There’s a nice little tidbit of information running around the Internet today regarding the fact that Andres Iniesta hasn’t scored a goal or set up someone for one for 364 days in the Spanish La Liga. But is the Barcelona midfielder simply playing in a position that doesn’t allow him to contribute in that way?
Iniesta, for most of his career, has been an attacking midfielder. These terms are fluid in Barcelona and its system. Iniesta has played in wider roles, behind the false striker or in tandem with Xavi in the midfield.
But this season is different. Iniesta has missed quite a few games as well, appearing in just 17 so far this season. Sure, there is the ability problem. Iniesta, despite his skills and prowess and renown has never been a goal or stat machine. Yes, he has scored two of the most famous goals in recent years; one for Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League semi final against Chelsea, and another to win the World Cup for Spain in 2010. But with 53 career goals in 533 matches for Barcelona, it’s clear that scoring isn’t his thing.
This season it’s even more “severe”. Xavi is no longer a lineup player, and Lionel Messi is dropping further and further back to make room for Neymar and Luis Suarez at the top. While it’s not stopping Messi from scoring because, well, he is who he is, Iniesta is playing further away from where the “action” is. According to whoscored, his averaging rating this season in La Liga matches is 6.99, his lowest since they’ve begun tracking players in 2009.
Is Iniesta still a world class midfielder? On a good day, sure. He has vision and ball control that’s still the envy of most. But he’s playing more and more as a holding midfielder, giving Ivan Rakitic and even Sergio Busquets more opportunities to push forward. Considering that he has never been one to be involved in too many goals, it might not be such a loss for Barcelona, not to mention him being one of the few who seem like a logical choice to fill in for Xavi.