Attacking midfielders (AM, CAM or AMF) are often the play-makers of the team. This role shares many attributes with the defensive midfielder, but these players are not usually known for their defensive capabilities, which is why they usually play alongside a defensive midfielder. In this post we discuss the skills you must have to become a great attacking midfielder.
The main characteristic of the best attacking midfielders is that they are dangerous and unpredictable. Achieving this requires technique. Maradona, Zidane and Johan Cruyf, to mention some, had unrivaled technique that allowed them to change games in an instant.
Technique does not mean juggling the ball a thousand times or mastering fancy tricks. Having these skills helps, but won’t make you a good footballer. How many freestylers do you know that play at the highest professional level?
A player with good technique can master the skills that are required in-game day. A good attacking midfielder can dribble opponents at speed while keeping close control of the ball. They can also set teammates for a goal with a simple touch of the ball.
Zinedine Zidane was in a league of its own when it came to technique. The following video is an amazing sample of what this legend of the game was able to do at the highest level of professional football.
Defensive midfielders are required to have a high passing accuracy rate. They can achieve this by keeping their passes simple and short. On the other hand, attacking midfielders need to be accurate and have a bigger repertoire of passing techniques.
A wide range of passing allows these players to always give a pass when the situation requires it. They can produce killer passes that set their teammates for a goal. This is why the best-attacking midfielders often top the charts of assists in their leagues. For example, Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fàbregas top the all-time assists in the English Premier League.
Assists can sometimes be more beautiful than the goal. The next clip proves it.
Reading of the game is one of the most important characteristics of attacking midfielders. They are the brain of the team and most of the attack is orchestrated by them. Attacking midfielders need to understand and recognize all the different situations before they even happen and be responsible for pacing the game.
Players with high Football IQ are also aware of their surroundings. Awareness is spotting opponents closing in or being able to recognize a teammate making a great run while dribbling with the ball. To achieve this, the best footballers play with their head up to spot both teammates and opponents at all times. It enables attacking midfielders to make faster and better decisions when they actually get the ball.
Kevin De Bruyne is a modern example of high Football IQ. The video below analyses his game in detail, particularly his awareness and decision making skills.
Positioning is another attribute shared with defensive midfielders. A good attacking midfielder is always at the right place at the right time. They achieve this thanks to their Football IQ.
Attacking midfielders find pockets of space to be dangerous and effective. They make themselves always available by moving around often and surveying the field every few seconds to find the space they need to run into. This way they can get into space quickly, receive the ball and turn at the opposition.
The next video analyses the positioning and movement of professional players. It is not focused on attacking midfielders, but a good number of the examples in the video are.
Good attacking midfielders can finish and are often the top scorers of their team. These players have an exquisite technique to finish from a short distance. However, given their position in the field, they score many of their goals from medium and long distances, often from impossible angles.
Because of their great shooting technique, many attacking midfielders are in charge of executing free kicks and penalties. This is part of the reason why they regularly top the goalscorer charts.
Diego Maradona is an example of a top scorer midfielder. He was the top scorer in Serie A in 1987–88, with 15 goals, and was the all-time leading goalscorer for Napoli, with 115 goals, until his record was broken by Marek Hamšík in 2017. He is still one of the top scorers for Argentina (5th behind Hernan Crespo). The video below showcases a variety of shoots on goal over his career.
If you are thinking on becoming an attacking midfielder or a coaching looking for one, the above characteristic are good place to start but there are more things you need took look for. Attacking midfielders that combine these skills make champions of otherwise average teams.
What do you think makes the perfect attacking midfielder? We would love to know. Leave your comments below.