In football, playmakers are primarily midfield’s commander-in-chiefs, and there is an array of positions these players take on in the game.
One of them is the advanced attacking midfield role – which particularly standouts, given how players in this position can completely dictate game play, change the tempo and course of a game, and always be at the centre of whatever buildup the attack creates.
They orchestrate it all, and with a great quality and a mix of the right attributes needed to excel in a candidate filling this position, the team is bound to go places. This is the power station of the attack, and it must be optimally functional at all times.
The diversity of this role, famously nicknamed the “nine and a half” by erstwhile UEFA president Michel Platini makes it all the more special. A number 9½ is one whose job description sees him combine half of the jobs of a number 9 and a number 10. So, he’s part-striker, part-attacking midfielder.
His positions could vary, depending on what formation the team deploys. But oftentimes, he’s situated right in between an out-and-out striker (a traditional number 9)and a central midfielder (a traditional number 10). The likes of Ozil, Alli and Mata fit into this category, given how Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United normally lineup in a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation.
A number 9½ can also get to play as a second striker (supporting striker or inside forward). But that would mean he is able to bag lot of goals as opposed to just only creating assists and carving chances; which is believed to be the primary function of players in this role. Thomas Müller perfectly defines this given his knack for finding the back of the net with ease.
Another position a number 9½ occupies is on the wings. From this position, these players are naturally able to make dribbling runs, score many goals, and get as much assists they can get. They often fall back to help link play between the midfield and the attack. One of such players currently excelling in this type of 9½ role is Messi whenever he is playing for Barcelona.
Great tacticians will often make a 9½ an integral part of their setup as the right player with all the right qualities will always almost guarantee the victories if everything falls in place.
Even whenever the number 9 isn’t able to provide the necessary goals, this is who steps in to deliver the goods if he’s so attuned to do so.
Or if the number 10 is having a bad day and unable to pull the strings, the 9½ can assist with his creativity to distribute balls to the flanks while in a deeper role. His uselessness and resourcefulness cannot be exhausted.
Overall, the number 9½ remains a lethal weapon that is capable of damaging opposition backlines provided he is rightly deployed in any of the aforementioned roles that naturally put their talents and skills to full and maximum effect.
As far as having a great attack goes, he is the most important player to have. If he is fine form, then except everything to go well in the mission to secure needed victory.