Is Juventus’ Arturo Vidal the best box-to-box midfielder in the world?
The Bianconeri’s display over the last two years has put their midfield ranking among the likes of teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. The man orchestrating the middle of the pitch has been Andrea Pirlo, but has the bearded genius been the most important piece to the puzzle?
Arturo Vidal was purchased by Juventus in 2011, promising to be a strong, tenacious player with a knack for scoring goals; this is exactly what Vidal turned out to be. His presence in the midfield for Antonio Conte’s squad has been crucial in leading Juventus to a Serie A title in his first year, and surely another this year. Not to mention, Vidal’s three crucial goals and exceptional defensive work during Juventus’ Champions League campaign has allowed them to progress easily through the competition into the final eight of Europe’s most elite teams. Vidal is the perfect all around player, and he has ten goals and ten assists to show for it thus far on the stat sheet.
Statistics do not do justice as to describe how well Vidal has played throughout the year. The statistics cannot tell you how hard he fought off an injury at Stamford Bridge in Juventus’ first Champions League appearance this year, netting a crucial goal immediately after the injury to spark a comeback draw against the reigning European Champions Chelsea. Nor can the statistics describe how important Vidal has been in support of Pirlo, so that he can run the game in the way he does. This is not to say Pirlo is not one of, if not the best midfielders in world football right now, but without Vidal, he would have a harder time running the game in a way which he merits the nickname “Mozart.”
Vidal is a multi-purpose player with the ability to create plays in the midfield with excellent crosses, brilliant foot skills, near perfect tackling ability, and an eye for the net. All of these abilities have been put on display in European and domestic competitions. He is the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, because he has proven that he can provide these qualities on the pitch consistently with roughly five to six tackles per game and a passing percentage of over eighty-five percent. He is one of the toughest competitors to play against in all of Europe, possessing the ability to recover the ball in his own box, and make the key pass to Pirlo to set up Juve’s attack. He can of course make runs himself, in which he tends to have above average pace and excellent stamina of course, but a great deal of strength on the ball when making his runs.
Many argue that Yaya Toure, Sami Khedira, or even Daniele De Rossi obtain a skill set greater than Vidal’s. This is simply not true. Toure does not have the defensive skill in which Vidal has, or the tenacity to win the ball in his own box. De Rossi does have this ability, but his shooting ability is either hot or cold, and he rarely performs on the offensive side of the ball. Khedira, while being a crucial part of Madrid’s midfield, lacks the defensive ability Vidal possesses. The fact of the matter is, Vidal is defensively superior, and has scored more goals this season in all competitions than all of them combined domestically.
Vidal is a winner, and a crucial part of Conte’s 3-5-2 to say the least. His support of Pirlo and pure tenacity will prove to be more and more valuable as Juventus fight for another Serie A title, and venture on in European competition. A testament to Vidal’s ability is how badly many phenomenal clubs around the world have sought him. Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich have all been rumoured to be offering Juventus substantial offers for the midfielder. Vidal claims he is happy at Juventus though, and surely the Juve faithful are happy with him.