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Sergo Busquets in a file photo taken in February. AFP
Busquets goes out at the top

Busquets goes out at the top

Many thought this would be one season too many for the 34-year-old, yet he's been a model of consistency

Rob Palmer

Friday, 12 May 2023, 13:25

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The timing of Sergio Busquets' departure from FC Barcelona was as perfect as the timing of his tackles throughout the most illustrious of careers.

He's a number five who can't head the ball, a Barça midfielder who can't split a defence with a pass, a Spain international who can't dribble, and he rarely scores a goal.

Despite the description above, he's deserving of legendary status and retires from Spanish football at the peak of his powers. Coach and former teammate Xavi has failed to persuade him to stretch his career to one extra season. He will go out at the top by lifting the La Liga trophy as a proud and victorious captain of his only club.

Generally, Barça youngsters burst onto the scene in a blaze of publicity. The gangly 20-year-old Busquets stumbled into the first team. He was billed as a striker, but he clearly wasn't a natural scorer. One of my co-commentators struggled to find any strengths in an awkward looking late-developer who didn't fit the club's DNA.

There was a theory that he'd only been given a chance because his father Carles had played for the club. A decade and a half later he's won the lot and leaves them wanting more.

Busquets broke the mould of the club's 'tiki taka' midfielders and redefined how the game should be played. Now every club wants a Sergio Busquets-type player as their pivot.

As Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic strutted their stuff, he covered their positions. He read the game and acted as the disrupter. He wasn't shy of flooring an opponent if the game needed breaking up and was the master of sportsmanship. He rewrote the book of the dark arts.

If anyone is crazy enough to say "Show us your medals," it would take an age. He's won the World Cup and European Championship with his country. He's got his hands on the Champions League trophy three times and won the Copa del Rey on seven occasions. When he lifts the La Liga trophy it will be his ninth Spanish championship.

He's appeared in more Clásicos than any other player and holds the records for victories. Real Madrid will be happy to see the back of him.

Many thought this would be one season too many for the 34-year-old, yet he's been a model of consistency. He's missed the Liga matchday squads on just three occasions. The fabled pivot has been pivotal in the clinching of the title in the most challenging of his eighteen years at the club as boy and man.

After failing to persuade his pal to extend his career Xavi summarised: "He is one of the best midfielders in world football and the best defender in Spain's history."

That says it all. Busquets achieved institutional status.

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