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Busi-est man in the middle

As a team, Barcelona demand excellent touch and passing as fast as it is precise.

sports Updated: Jun 06, 2012 02:01 IST

As a team, Barcelona demand excellent touch and passing as fast as it is precise. So many players who reach their dressing room are dumbstruck within five minutes of their first training session, flummoxed because in the rondo (the piggy-in-the-middle training exercise) they realise that their feet are not as skilful as they had thought.

This is the point where Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and company have a little fun and turn the heat up on the new boy, as if to make clear that reputations and egos do not count. A man of few words who was battling on the fields of the third division, Sergio Busquets, aged 23, accepted the challenge of playing his first rondo with Messi.

He distributed the ball at the frenzied pace imposed by his team-mates and by the end of the exercise, the No 10 went to the coach, Pep Guardiola, and whispered: "Mister, I want this one in with me in the rondo." The best possible compliment. No one has doubted 'Busi' since.

Simple & effective
Busquets was born and raised in Ciutat Badia, a development on the outskirts of Barcelona with a high percentage of social housing, a working-class area little given to luxury and prone to racial conflicts.

A footballer from the cradle who once aspired to join Real Madrid, he always used to go to games with his grandfather Juan because his father, Carles, played as a goalkeeper for Barça at the time — but infrequently as he was in the shadow of Andoni Zubizarreta.

Busi inherited his feet "and much more," says Tito Vilanova, the new Barca coach. Guardiola thought the same when he coached Sergio in Barca's second team, when he decided to transform him from a centre-forward to the pivot, saying: "If you get fouled, it's your fault. Play faster!"

It was a decision that gave Busquets wings and allowed him to reach the first team the following year, taking the place of Yaya Touré. His call-up to the national team seemed natural.

Del Bosque, coaches and team-mates appreciate his work more than anyone. "I've never seen a player with so many tactical options during the game, who's got so much quality as well as physical presence — it's incredible," adds Xavi.

Busquets says: "My only obsession is not to lose the ball and to give my all, make sure I leave it all on the pitch. I am here to help. I have to be intense."

First Published: Jun 05, 2012 23:06 IST