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Unsung Heroes: Deep Lying Playmaker

Learn how to use a Deep Lying Playmaker in your team, using real life examples of players.

In history, football has seen many heroes grace the pitch. From Pele to Maradona, mastering the arts of scoring goals. To Lev Yashin and Peter Schmeichel keeping them from hitting the back of the net. But in between these two extremities, between scoring goals and stopping them, what happens in the middle of the pitch?

We at Dictate the Game love this role, and they particularly love them in Spain and Italy too.

This is unsung heroes, and today we are looking at the Deep Lying Playmaker role.

History and Introduction

Although it is unclear when the Deep Lying Playmaker appeared in the beautiful game, it has been an extremely valued position in the modern game. Many big names have graced the pitch under the pretext of being Deep Lying Playmakers, such as Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets and Andrea Pirlo. Used religiously by Carlo Mazzone and Carlo Ancelotti in Italy, the Deep Lying Playmaker role is now being reproduced everywhere in the world, but most importantly in England and Spain.

Drawing Attention

Similarly to many midfielders, upon getting the ball in midfield the Deep Lying Playmaker uses his creative freedom to pinpoint the best possible passes available to him. Sitting so deep in midfield, he draws attention of any nearby opposition players. Doing this allows them to close him down until the crucial moment of a pass appears, at which point more offensive players on his team can either wriggle free from their opponents grasp or run into any potential channels. The tactical necessities for using a Deep Lying Playmaker are rather negotiable too, but the main thing to be looking at is a strong defensive line and good attacking players to latch onto any passes. Whether they be midfielders or strikers.

Despite being deep down the pitch, a good way to describe a Deep Lying Playmaker would be as the deepest creative player and not as a defensive midfielder. Although some players do boast the attributes to play a bit more defensively when need be, the core of a Deep Lying Playmaker lies in his passing.

Deep Lying Playmaker
Deep Lying Playmaker

Generally operating in the zone just above the defence, some players can make that space their own with attributes allowing them to close down the opposing players on the ball or make interceptions. But with modern footballing roles being as complicated as ever, managers generally let their Defenders deal with any players coming forwards, getting the ball to the player just ahead of them who then lays off an attacking pass.

Midfield Maestro

Sergio Busquets

Usually used around other midfielders, in a 4-3-3 or in a midfield pivot, the Deep Lying Playmaker is a role that a club can generally create their team around. A good example of this is the use of Sergio Busquets for Barcelona. When Sergio takes hold of the ball, his focus would be holding onto the ball before moving it on. This allows the midfielders ahead of him such as Xavi, Iniesta and now De Jong to move ahead and find space for that crucial pass. His focus on ball retention is what makes him a stadn-out player, as instead of playing quick balls up the pitch he relied on time and vision to play the perfect pass.

Deeper DLP

Although he could pick out the perfect pass and hold the ball long enough for players to move around him, Busquets plays even further back than a traditional Deep Lying Playmaker, making use of his abilities to cut out passes or even slot into the central defense when need be. Sergio is a brilliant player, firstly due to his excellent attributes, particularly his Mental ones. Secondly, his stats in the game are unrivaled. His 351 games for Barcelona serve as a reminder of how important he has been throughout the years.

Sergio Busquets Deep Lying Playmaker
Sergio Busquets Deep Lying Playmaker

Use in Game

Tanguy Ndombele

On the other hand, a Deep Lying Playmaker is a role that almost every big club uses to their advantage in the modern game, but we’re not going to go over every one of them. Instead, we’re going to look at one other player, who revolutionised the role in France: Tanguy Ndombele.

What is so interesting about Tanguy Ndombele, is that he’s not a ‘traditional’ Deep Lying Playmaker. Contrary to the role suitability in game. Yes, he has amazing attributes that definitely show how good he is, and has the stats to back him up. But what truly sets Tanguy Ndombele apart from the rest is the fact that he didn’t always play as a Deep Lying Playmaker. Usually part of a midfield pivot, Tanguy Ndombele used his skill in dribbling and technique to not only play important passes, but also to move the ball up the pitch himself. Scoring isn’t something he has ever been particularly good at, but his strength and dribbling make him an absolute menace whenever he moves forward, often even going out on the wing to get a cross in himself.

Creative DLP

He is an example of a more creatively free Deep Lying Playmaker, who needs the freedom to play his own game to show what he is truly capable of. Currently playing for Tottenham in my game, he is part of a midfield pivot alongside Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso, and his workrate and strength allow him to dwell on the ball whilst looking for that all important pass, as his midfield partner runs forward alongside the wingers and strikers. Due to his incredible attributes, he can be utilized as part of any midfield system, and his versatility in roles is absolutely crucial, allowing him to attack, defend an transition the ball in all areas of the game. No wonder Tottenham shelled out over 60 million for him!

Tanguy Ndombele Deep Lying Playmaker
Tanguy Ndombele Deep Lying Playmaker


In conclusion, a Deep Lying Playmaker is an ever popular role in the modern game. Utilizing one in his tradition role is something that can turn an average team into a very good team. Allowing a quick transition of play with defence splitting passes, whilst using his more defensive attributes to hold up the ball and wait for any opportunities to present themselves. Young Deep Lying Playmakers can be found all over the world. I wouldn’t be surprised that more young talent will break into their respective first teams in the years to come. And I’m so excited to see them flourish!

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Written by Toby Lacey


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