Do you know who a versatile player is? Who are the most versatile football players? You’ll get answers to these questions in this article.
In football, not all players can play in more than one position. However, some footballers are very comfortable playing beyond their natural positions. These types of footballers are a joy to watch and are like gifts to coaches as they can easily tweak their position and change tactics – these are the most versatile football players.
Although there are too many players who can play in more than one position, we’ll only highlight the most versatile football players.
1. James Milner
Positions: Right-back, Left-back, Central Midfield, Right Midfield, and Left Midfield
Milner is a natural central Midfielder but he plays comfortably in the above-mentioned positions because he is a versatile player.
Notably, in the 2016–17 season, Milner played all through as a left-back for Liverpool. In that season, Alberto Moreno was misfiring and very unreliable. Klopp trusted Milner as Left-back than Moreno and the Englishman did not disappoint.
There is no Englishman that is as versatile as Milner. In fact, it is safe to say that Milner is one of the most versatile footballers ever.
2. Javier Zanetti
Positions: Right-back, Left-back, Central Midfield, and Right Wingback.
Inter Milan legend – Zanetti is one of the most complete midfielders of his time. But many football fans today may not remember that he is a natural Midfielder because he played in too many positions.
If he is not playing in Midfield, Zanetti played most of the time as a right-wing back for Inter Milan and the Argentine National team.
3. Rafa Marquez
Positions: Center-back Central Midfield, and Defensive Midfield
During his early days at Barcelona, Marquez was a sturdy Defensive Midfielder.
The emergence of Busquests (from La Masia) and the signing of Yaya Toure, who one of the most decorated African players, ensured that Marquez spent most of his playing time as a Center-back.
Marquez often played in these positions also for the Mexican national team.
Positions: Right-back, Center Back, Central Midfield, and Defensive Midfield.
During his time at Monaco, Fabinho often played as a Midfielder and as a defender (especially as Right-back).
In Liverpool’s injury-ravaged (2020-21) season, Klopp often deployed Fabinho as a Center back.
5. Joao Cancelo
Positions: Right-back and Left-back.
Cancelo is a natural right-footer and right-back. However, since his move to Manchester City, Guardiola has regularly played him as a Leftback.
The Portuguese defender has been a revelation in whichever position he played under Guardiola.
Cancelo is definitely one of the most versatile players in Manchester City.
6. Daley Blind
Positions: Left-back, Left Wingback, Central Midfield, Defensive Midfield, and Center-Back.
Without any doubt, Daley Blind is one of the most versatile football players.
In his early days at Ajax, Blind started out as a Left-back. He also got comfortable playing Center Back.
Notably, during Louis van Gaal’s era at Manchester United, Blind was deployed as Defensive Midfielder, Left Wing Back, Center Back, and Left back.
Blind performed admirably in these positions and he earned a lot of praise.
7. David Alaba
Positions: Left-back, Central Midfield, Defensive Midfield, and Left Midfield
At the beginning of his career, Alaba started out as a Left-Back. The signing of Alphonso Davies ensured that Alaba was moved to Center back at Bayern Munich.
Alaba adjusted easily to his new role as Center Back and he plays in the same position for Real Madrid.
In his national team, Alaba often played further forward for Austria as a Defensive Midfielder or as Left Winger.
In time, maybe Alaba could be one of Madrid’s most decorated players.
8. Alphonso Davies
Positions: Left-back, Left Wingback, Right Wing Forward, and Left Midfield
While at Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS, Davies often played as a Right Winger, similar to how Arjen Robben was.
However, he was deployed as a Left Winger in most cases.
Bayern Munich originally signed Davies as a Left-Winger but he transitioned easily to left-back.
Davies, who recently had a minor heart issue, often played as a Left Winger for his country Canada.
If Davies keep playing exceptionally well, he could be one of the best Left-backs in football history.
9. John O’Shea
Positions: Right-back, Left-back, Central Midfield, Defensive Midfield, Right Midfield, and Left Midfield.
Sir Alex Fergurson often played O’Shea as a defender or a Midfielder.
Notably, in Manchester United’s infamous win over Arsenal in Round 6 of the 2010-11 FA cup, SAF played O’Shea in Midfield with 6 other defenders in the starting XI.
10. Ashley Young
Positions: Right-back, Left-back, Right Wingback, Left WIngback, Right Midfield, and Left Midfield.
In his early days at Aston Villa, Ashley Young often played as a Right or Left Winger. In fact, when SAF signed him for Manchester United, Young continued to play as a winger.
