FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 Special: Sergio Busquets, the priceless player

FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012 Special: Sergio Busquets, the priceless player

In a special five part series, totalBarça will feature each of the FC Barcelona nominees from the 23-man shortlist for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or. Over the next week, a different contributor will present a nominee and argue for why he should win this year’s prestigious award before the announcement of the final three contenders on November 29th. To start the series, doris86pl highlights the debutant on this year’s list, Sergio Busquets.

Our Ballon d’Or series this year begins with Sergio Busquets. One might say that with players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi on the squad, it’s very difficult for a player like Sergio to get proper recognition from fans. Since there’s some truth to this, I’ve decided to search for words of wisdom about Busquets from football players and coaches, the professionals who see more than the average fan can from one’s couch.

Xavi Hernandez, the Professor of the midfield and a lover of football said simply that “without Busquets we could never have achieved what we have achieved, he is an extraordinary player who is never wrong.”Xavi spoke these words of praise in December 2011, right after Barça won the Club World Cup title, but in almost every interview he underlines the importance of “Busi” in the magic formula of FC Barcelona.  To understand why Sergio’s role is so important, we need to remember that the whole team plays with a certain philosophy, the style we believe in as Pep described it. With endless passes and a very important role for midfielders, Barcelona needs someone like Busquets, with brilliant judgement, intelligence, ruthlessness, physical power, great technique and a hard working attitude. Someone brave enough to make quick and sometimes risky decisions to save the play.

Josep Guardiola, who coached Sergio in Barça B team and promoted him to the first team in 2008, also had words of praise for the young player: “He’s the best defensive central midfielder in the world. Barcelona has a priceless player.” Guardiola’s statements, from January 2012, went even further: “He’s tactically very strong and will only become more important for Barça in the future. He can follow in the footsteps of Carles Puyol and Xavi. He’s very humble and calm, but doesn’t mind speaking up when he sees fit either.”

Busquets can speak up for sure, but he only does so when it can help the team. He does not try to be a shining star, instead he prefers to stay in the shadows and do his job. He says simply, “my job is to work in a way which doesn’t shine as much as others but these records are solely for the history books. They are tough to achieve, we know that, but  if I’m doing my job well it’s because I’m in a brilliant team.”

He is not only vital to FC Barcelona but also at the international level. Busquets has not only won the European Championship in 2012 and the World Cup in 2010 with the Spanish National Team, but he has also been one of the first choice starters for the last three years. His statistics are impressive. Since his first call-up to the senior squad for a friendly against England on 11 February 2009, he has played 51 games and experienced only 5 defeats. During Spain’s impressive campaign in South Africa in 2010, he featured in all the matches and player nearly every minute for the eventual World champions. Coach Vicente del Bosque said that he would like to be re-incarnated as Busi. Well, that’s probably the highest praise one can expect from one’s own coach.

At only 24 years of age, Busquets has won every important football team prize: Spanish League titles (2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11) , the Copa del Rey ( 2008–09, 2011–12), Spanish Supercopa  (2009, 2010, 2011), UEFA Champions League (2008–09, 2010–11), UEFA Super Cup (2009, 2011), FIFA Club World Cup (2009, 2011),  the UEFA European Championships (2012), and the FIFA World Cup (2010).

He is a player with a great positional sense and is blessed with excellent vision. Busi can solve dangerous situations and thanks to his brilliant technique, he can quickly re-start attacks. His solid defensive skills in the midfield allow Xavi and Iniesta time and space to do their magic closer to the goal area. You can imagine that without Busquets, the midfield extraterrestrial duo would be forced to focus more on defense than playmaking. Busquets in certain ways is very similar to Josep Guardiola, both don’t believe in winning at any cost, have a high level of football intelligence, and a great view of the field.

Tito Vilanova said recently that “we all know the level of Busquets, the best defensive midfielder in the world.”  Still just 24, this Catalan star already has a long list of honours and experience beyond his years. Sadly, the FC Barcelona and Spanish player is very often underestimated by the media and the fans, but the good news is that he’s finally gaining some recognition. His name on the list for the 2012 Ballon d’Or shows that he is at last gaining proper recognition for his extraordinary skills.

Images: Michael Steele/Getty Images, Denis Doyle/Getty Images, Jasper Juinen/Getty Images