Where is the scoring midfielder?
Frank Lampard, Francesco Totti, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes. All were classy midfielders who scored goals for ridiculous wages from the centre of midfield. They tied their runs to the edge of the box and could shoot from any angle on the pitch. Sadly football's evolution has forgotten the scoring midfielder.
This group could do anything on the pitch. In contrast the modern day midfield player is adept at doing one thing: which is what he has been told. There are not enough players who can take it upon themselves to create and finish or are at least willing.
When Lampard and Totti were in their primes the basis for football was to win no matter the style or players. Managers such as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have placed so much emphasis on playing style footballers have become automatons. Everyone's role is strictly defined. You can say the football is attractive and pleasing. So is a canary in a cage but it is not free.
Other than wingers exchanging flanks players no longer switch roles in the run of play. Kevin De Bruyne is content to lay off passes to the strikers. He will only shoot when he has a clear sight on goal. The 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 allowed midfielders to score. Now formations are tampered with to place goal-scoring burdens solely on attacking players.
With roles strictly assigned, defences know what's coming. The game is now all about execution rather than imagination.
I said Scholesy et al made ridiculous wages. What does that make the money being thrown about these days? Too many footballers are content with taking fat paychecks than to go the extra mile. There is no hunger nor motivation to be among the goals. Zico, Lampard, Totti, Gerrard? They all timed their runs to perfection and could alter the course of a game single-handedly.
Right from the academy setups, players are being coached to be one-dimensional. There are too many philosophies that lay more emphasis on one-dimensional players. Individuals no longer have the confidence to switch roles in the blink of an eye. Know your role. Don't get caught out. Be disciplined rather than instinctive.
Footballers have become one-dimensional. Most players can’t take on extra roles or find it in themselves to go up the pitch when they are free. N’Golo Kante, Wilfred Ndidi, and Casemiro are defensive specialists tasked with babysitting centre-halves lest they get in trouble.
Cesc Fabregas, a threat to score earlier in his career, has become a deep-lying play-maker content with dictating play from the base of the midfield. Most central attacking midfielders are only adept at laying off final passes to the strikers without doing anything else. The two exceptions may be Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Thomas Mueller. Yet both have recently been marginalised by managers who didn't know how to exploit their wayward tendencies, Mueller by Carlo Ancelotti, the Armenian by Jose Mourinho.
While football has evolved, it has also been tamed. Fans miss the midfielders who could score upward of 20 goals a season. If they don't, they should.