The turnaround came for Young under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship at Manchester United. In his much-maligned 3-5-2 formation, Mou often deployed Young as Left or Right Wing Back and sometimes as Left or Right Back.
Antonio Conte also signed Young for Inter Milan and he played in these same positions. In fact, long story short, Young now plays as a defender.
11. Philip Lahm
Positions: Right-back, Left-back, and Defensive Midfield.
In 2017, while in charge of Bayern Munich, Guardiola lavished praise on Philip Lahm. Guardiola said of Lahm:
“He [Lahm] is… one of the most intelligent.
“He can play in 10 positions, no problems because he understands the game perfectly.”
In Guardiola’s final season at Bayern Munich, Lahm often played as a Defensive Midfielder in an attacking 4-3-3 formation. Rafinha then played in Lahm’s original position at Right-back.
Sometimes, Lahm played as Left-back too before he retired from football. Incredibly, Lahm never got red in his career.
Interestingly, Lahm – a versatile player, is one of the best Right backs ever in Football.
12. Juan Cuadrado
Positions: Right-back, Left and Right Wingback, Right Midfield, and Right-Wing Forward.
Columbia international – Cuadrado was a revelation in the 2013-14 season in Serie A and at the 2014 World Cup.
At Fiorentina, Cuadrado played as a Right Wingback and Winger.
Even at Juventus, Cuadrado started out as an attacking winger before being permanently deployed as a Right-back.
13. Javier Mascherano
Positions: Defensive Midfield and Center Back.
At Corinthians, before moving to West Ham, Mascherano played as a Defensive Midfielder.
Even at Liverpool, Mascherano mainly played as a Defensive Midfielder. However, ever since he moved to Barcelona, Mascherano never really played in his favorite Defensive Midfield position.
The Diminutive Argentine could not displace La Masia graduate – Sergio Busquests in the holding midfield position. Hence, his repositioning to Center-back.
However, Mascherano often played as a Defensive Midfielder for the Argentine national team.
14. Darren Fletcher
Positions: Center Midfield, Defensive Midfield, and Right Midfield.
Fletcher was one of SAF’s favorite boys’ whom he tinkered all around during his Manchester United days because he was a versatile player.
The former Scottish captain was a natural Center Midfielder but SAF often deployed him as a Defensive Midfielder. Sometimes, he played as a Right Midfielder.
15. Wayne Rooney
Positions: Center Forward, Striker, Second Striker, Right Midfield, Center Midfield, and Right-Wing Forward.
Rooney is one of the most versatile football players. He can comfortably play as a Center Forward, Wide, or in midfield.
However, Rooney is a natural Center forward.
Positions: Center Back, Right Back, and Left Back.
Real Madrid’s Nacho Fernandez is another versatile football player. He’s probably the most versatile Real Madrid player during his time so far at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Although he is a natural Center back, Nacho can play comfortably in any posittion in a back 4 defense.
He doesn’t get to start too many matches but he has been a very reliable asset for Real Madrid for over 10 years.
Positions: Center Back, Right Back, Left Back, Right Wingback, and Left Wingback.
No doubt, Ceasar Azpilicueta is one of the most versatile football players.
During his time at Chelsea under so many coaches, Azpilicueta excelled in every single position in defense including Right and Left Wingback.
Almost no Chelsea player has been moved around different positions as much as Azpilicueta.
Some sections of football fans say Azpilicueta is even underrated at Chelsea. Whatever the case, the point is clear: he is very versatile.
No wonder Azpi is one of the best Chelsea players ever.
18. Emre Can
Positions: Center Back, Right Back, Right Wingback, Center Midfield and Defensive Midfield.
Since his days at Borussia Dortmund, Emre Can has been a versatile player.
Even during his time at Liverpool, Can played Center Back, Right back, and Defensive Midfield.
However, his most natural position is Defensive Midfield.
19. Joshua Kimmich
Positions: Right Back, Center Midfield and Defensive Midfield.
Kimmich, who is a Bayern Munich academy product, is one of the most versatile football players.
The Bayern Munich man comfortably played in Right back and Defensive Midfield positions for the club.
Although he is a natural midfielder, one can hardly fault him when he plays in defence.
20. Sergi Roberto
Positions: Right Back, Center Midfield and Defensive Midfield.
At the beginning of his career, he started as a midfielder, however, over time, Sergi Roberto played comfortably in Right Back position for Barcelona.
Roberto has featured in these two positions for Barcelona under many coaches and this further reinforces the versatility of the Barca academy product.
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