Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal (c.) was at his tenacious best against Augsburg on Matchday 12. - © © gettyimages / Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images
Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal (c.) was at his tenacious best against Augsburg on Matchday 12. - © © gettyimages / Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal: The most complete midfielder in the world


The title makes a bold claim, admittedly, and right now you're probably making a mental list of other potential candidates worthy of that label. But hear us out before you cast final judgement – the case for Arturo Vidal as the world's finest midfielder is a compelling one.

Put to one side for a moment his impressive array of tattoos and ever-changing haircuts of varying degrees of spikiness; do not be fooled into thinking that the hard-man exterior only houses a midfield warrior.

For that is perhaps the most well-known of the 30-year-old's qualities, the most easily recognisable. From his position in the middle of the pitch, Vidal regularly breaks down opposition attacks and wins back possession, unafraid of the physical battle.

In 2016/17, as in the previous season, Vidal committed more fouls (46) and picked up more yellow cards (eight) than any other Bayern Munich player.

Yet the Chile international is also heavily involved going forward, his high-energy style allowing him to pose a threat in the opposition penalty area too. Last season he averaged 107 touches per game, misplacing just 12 per cent of his passes as a link between defence and attack.

And while Robert Lewandowski (43 goals) and Arjen Robben (16) were Bayern's top scorers, guess who came third? That's right: Vidal. He hit the net nine times, and was the only Bayern player to score in all four competitions in 2016/17 (Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, DFB Cup and Supercup).

Still not convinced? Add into the equation that when Vidal scores, his goals are invariably important ones. Ten of his 18 strikes in competitive games for Bayern have put his side 1-0 up, with five of his seven goals and assists in 2016/17 and one of his two Bundesliga netbusters in 2017/18 doing precisely that.

Watch: Vidal on Bayern's surging form under Jupp Heynckes

As Vidal himself said back in 2014: "Many try to imitate my style, but I want to say one thing: I'm the best defensive midfielder in the world. No one defends as well as me and scores so many goals."

Former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was equally effusive in his praise for the Bayern No.23, once saying: "He's a very, very important player. He's got great character and great experience."

Despite boasting a squad bursting with central midfield talent, such as Thiago, Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso, Vidal has made 10 starts in all competitions so far this season, and played a starring role in Bayern's most recent Bundesliga outing at home to Augsburg on Matchday 12.

Indeed, that game - a 3-0 triumph - was a microcosm of everything Vidal excels at. He won the second highest of tackles (15) of any player on the pitch, opened the scoring with an emphatic close-range finish - his 25th goal in 183 Bundesliga outings - and also provided the assist for Robert Lewandowski to make it 2-0 in the 38th minute.

Furthermore, Vidal has a winner's mentality, always eager for more success. It is no coincidence that he earned a sixth consecutive domestic league title 2017, after winning four Serie A crowns with Juventus followed by two in the Bundesliga with Bayern.

The Santiago native is similarly a man for the big occasion at international level. Vidal made his Chile debut in April 2007 and has since become the leader - not to mention the brains - at the heart of their midfield. In 2015 he became a national hero when Chile won the Copa America on home soil, chipping in with three goals and scoring his penalty in the shoot-out win over Argentina in the final.

La Roja successfully defended their Copa America title at the Centenario edition in 2016, once again by beating Argentina on penalties in the final, although this time Vidal's spot-kick was saved.

In the summer of 2017 he was one of the standout players of the Confederations Cup in Russia, scoring his penalty in the semi-final shoot-out win over Portugal before Chile were ultimately beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final.

Watch: Vidal's rise to superstardom from humble beginnings in Chile

Simply put, Vidal is the finished article, the ultimate midfielder. He can pass, tackle, run and score and has done so for years with outrageous success for club and country.

How many other midfielders can say that? If you're struggling to come up with some names do not be alarmed - Vidal's in a league of his own.

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