

Kaká (2003-2009),  showed dominant display of Milan Success in the mid 2000’s, brought Scudetto (2004), Champion League (2007), and Intercontinental Cup (2008) titles during his career at Milanello. in 2007 Pele reckons Kaká as the new Johan Cruyff and says “He keeps getting better and is so fast. He sees the goal early and when he sets off from midfield he is unique. “Kaká has grown in a way I never expected. And when he is in form, like he is now, Milan are just devastating.”

Ronaldinho (2008-2010), another flop Trequartista. Couldn’t win a single trophy during his spell at Milan.  His party antics is one of the reason behind his fading performances

Kevin-Prince Boateng (2010-present), a more physically strength trequartista who play defining role under 4-3-1-2 Allegri’s formation

About abdilsani
A freelance football writer and an environmental engineer

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