In a recent interview, Marcelo Bielsa discussed the challenges of identifying a player suitable for a specific midfield role, the #8 position, or as he’s labeled, the “Modric” position. “This position demands a player with the defensive skills of a number six and the offensive prowess of a number ten,” Bielsa told reporters. “Modric is a phenomenal player who fully understands the game and has the ability to defend, the skills to attack and understanding the game in both directions,” Bielsa said, referring to the 38-year-old Croatian skipper and former Ballon d’Or winner.
Bielsa’s football philosophy extends beyond mere technical abilities. He emphasized his inclination towards players who prioritize maintaining possession over those solely focused on ball retrieval. According to Bielsa, integrating a player with traits resembling an “eight,” akin to Modric, into the number six role significantly contributes to overall team possession. He firmly believes that a team’s enhanced possession directly correlates with reduced time spent chasing and recovering the ball, contributing to greater control and efficiency on the field.
Real Madrid’s midfield magician has created a lasting legacy and will be a model for modern midfielders for years to come. Much like it was done for Makelele and the defensive midfield position, Bielsa is trying to name a position after the Croatian as he is the personification of the values and traits Bielsa looks for in that position.