The quarters of the nobility of Sami Khedira are not in question: at just twenty years old, in 2007, scored the decisive goal which allowed Stuttgart to win a historic German title (fifteen years after the last), surpassing in sprint Schalke; in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, when the German national team suddenly found themselves without Michael Ballack, injured in the last game of the season of his Chelsea, Joachim Low did not hesitate, and he chose to entrust the crucial role of all-round player which was Ballack, captain and star of the Nationalmannschaft.
From then on, his career has been a Rossinian crescendo, with the landing at Real Madrid and later triumphs , in which he starred up to 15 November 2013 and the rupture of the cruciate ligament of the knee at San Siro against Italy ; an injury that effectively ended his story with the Blancos, not because of the physical problem itself, which led to a long convalescence (nearly six months prior to see him on the field in next May) he is now behind from the clinically point of view, but because of a dispute with the leadership of Real on contract renewal in view of the 2015-2016 season.
A confrontation that put him in fact, though not formally, out of pink throughout the season: in 2014-2015 only once played the whole 90, and has not set foot in the field from March in CL, and even from the beginning of February in the league; we are therefore faced with a player who, at the start of the season 2015-2016, will find himself to restart after almost two years of substantial inactivity, and therefore represents in any case a big unknown, at least from the point of view of the game rhythm and the ability to re-acclimatise to the pace and timing of professional football.
At first glance this might be a problem, considering that he is a dynamic player and he loves play all over the field; the good news is that he knows how to read very well the games and game situations, and then, if you allow a gradual and unhurried reintegration, should return to his best after finding the feeling with the game.
Despite the physical cuirassier, which allows him to tower the field like Vieira, Khedira has in fact in his head, rather than in his body or feet, his most remarkable quality: is one of those players who always understands, before the others, where to position himself to create havoc or in holes in behind opposing lines , and conversely is very good at not getting caught behind his defensive position.
For the avoidance of doubt is not a director nor a purely defensive midfielder, but a “box to box” midfielder , a raider who loves to play all over the field and to go looking for openings in the opposing defensive lines, but at the same time with a tactical discipline which allows him to reposition himself quickly to avoid leaving holes in his own: the natural comparison, and most often used to describe his game is just that of Vieira from Arsenal.
With Real and the German national team his best performances have coincided with the use as all-round midfielder in the 4-3-3, or as movement player in a “doble pivote” in the front of the defense 4-2-3- 1 or 4-3-3, adding value to a more technical midfielder as Xabi Alonso, Kroos, or Schweinsteger, with respect to which was placed in the most forward position and was left free across the field, pressing and patting on defense and going on the offensive in percussion.
Mourinho liked to use him as a tactical weapon to adapt to the opponent, game by game: against maneuvering teams and the dribble maneuvering unleashed him in the attacking midfield, making him play as an attacking midfielder in constant pressure on the opponents creators of the game ; against more direct and aggressive opponents, he used him as a central midfielder, either half right or left, depending on which winger he wanted to break free from tasks of coverage; in particular situations, or for specific needs within a game, he even lined him up as a right-back.
The role in which instead has struggled the most was that of director, isolated front of the defense, which periodically some coaches have tried stitching him (especially in National team), but is beyond his ropes; not only offensively, because he is a polite but scholastic passer, who loves playing simple and safe and does not have the vision of the director’s extensive natural game, but also defensively, because in spite of his size has in the tackle his main shortcoming (which differentiates him decisively in comparison not only with Vieira, but even with defensive directors as Javi Martinez, Matic, Gabi).
He is not particularly skilled in sinking the contrast, which is a vital deficit, and then instead of trying to avoid it, is choosing to position himself to close the opponents passing lines, or at worst, accompanying and stalling the opponent, rather than attack him to tear the ball from him by force; This wait-style, though inconspicuous and not very appreciated by the fans (the fans love, on defense, the rocky tackle that brutally interrupts the opponent game plot) it is however tactically valuable, making it very difficult for an opposing team able to “break through “or create gaps in the portion of the field patrolled by Khedira.
In Juventus optical, therefore, his eventual contribution can not be that of vice-Pirlo or heir of Pirlo as a regista, a role that would suffocate his best qualities highlighting his shortcomings: instead could and should be a key pawn to give Allegri tactical variants in addition to those which his multiple and versatile midfielders already provide him.
He could for example be crucial against closed and compact defensively teams: his main skill, to disengage forward and find the “soft spot” of the defense after unloading the ball to a teammate, allows him to undermine or at least move even more compact defense departments, but at the same time, thanks to his tactical discipline, these offensive raids never stay for their own sake or out of tactical context ; he is also a master in going to head the ball to the far post, and from dead-ball in motion, with deep insertions necessarily absorbed by the full-backs, which normally give him 10-15 centimeters and they do not have a chance to oppose him in elevation (also this was a small play which Mourinho liked to use it frequently).
Could also give new perspectives to Allegri’s tactics, reinventing a 4-2-fantasy in which the low director will share in parallel with (Pirlo or Marchisio), entrusting him with the task of fitting and dynamism that allow the simultaneous use of three or even four purely offensive players.
Might eventually be used himself as a atypical attacking playmaker just like as Ballack, the role which notoriously for Max Allegri exerts a special fascination, where Khedira was used only situationally, but where he has always disengaged very well, being able to combine his dynamism, his discipline in going pressure on opponents and his skills of deep insertion.
Remains, ultimately, an atypical player, who lacks some essential qualities to make him rise to a level of excellence, but he is quite flexible, experienced and tactically smart to find space, and come in handy at any high-level team .
adapted an article from juventibus.com