Carrilero, for many, may sound like a fancy word meant to describe a playmaker. Still, fans of the Football Manager franchise and observers of South American football will quickly point out the subtle differences.
For better or for worse, the word carrilero has entered the modern football fan’s lexicon. But is this like The Makelele Role or Thomas Muller’s Raumdeuter, something exclusive to a limited group of footballers?
Not quite! FM fans and tactics-obsessed fans believe that there’s a claim to be made that the carrilero has an important role in the setup of modern football teams.
Today we’ll be counting down the 10 best footballers who take on this role, look at its history and try all so hard to justify the fact that calling them playmakers would work just as well.
Where does the carrilero come from?
From your Football Manager 23 save, of course. The FM franchise is no stranger to popularizing exotic terms like this. However, as in most cases, there’s a real history behind the word. Besides, it’s a role that football tacticians can use in real life.
The footballing philosophies of South America and Europe have always been at odds with one another. The carrilero role is further proof of this.
The position of “carrilero” has its roots in Argentina, where it has been an integral part of their football culture for decades. Derived from the Spanish word “carril,” meaning “lane,” this title refers to a player’s responsibility in controlling the central lane during midfield matches. This is the player that determine the pace of the match and propel the team’s attacks through the central area of the pitch.
And this is not a new term either. Some of the most renowned “carrileros” throughout history include:
- Fernando Redondo, one of the greatest “carrileros” in history. He played for Argentina and several top European clubs, such as Real Madrid and AC Milan, with a style and technique that set him apart. Redondo had an uncanny ability to control games from deep in midfield with ease. Italians might call his role “regista” The English would call it a “deep playmaker,” but we’d just be splitting hair.
- Juan Roman Riquelme who had an illustrious career at both club and international levels, being renowned for his vision, passing ability, and outstanding ball control. As part of Argentina’s team that reached the final of the 2014 World Cup, Riquelme played a pivotal role. And, yes, the Argentine press referred to Riquelme as a carrilero.
- Javier Mascherano was a legendary “carrilero,” playing for Argentina and for clubs like Liverpool, Barcelona, and Juventus. He earned praise for his defensive abilities and knack for breaking up opposition attacks, in addition to his leadership on the pitch. His role has also been described as the “Pac-Man role” for his ability to gather up loose balls in central areas.
- Jorge Valdano was primarily a striker. However, he also played in midfield and is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the “carrilero” position. After playing for several top clubs in Argentina and Spain – including Real Madrid – Valdano succeeded as both a coach and administrator within the game.
Does this do enough to convince you that FM23 didn’t just invent the carrileros? Let’s look at some of the distinctions between other similar roles then.
What’s the difference between carrilero or segundo volante?
“Carillero” and “segundo volante” are two roles in modern football that have both similarities and differences.
A “carillero” is a central midfielder responsible for passing the ball and controlling game’s pace. These creative individuals possess good vision and passing ability. They often operate in a deeper than other attacking midfielders. The term “carillero” is more commonly used in South America, particularly Argentina.
On the other hand, a “segundo volante” is also a central midfielder, but their primary role is to provide support to the offense and also share in the defense’s duties. These players are sometimes called box-to-box midfielders. They cover ground while contributing to both offensive and defensive phases of play. “Segundo volante” is a
Which term is more often used depends on the region and context. In South America, “carillero” may be used more in wide areas, while in Europe “segundo volante” might be more familiar despite the fact that it also originated in Argentina. “Interior” is another term is used to describe this position.
Nonetheless, these terms aren’t always used consistently – different coaches or analysts may use different language when describing similar positions on the field.
Is the carrilero just a playmaker under a different name?
Ok. So, the carrilero is responsible for controlling the pace and directing play through the middle of the pitch. That’s a playmaker, right? Yes, and no.
A “carillero” is a type of playmaker who typically positions themselves deeper and more central than other attacking midfielders. Their duties include controlling the game’s pace, passing the ball to their teammates and creating attacking opportunities through their passing ability and vision. Though they still possess attacking potential, “carilleros” typically take on more defensive or supporting duties within the midfield.
“Playmaker,” on the other hand, is a more general term that could apply to any midfielder or forward with the talent of creating chances for their team. They can operate in various positions such as central midfield, wings, or upfront. The playmakers typically possess excellent technical abilities, vision, and creativity, allowing them to break down defenses with passing, dribbling, or shooting skills.
In conclusion, “carillero” is a particular type of playmaker who typically operates in the deeper midfield position, but “playmaker” can refer to any number of players capable of creating scoring chances for their team.
Top 10 modern carrileros
We’ve established that the carrilero role has quite a history. But does it have a present outside of complex FM saves?
Sure. There are several high-profile players that have the qualities required of a carrilero and that have been described by the sports press using this term.
The top 10 modern carrileros include:
Rodrigo De Paul
De Paul is an Argentinian midfielder and thus one of the most appropriate owners of the “carrilero badge.” De Paul is renowned for his exceptional passing ability and his defensive contributions in central areas of the pitch.
In Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad of 2022, no other player got closer to the original vision for the carrilero role than Enzo Fernandez. He could read play, join in the defensive line, or carry out quick counter-attacks. Fernandez was one of the stand-out stars of the tournament.
Cammavinga is a teenage sensation and already one of Real Madrid and France’s best players. The Golden Boy nominee operates in deep central midfielder role. He is as capable of recycling loose balls as he is at launching powerful attacks through the center of the pitch.
There’s a very good reason why Ryan Gravenberch was on the radar of most important clubs before ending up at Bayern Munchen. The 21-year-old is an exceptional midfielder who can successfully take on the carrilero role because of his passing and positional understanding.
Barella is the kind of player that fuels the pride of Italian football supporters. He is a central midfielder that can do everything right. This includes taking on the role carrilero. Barella is an agile player who is able to make difficult passes look easy.
Caicedo‘s performances in the Premier League were enough to ignite a bidding war for his services this season. A lot of this has to do with the way that the youngster can take on the carrilero role. The Brighton midfielder may be a great tackler with extraordinary positional understanding. Still, his passing is also deserving of attention.
Bentancur’s transfer to Tottenham didn’t work out quite as well as Antonio Conte expected. However, the Uruguayan’s role was energizing the Spurs midfield and providing strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, with the central support they needed. Bentancur certainly has the ability to do this.
Ivan Ilic is the youngster that top Serie A clubs will soon be fighting over. The 22-year-old can play in a variety of midfield roles. He uses his physicality well and possesses the skill on the ball to make managers trust him.
Kroos has won multiple domestic and international titles with both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. He stands out for his vision, passing ability, and excellent technique, allowing him to control the midfield and dictate the pace of play. Other, younger Real Madrid midfielders may be catching the world’s eye lately, but Kroos’ ability remains undeniable.
Verratti stands out due to his technical ability and excellent passing range, which allow him to create chances and win back possession in midfield. Furthermore, Verratti plays for Italy’s national team, where he was an outstanding performer during their successful Euro 2020 campaign.