Tchouameni, Romeu and Archimedes’ principle

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“Give me a point of support and I will move the world,” proclaimed Arquímedes and football took it seriously. It is a principle that fundamentally applies to the activity of the midfielder. A look at the recent European Cup winners reveals the importance of this position, embodied by Busquets at Barça, Casemiro at Real Madrid, Kimmich at Bayern and Rodri at Manchester City. Jorginho was considered essential in the title that Chelsea won in 2021. He helped him obtain an unexpected Bronze Ball. At the start of the Champions League, two midfielders are under the microscope: Tchouameni at Real Madrid and Romeu at Barça.

Although the expectations are radically opposite in the two cases, their function is similar. Tchouameni is a physical wonder and an expensive player. Madrid paid 80 million for his transfer, with a clear idea of ​​his work and his future. He signed him to occupy the position that Casemiro had governed with admirable efficiency. The purpose was so clear that the Brazilian player was immediately transferred to Manchester United for an amount similar to that which Madrid had used to acquire Tchouameni.

Romeu will turn 32 next week. He has returned to the club where he began to forge himself. Barça paid 3.5 million to Girona for a player who has seen the world – Chelsea, Valencia, Stuttgart and Southampton – and knows the job well. He is not a star, nor does he pretend to be. He returned because Barça is short of money and does not dare to place Frenkie de Jong in Busquets’ position, to which he seemed destined when he arrived from Ajax.

Tchouameni senses a potential that does not quite appear. Divided into parts, he has it all. He is faster and as powerful as Casemiro, he has offered great details as a finisher from mid-distance, a good foot for passing and even better for driving, strong in the aerial game and owner of a great display. At first glance it would seem that he was born to play as a midfielder, but until now he has lacked two essential qualities: compacting his varied qualities and adding the strategic sense that he lacks.

Real Madrid has several of the best midfielders in the world, equipped with very different skills. None is a textbook pivot. Tchouameni has no real competition in a position that Kroos, Bellingham and probably Camavinga can circumstantially occupy, in exchange for losing his main virtues. Tchouameni does not finish imposing himself and raises doubts. He does not guarantee defensive efficiency – against Real Sociedad, Ancelotti took him off the field and everyone thought it was good – nor the necessary architecture to attack.

Barça begins its European season after two successive eliminations in the first phase of the Champions League, a failure that this season cannot allow. For the first time in recent years, he has put together a long and competent squad, notable in the midfield, where he brings together Pedri, Gavi, Gündogan and De Jong, helped from defense by Cancelo and from the midfield by João Félix. Everyone wants to play, but none of them are pure midfielders. De Jong is a hybrid who needs a water carrier, a role that Romeu assumes with more professionalism than flight.

The two teams face a dilemma in the upcoming Champions League. They reserve one of the most relevant positions in football for players who, for different reasons, do not convince, are difficult to replace, and deprive a place in their teams from top midfielders. In short, they do not comply with Archimedes’ principle.

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