By 90Min
September 05, 2018

There you are, just you and the ball, head-up looking for a teammate to pass to, thinking you have all the time and space in the world to make your decision, and then you sense it. 

You get an immediate urgency to move the ball on as you feel the opposition player breathing down your neck, hunting you down as they search for the ball as if their life depended on it. And you can guess just which player it may be. 

Some players make it their mission to track the ball down, almost as if they are magnetically drawn to it. No matter which way you turn, they will be there, waiting. 

Let's take a look at a few players who haunt you at every turn...


Luka Modrić

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In addition to his wonderful ability with the ball at his feet, Luka Modric's tenacity and willingness to win it back considering his diminutive stature. 

The Croatian is an excellent tackler and possesses the stamina to hunt his opponents down until he wins back possession for his side. 

If you allow him to win the ball off you and he gets his head up, your error may well come back to haunt you. 


Claude Makélélé

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The former Chelsea and Real Madrid destroyer thrived on crushing opponents' attacks and getting the ball back for his side, and was so effective at it that the football world even had a position named after him: the Makelele role. 

Ever since his retirement, clubs have been looking for a clone of Makelele, a player who does all the dirty work with swift efficiency and let's the more attacking minded players thrive. Most players who would have lined-up against Makelele will still have nightmares about the mercurial Frenchman. 


Roy Keane

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Now here's a man who would scare opponents senseless before a ball had even been kicked; his famous tunnel brawl with Patrick Vieira a prime example of the how much it meant to the Irishman.

Roy Keane was famous for striking fear into both opposing and his own players, they knew he would be in their face from the first whistle. The Irishman was a general that commanded respect, even TV pundits now sitting across from him on the sofa are weary of him. 


Sergio Busquets

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Sergio Busquets is of a dissimilar build to most of his Barcelona teammates, but perhaps the most crucial cog in the juggernaut of a side that occupies the Camp Nou. 


The Blaugrana's frightful attacking quartet of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho will usually dominate headlines, but Sergio's ability to read the game, to harass and dispossess is a massive factor in Barca's ability to suffocate teams.


Busquets couples defensive diligence and aggression with exquisite technical ability; he is the complete defensive midfielder, and would be sure to give you nightmares were you to face him.


N'Golo Kanté

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Having lost Makelele in 2008, it took Chelsea almost a decade to find a replacement equally as spine-chillingly effective in defensive midfield in N'Golo Kante. 

Makelele's successor, however, may have usurped the man who made the defensive midfield position his own. Kante is by far the most troublesome of opponents to face for any midfielder, given the scarce amount of time the World Cup winner allows you on the ball. 

It is almost like he is possessed by a greater power that gives him an unrelenting ability to hound down the opposition in search of the ball. 

Turn left. Turn right. Run forward. Run back; Kante will be there, shadowing your every move. 


Casemiro 

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In Casemiro, Real Madrid and Brazil have a physical powerhouse sure to haunt the dreams of opposition midfielders the night before they face him. 

He allows the creative players ahead of him to flourish, whilst crushing the attacking hopes of those coming the other way; he is a player you would do anything not to face as an opposing attacker; he's strong, smart and proficient in every department. 

Even the mere thought of attacking the defence which he protects should be enough to make the hairs on your neck stand up, for the consequences could be brutal. 


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