The number 10 in soccer is one of the most exciting and creative positions. With coaches traditionally giving more freedom to their number 10 players, aspiring soccer players that want to get out and play and have the freedom to make their own decisions will thrive in this vitally important position.
In this post, we will explain what position the number 10 in soccer plays, the player qualities needed to excel, and how to play as a number 10 when your team is in and out of possession. We’ll also talk about some of the best number 10 players from around the world.
What Position Is The Number 10 In Soccer?
The number 10 position in soccer is an attacking midfielder. It is the most offensive central midfielder on a team. Number 10 players play in front of the other central midfielders, just behind the forward line. The number 10 role is also referred to as an attacking central midfielder or ACM.
In most cases, teams will play with just one number 10. Sometimes, however, there may be two number 10 positions on a team, such as Ralph Rangnicks 4-2-2-2 formation. Number 10 players try to find pockets of space to receive and create ‘in between the lines’ of their opponents (a phrase used to describe the areas between their defensive & midfield units).
Although classed as central midfielders, number 10 players are given the freedom to roam around the field. They can often pop up in wide areas to combine with their teammates to create chances for themselves and other players.
How To Play As A Number 10 In Soccer
Qualities Needed To Be A Good Number 10
The number 10 position in soccer is often occupied by the most creative player in the team and has the most responsibility for breaking through against stubborn and compact opponents. As such, the person playing this position must have the following qualities:
- Have good imagination and flair, along with excellent vision and awareness.
- They must be extremely comfortable on the ball and be positive and proactive in their movement as they look to create space for themselves, receive the ball and make things happen.
- Be able to pass and receive with both feet.
- Be brave and confident in making difficult and inventive passes to create chances for their teammates.
- Have the tenacity to keep on trying even when their attempts to create are not quite coming off.
- Have excellent timing and be able to make late runs into their opponent’s penalty area.
- Be calm in front of goal and able to score as well as assist.
How To Play As A Number 10 When Attacking
The number 10 has an incredibly important role when their team is attacking and in possession of the ball, particularly in the final third of the field. Their primary responsibility is to create goal-scoring opportunities for both themself and their teammates. To do this successfully and consistently, a good number 10 should:
- Constantly scan the field, taking mental images of what is around them so they can make quick and positive decisions upon receiving the ball. Coaches will often use the term ‘having your head on a swivel’ to indicate the necessity of continually looking around the field in all directions.
- Try to find space and receive the ball between the opponent’s defensive line of players and their midfield line.
- Be able to play passes quickly, sometimes with only one or two touches, to impede the ability of the opponent’s defense to react and organize.
- Look for opportunities to shoot from a distance in and around the edge of the penalty box.
- Look to support other attacking players quickly when they receive the ball, particularly when they are under pressure.
- Make ‘third man runs’ behind the striker and the opponent’s defense to get on the end of through balls from other players.
How To Play The Number 10 When Defending
Although the number 10 is primarily an attacking position, they still have an essential role when the team is defending or not in possession of the ball. When defending as a number 10, the player’s primary responsibility is to stop their opponents from getting the ball out from the back, although they may have to defend deeper in their own half, too. To successfully defend as a number 10 player, a player should:
- Support the other players when they press the ball by acting as a second or third defender and helping the team remain compact.
- When the team is not pressing the ball, cut off passing lanes and spaces so the defense cannot make an easy pass forward (see image).
- Put high pressure on the opponent’s number 6 and limit their opportunities on the ball.
- Be prepared to drop back and provide additional defensive support, particularly when the team is getting outnumbered in the middle of the park.
Famous Number 10 Soccer Players
Bruno Fernandes is a classic number 10 that currently plays for Manchester United and the Portuguese National Team. An instant hit with the Utd fans upon his arrival in January 2020, Bruno is known for his high work rate, play-making ability, and goal-scoring exploits.
Before joining Manchester United, Fernandes played for Sporting Lisbon. In scoring 33 goals in the 2018-2019 campaign, Fernandes set the record for the most goals scored by a Portuguese midfielder in a single season.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is widely regarded as one of the best number 10 players currently playing the game. He is a star for the Belgian national team and the 2020/2021 EPL Champions, Manchester City.
De Bruyne shot to fame following an incredible 2014/15 season at Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg FC. He recorded 16 goals and 21 assists this season and was awarded the Bundesliga footballer of the year award. Following his move to Manchester City in 2015, he continued to rack up goals and assists, playing as a number 10 in a team that continues to win trophies and dominates the English game.
Zinadane Zidane, popularly known as Zizou, is perhaps one of the best number 10 players of all time. He is known for elegance, vision, and ball control, as well as his sublime passing ability. Zidane has had an incredibly successful and trophy-laden career in France, Italy, and Spain.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this guide to the number 10 position in soccer useful. Before you go, check out these related articles about positions and numbers in soccer: