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Barcelona halfway report: Midfielders

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Rankings for Busquets & Co.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Sergio Busquets


FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
16 15 42 61.9% 1168 90.8% 73 24 5 1 2 9 9

After overcoming an uncharctestic slow start to the season, Busquets is back to his best. It has long been said that Busquets doesn’t receive the plaudits that he should and anyone who has been watching Barça for more than five minutes can see his importance.

Take his Clásico performance in which Zidane deployed Mateo Kovačić in an effort to man mark him. The comfort on the ball allowed him to play a forward pass within a whisper of Luka Modric to Ivan Rakitić and that set the wheels in motion for Barça’s first goal whilst Kovačić clung to Messi.


Ivan Rakitić


Villarreal v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
17 15 22 63.6% 1132 90.3% 66.6 13 1 0 3 7 6

This season has been a tough one for Rakitić. Asked to play out on the wing, it is clear he is not comfortable. Forever opting to come inside rather play wide has caused Barcelona to become narrow and relies on the full backs to provide width. When he’s played wide, he is ineffective. Not offering much in attacking threat, Rakitić has been relying more on putting in a defensive display but that’s not what he was bought for.


Andrés Iniesta


Valencia v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
14 13 16 87.5% 710 89.3% 50.7 9 0 1 0 8 8

Go back to the summer of 2017 and many wondered if Andrés Iniesta was even first choice anymore. At 33 years of age, it could have been argued that the Spaniard had given all he had but the reality was that a change of system was needed to get the best out of the club captain.

Ernesto Valverde deployed him in a position that does not require a large amount of running whilst still allowing him to see plenty of the ball. His importance to the team is once again obvious and while he will continue to pick up injuries, he has missed 40 days through injury this season, the reduced amount of KM covered should lessen his time out and allow him to be ready for the final stages of the season.


Paulinho


Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
16 9 20 70% 548 88% 34.3 13 2 6 2 8 9

If there is a 2017 comeback to rival Barcelona’s against PSG, perhaps it is the one of Paulinho. Seen as a symbol of everything wrong with the current board and the seeming lack of a plan, fans’ views of Paulinho only worsened when a video went viral of the Brazilian failing to do a few kick-ups at his presentation.

For all the hate and ridicule projected at Paulinho, the player himself seems unfazed by it. He has genuinely added something to the Barça midfield. A directness, a powerfulness, a Frank Lampard-esque desire to make late runs into the box and score goals. He is Barcelona’s third top scorer behind Messi and Suárez and it is testament to his desire to drive forward and look for goals.

Teams will always sit deep against Barcelona but with Paulinho, Valverde may have found the key.


André Gomes


FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
8 2 10 60% 127 88.2% 15.9 6 0 0 0 6 5

Perhaps the best way to describe Gomes’ season so far is meh. He’s been okay in patches but made no indication he is ready for a consistent starting spot. He has made eight league appearances but only two have been from kick off. His substitute appearances have largely been to provide the role of fresh legs rather than a tactical change. Will need to improve drastically or else this will be his last season at the club.


Denis Suárez


Barcelona v Las Palmas - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Games Played Games Started Tackles Tackles Won Total Passes Pass Accuracy Passes per Game Fouls Conceded Yellow Cards Goals Assists Your Rating Sam's Rating
10 3 5 100% 232 85.8% 23.2 5 0 2 2 7 7

A similar case to Gomes but Suárez has actually shone some promise when he’s appeared. He’s registered two goals and two assists in the league and while he as of yet has not met the potential talked about upon his re-signing, he has made progress.

Given he’s now 23, Suárez won’t be happy being a bench player for much longer regardless of who the bench belongs to.


Midfielder of the season so far


Sergio Busquets (47.6%)