AC Milan’s Recruitment Analyst: “A player who plays 3 in a small one would move more easily to a big player who plays 4”


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Tiago Estêvão, Scouting / Recruitment Analyst of AC Milan, spoke in the podcast “A podcast about tactics” (HERE the full INTERVIEW) and there was also an expectation on the passage of a player from defense to 3 to 4: “My point of view is that this is a very important factor, we talked a lot about the context and how much the central defenders are much more influenced by the context than other roles. For a defender, defending on 3 or defending on 4 is completely different. That said, in my career I have never yet worked for a team that consistently uses a 3-man defense. So when I approach this topic, I almost always look at it from the side of converting a 3-player to a 4-player defender, never vice versa I also believe that the conversion from 4 to 3 is much easier because for a defender there is much more freedom, etc. I believe that the context of the 3-man defense is much underestimated.
In particular, I think that a player on a team who plays 3 on a small team would move more easily to a dominant team who plays 4. Obviously you have to look on a case-by-case basis because every player is different, but in general these are the my guidelines:
– The arms of a small / non-dominant team tend to move reasonably well, or in any case as far as I’m concerned they have more chances to move reasonably well, to play the center of a 4-man defense in a dominant team, because the arms of a team small defend the space in a similar way (they must defend large and open spaces) to that of the central 4 of a dominant team. Therefore they are more suitable to be transferred to 4-man defense contexts of large teams.
– Same thing goes for a full flank of a small team. I think playing a role like that on a small team is similar to playing a full-back on a dominant team. So I think the transition can be smooth.
– If they are a dominant team playing 4, getting a defender from a dominant team playing 3 is much more difficult. This is because the full-flank laterals in the dominant teams tend to be wings, who are unlikely to be exposed / accustomed to some defensive actions, so they will have difficulty if put into the full-backs in my 4-man defense. And as for the arms of the dominant teams, these have literally become a new role in the last 2-3 years, which is kind of a hybrid between a central and a full-back, a role that is perfect for certain types of players who would have no possible role in a classic 4-man defense. A player like that could move to teams that use asymmetrical 4-man defense with a blocked full-back but in general the arms of those teams have a lot of trouble in the 4-man defenses of the top teams.
– The central of the 3 in a dominant team is probably the one with the highest probability of adapting to being the central of a dominant 4-man defense. Then here we would have to open a discussion on what kind of central 3 we are talking about, usually the central of the 3 is the one that stays behind the longest, but recently more and more teams are using it “on the contrary”, that is they make him the most pro-active of the 3 behind, they don’t let him defend large spaces but he is the most pro-active in keeping the line high, both with and without the ball. In general, I repeat, I think that this type of transfer (from central 3 to defense to 4) can go well.

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