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With Inter Milan the dominant force in Italian football currently, one less fashionable name has particularly stood out – Esteban Cambiasso. Carlo Garganese asks if the Argentinean ace is the best defensive midfielder in the world at the moment.

For all the hundreds of millions of pounds that Inter President Massimo Moratti has shelled out on Inter since taking over the club in the mid-1990s, it is rather ironic that possibly his best-ever signing to date, Esteban Cambiasso, cost him absolutely nothing.

Cambiasso first came to the fore as a 15-year-old in the Independiente youth team, and impressed so much that he was snapped up by Real Madrid.

At Real Madrid Cambiasso was never appreciated and had few chances to shine, mainly due to the fact that the Spanish public in general simply do not understand the virtues of defence. It was for this same reason that Real decided to sell probably the best defensive midfielder in the world at the time, Claude Makelele, to Chelsea in 2003, rather than pay him the wages that he deserved.

Anyhow, Cambiasso’s contract at the Santiago Bernabeu was allowed to run down, and he signed for Inter on a free transfer in 2004.

The move did not gain much publicity and Cambiasso was expected to be just a squad player, especially due to the fact that the world-renowned Edgar Davids, who was just coming off an outstanding six-month loan deal at Barcelona, had also just signed for the club.

As things panned out it was Davids who would be sitting on the bench, as Cambiasso immediately made the defensive midfield position his own, with an outstanding start to his career in Italy.

Within six months of his first season at Inter I had come to the conclusion that Cambiasso had the potential to be the best defensive midfielder in the world. Three years down the line, I am in no doubt that this is now the case.

Perhaps the best attribute of Cambiasso is his tactical sense - positionally he is virtually perfect. His ability to close up the space in the hole between the defence and midfield makes it virtually impossible for attacking midfielders or trequartista’s to shine. Anyone who watched the Milan derby will see how much Brazilian superstar Kaka struggled due to Cambiasso’s positioning.

The Argentine’s marking, tackling, anticipation, bravery and stamina are also as good as they come. When a player attempts to take on Cambiasso they rarely go past him, and the 27-year-old will be just as fit and fresh in the last minute as he is in the first.

However what also makes Cambiasso so special, and perhaps separates him from the player closer than anyone to matching him, Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano, is that the Inter star also possesses brilliant offensive attributes as well.

Cambiasso is often the instigator of attacks, his passing and creativity is intelligent, and he rarely fails to find his target with a ball.

He has also chipped in with a fair few important goals. Indeed this season he already has five to his name in all competitions, which is hugely impressive for a defensive midfielder.

These include decisive goals such as the winner in the Milan derby before Christmas, as well as a crucial brace to help Inter come from two goals down to beat CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

Many people talk of the importance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Inter, and this is very true, however in my opinion Cambiasso is equally vital to the Nerazzurri machine, particularly in Serie A.

Of course it is always difficult selecting the world’s best player in a certain position because there are just so many things to consider.

For example Andrea Pirlo is the best deep-lying playmaker of his generation, and essentially he takes up the same position on the field as Cambiasso. However would you describe him as a defensive midfielder? I do not think so.

Pirlo is a unique player – he is a one-off. His position is unorthodox and for this reason I am excluding him from this discussion. He operates outside the realm.

The two players that come closest to challenging Cambiasso are Mascherano and Chelsea’s Michael Essien.

Defensively Mascherano is the equal of Cambiasso, however he certainly is not as complete as his countryman, especially in the offensive department.

Essien is more of a modern footballer based on power and pace, and as a critic I have always favoured intelligence and guile over this type of present-day phenomena. Nevertheless the Ghanaian is still a world-class player and any team in the world today would take him.

Cambiasso however would have been world-class in any era - indeed he probably would have been better 20 or 30 years ago when the game was slower and more tactical. Now that is a scary thought!

What are your views on this topic? Is Esteban Cambiasso the best defensive midfielder in the world? If you disagree – who do you think is better than him?
Or is it Michael Essien, Javier Mascherano, Owen Hargreaves, Mahamadou Diarra or Gennaro Gattuso?
 

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Cambiasso is definitely one of the best there is ! He did great even at Real, I remember . He's been great for Argies as well. Him, Mascherano,Hargo,Gattuso and Essien at the moment are up there with Essien probably the best
 

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A few years ago I would have said Claude Makelele but he's past his prime now.

I don't really watch Serie A so it's difficult for me to assess Cambiasso, although he played very well for Argentina at the last World Cup.

I think Essien is the best in the Premiership.
 

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cant see how hargreaves hasnt been mentioned, hes been class for us and in many ways a better all round player than the others mentioned
 

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eoininho said:
cant see how hargreaves hasnt been mentioned, hes been class for us and in many ways a better all round player than the others mentioned
we are a bit biased after all - hargreaves has often been injured and his qualities are "undiscovered" to a continental observer. he wasn't God knows what for Bayern and for England he has been absolutely phenomenal in 6-7 matches . And Cambiasso has been really great for both Inter and Argies for quite some time now. They are all wonderfull players and i'm trying to be unbiased towards hargo ( it is hard btw);)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
eoininho said:
cant see how hargreaves hasnt been mentioned, hes been class for us and in many ways a better all round player than the others mentioned
Yeah, Owen Hargreaves is a great DM, there's no doubt 'bout dat. But when u r comparing him to the very likes of Michael Essien, Javier Mascherano, Esteban Cambiasso, Gennaro Gattuso & Mahamadou Diarra, he will be overshadowed by them. ;)
 

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red_devils4life said:
Yeah, Owen Hargreaves is a great DM, there's no doubt 'bout dat. But when u r comparing him to the very likes of Michael Essien, Javier Mascherano, Esteban Cambiasso, Gennaro Gattuso & Mahamadou Diarra, he will be overshadowed by them. ;)
Diarra hasn't really impressed me at his first 7-8 months at Real. He has just starting to pay off
 

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CROoney from Dubrovnik said:
Diarra hasn't really impressed me at his first 7-8 months at Real. He has just starting to pay off
He's the main reason why Real Madrid has shipped in the least goals this season. Also, they hve a 100% home record @ home. ;)
 

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red_devils4life said:
He's the main reason why Real Madrid has shipped in the least goals this season. Also, they hve a 100% home record @ home. ;)
i don't consider him as THE MAIN reason( one of the reasons definitely ), Casillas is definitely the MAIN reason.It's not like their opositions havent had many chances - they had A LOT of chances ! The things he saved against Zaragoza were not "normal"... As Capello said - and I agree - Casillas and Ruud keep that team "alive"
 

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CROoney from Dubrovnik said:
i don't consider him as THE MAIN reason( one of the reasons definitely ), Casillas is definitely the MAIN reason.It's not like their opositions havent had many chances - they had A LOT of chances ! The things he saved against Zaragoza were not "normal"... As Capello said - and I agree - Casillas and Ruud keep that team "alive"
I hate it when we hve to ruin threads like that. Now, can we go back to the main topic? Thanks! :)
 

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I don't know about the best but he'd certainly be up there. Gattuso for me is the best and if Hargreaves were injury free he'd be next. Then Cambiasso!
 

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red_devils4life said:
I hate it when we hve to ruin threads like that. Now, can we go back to the main topic? Thanks! :)
we didn't ruin it, no, we simply disagree... I think that Real's oponents have made a lot of chances to say that their defence and midfield is , like, the main reason... Had there not been for __Casillas it would be a different story now imo
 
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