What happened to the number 10?

Pogue Mahone

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Thread for the football hipsters. So I’ll probably post and run. But an interesting point on BT Sport tonight, when discussing Dybala struggling to get in the team at Juve. Is it a tough time for traditional number 10’s?

Used to be the position where all the best players could be found. And most kids used to want to play as a 10. Nowadays seems like the real talents prefer to play as wide forwards. And the likes of Rashford and Kane fancy themselves as creative hubs.

Is this actually a thing? Or am I imagining it?
 

Bepi

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Well, Dybala is the nearest thing to Roberto Baggio we have playing at Juve these days but Baggio was infamously deemed a “9 and 1/2” (more a finisher than a creator) by the utmost Juve #10, aka his predecessor, “Le Roi” Michel Platini. Problem with #10s is they can only play in 4-3-1-2 / 3-4-1-2 systems these days, which are too progressive for our historically defensive standards.:lol: Just consider it was Ramsey playing there yesterday vs Kyiv and as soon as they started coming forward in the second half, Pirlo went back to a much safer 4-4-2. I mean, Dybala actually plays as a second striker but, again, he is no Del Piero and he does not score too many. So, all in all, less talented than Baggio, less prolific than Del Piero, less brainy than Platini or Zidane.
 

Infordin

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So, all in all, less talented than Baggio, less prolific than Del Piero, less brainy than Platini or Zidane.
I feel like that's supposed to be an insult, but simultaneously, it is not.
 

MrEleson

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Dybala isn't a prototypical #10. He is more of a second striker that thrives best when playing in tandem with an orthodox CF. He essentially has the same predicament Griezmann has playing for Barca but on a lesser scale.
 
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Bepi

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I feel like that's supposed to be an insult, but simultaneously, it is not.
He is the player I love the most as a Juve fan, his “La Joya” nickname (The Jewel) just sums it up! All his goals are pieces of art and his left foot is magic. That said, he is not Ballon D’Or material, sadly. If you want an insult from me, he is a rich man Alvaro Recoba.:p
 

Rozay

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Every player started being judged by their defensive capabilities first. Except defenders, who, around the same time, started being judged by their offensive qualities first.

Number 10s were not good enough defensively, generally speaking. Also, their attacking output, from a pure numerical point of view, is typically not good enough to justify them doing as they please. A top classic number 10, pens excluded, could easily put up a 7G + 11A season in the 90s, and be considered amongst the best players in the world. Won’t cut it today.
 

Grande

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Modern 10’s are Bruno, Müller, Messi, Firmino, Neymar and I’d say Grealish too - they may roam, they may play from one side, they may be hard working, and they may or may not score all that much. What makes them carry the inheritance of the classic 10 for me, is that they have license to roam, take chances and to a lesser and lesser degree shirk a bit defensively, and are expected to provide something extra, unpredictable, to orchestrate and make play in the final third. Harry Kane is like a no 10ish no 9.
 

Skills

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There's a good number of them around now actually. A few years ago it looked like the end of the role with the '8.5s' being more favoured after Guardiola favoured De Bruyne & Silva in that role, and the decline of the likes of Ozil, Mata etc.

But Griezmann, Muller & Bruno have been hugely influential in that role in the last season.

At the end of day, great players are extremely expensive and influential assets. If you've genuinely got a great 10 around, the coaches will have to find a way to make it work and sod their holistic idea of football (which may not favour a player in that role). If they don't, the club will often just make the decision to get rid of the coach and find one who does.
 

Demyanenko_square_jaw

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I don't think the idea of the classic 10 that runs the attacking play centrally from between the lines and is inolved in both midfield and forward play was ever really a big institution in European football compared to South American tactics before they went so Euro influenced. It's always been something that some teams/nations used and a lot didn't, that would ebb and flow with the trends of what the most successful teams were using.

Look at the football tactical cultures of a lot of the biggest Euro nations. It's never been a widely used thing across generations in British football. German football often favoured what most would now consider an 8 as their primary creators...Netzer charging forward from deep, Overath, Thon, Hassler, Flohe etc.... They had more players like that and creative wide-forwards and wingers than sides built around 10s in their great period from 72-90 imo, or would build around a box to box player that wasn't particularly a great creative/orchestrator like Matthaus or the more direct Ballack. a lot of flat 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 use.

Italian football had their own "trequartista" concept that tended to be much more of a strictly forward line player, so you had one idea of the classic 10 there, but also a lot of resistance to it from generally defensive tactical mentality. It wasn't a standard, or the most important thing in their tactical concepts and the primary creator in the midfield line was often their "regista" idea, or just filled with workhorses with creativity coming from wide areas.

Netherlands had their 4-3-3 focus and not much exstensive tradition of the 10 at all. Spain often had deeper creators.France seem the most tied to it of the biggest nations, at least as far as giving one prominence in their most successful international teams.
 

simonhch

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This post is about 5 years too late. 10s have been out of style for ages, really since hard pressing from the front came into vogue. Your typical laconic number 10 was immediately discarded as being antithetical to that approach. However, I think we are seeing the gradual return of the role, albeit with a new twist to it. You look at Bruno, Grealish, Maddison, for starters who are hard working no 10s all starting for EPL sides. Then you have Chelsea investing significantly in Havertz, who is a real throwback number 10, who can also happen to play as an inside forward - as is necessitated in the modern era. Everton have brought in James, who is making a comeback, and even Barca have been starting Coutinho.

Football always goes in cycles. 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 was the shit, then it became 4-2-3-1, then 4-3-3, and eventually it'll go back to some twist on the 4-4-2 again, as the default en vogue tactic du jour.
 

Gio

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Look at the environment we’re in - elite clubs dominating possession, build up starting from your own penalty box, fewer turnovers of possession. The game-running elements of the classic 10 are now typically picked up by deeper players because teams are looking to control the game and the ball from their own defensive third. Those trends are driving the use of 4-3-3 amongst many elite teams. Firstly because it’s a shape that enables greater control of the ball from the goalkeeper onward. And secondly as it adheres to the play-stretching positional principles that are essential to open up packed defences (attack v defence more common now than in previous generations). So your 10s in these systems either become a bit more hard-working and team-orientated as 8s, shuttle into the wide forward roles, or even operate as the 9. All depending on their strengths of course.

So I think they still exist, and are more plentiful than before because that environment gives them a wider range of roles to find a niche in. But they’re mostly just used differently.
 

archiebald

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This post is about 5 years too late. 10s have been out of style for ages, really since hard pressing from the front came into vogue. Your typical laconic number 10 was immediately discarded as being antithetical to that approach. However, I think we are seeing the gradual return of the role, albeit with a new twist to it. You look at Bruno, Grealish, Maddison, for starters who are hard working no 10s all starting for EPL sides. Then you have Chelsea investing significantly in Havertz, who is a real throwback number 10, who can also happen to play as an inside forward - as is necessitated in the modern era. Everton have brought in James, who is making a comeback, and even Barca have been starting Coutinho.

Football always goes in cycles. 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 was the shit, then it became 4-2-3-1, then 4-3-3, and eventually it'll go back to some twist on the 4-4-2 again, as the default en vogue tactic du jour.
Great post. Think there'll be a place for the #10s but how the modern game is played necessitates ability, or rather willingness to press - which isn't realistic without a good engine. Which is why someone as talented as Ozil has fallen so far out of favour these last 5 years.