The return of the prodigal son – who once emerged from the youth ranks of the rightly famed La Masia but grew into an exciting prospect at the sky blue side of Manchester – didn’t exactly go as desired so far, but an inspired idea from Jordi Cruyff can re-establish the young Spaniard’s ascendant career at Barcelona, rediscovering his strengths in a new role.
Maybe for ones, it didn’t come as a surprise to see Eric Garcia as a midfielder. He is excellent on the ball, whereas he doesn’t really excel on the defensive side of the game. So, logically, why don’t put him further up the pitch, where he can parade his progressive skills with less direct defensive responsibility on his shoulders? However, a position change isn’t as easy as many would think, but thankfully, García adapted well to the new challenges.
Initially, many could have been concerned about whether this change will work, and given the numerous less noticeable factors for external spectators like us that affect these roles, they were right to do so. Just to picture the difficulties of such modification, the in-game positioning – which implicates great spatial awareness paired with a lot more scannings in 360° (double the angle a defender has to cover) – and the increased intensity, pressure, and ball circulation are all part of the changing circumstances coming with the new role.
So, what makes Eric García capable of successfully filling this role? First of all, he is excellent on the ball, his refined passing and progressivity belong to the very elite of centrebacks. He is confident and proactive with the ball at his feet and is ready to progress the ball upwards when given the chance, be it via passing of any range or carrying. He is technically gifted, calm, and ready to find his peers even in the final third.
On the other hand, the new position also masks his physical weaknesses better as his slowness and small stature doesn’t disadvance him as much in duels as he can rather defend frontwards, press, and intercept in a well-working midfield machine rather than exposed to more 1v1 battles in the last line of defense.
Overally, the idea to play Eric Garcia in the pivot role has been God-given, which can revitalize the young Spaniard’s role in the Blaugrana team while seeking the heir to Busquets’s throne who is more and more likely to leave in the summer. While there are still questions to be answered about this modification, mainly about the maintenance under the pressure of high-profile opponents, the sensations are positive so far. Hopefully, he can continue as well as he started.