Duties of the Roaming Midfielder

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

A reader asked if I could write on the position of the roaming center midfielder.  The roaming center midfielder position typically not a position that a person can say they play each and every game.  It is a position that is only used in certain formations and to be played against certain teams.  The player that plays this position is often a very skilled and offensive minded player.

There are various formations used with a roaming midfielder, however, it is normally used where there are five midfielders or in a 3-5-2 formation.  This way there are two wingers and three players in the center.  The two center man occupy the middle, win 50/50 battles and do much of the ‘dirty’ work meanwhile the third center midfielder (or roamer) roams nearby looking to receive the ball.  This does not mean you do nothing and just wait, however, quite the contrary.  You are to be involved in every play.  Your teammates should be looking to you to be the link into the offensive attack.

Role as a roaming midfielder:

  • receive the ball from your defensive midfielder and midfielder, turn and move the ball forward
  • produce offensive runs into the opposing teams own third of the field
  • produce many ground through-balls for your wingers and or strikers.  Note: Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona will complete on average 40 ground passes per half.
  • shoot the ball on net from outside the 18 yard box.  Always be that offensive threat so when the opportunity occurs you’ll be ready
  • despite having the ball at your feet a lot, use no more than a few touches
  • be calm on the ball.  There is no need to rush any play.  These players typically need to have quick feet or quick body movements in order to create offensively and create space between them and the defender.
  • they need to have good dribbling abilities while keeping their head up to see the plays developing around them
  • have great vision in order to produce a pass when nobody else is expecting it
  • the roaming midfielder not only roams when he does not have the ball but when he does have the ball he is also constantly moving.  Remember that a player that is constantly moving with or without the ball is a lot more difficult to mark.

The whole idea of the roaming midfielder is that he does not have a defensive responsibility.  This does not mean they do not come back and defend, however, they are the go-to player that the defense and midfield should be looking for them to produce the offensive opportunities and spark that is required in attack.  They are not to use up energy running around the field covering a man.

Professional players that will often play the roaming midfielder position include Xavi Hernandez of FB Barcelona, Wesley Sneijder of Inter Milan and retired world footballer of the year Zinedine Zidane.  Watch some of the highlights below.  Notice how when they are dribbling at high speeds their heads are up and they are always looking around the field to where they will make their next move or pass.  They also don’t have to think when they are double teamed.  Their skill level is so high that the moves occur naturally when under pressure.

My favourite…Zinedine.  Notice how wide his stance is when he has the ball and is shielding.  This is a great way to create space between him and his opponents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *