Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.
One of the main cogs of Juventus’ amazing midfield machine this season is Arturo Vidal. The Chilean artist has helped lead the Italian club to the Serie A title and will now travel to Berlin on June 6th in an effort add a Champions League winners’ medal to his already crowded trophy cabinet.
Before making the move to European competition, Vidal was plying his trade in the famous Colo Colo academy. Aged just 19, the midfielder’s professional debut came at the end of the 2005/06 in the final of the Apertura Tournament that Colo eventually won. This cameo in the tournament paved the way for Vidal to play a much more prominent role in the following season.
In his first full year with the senior side, the young midfielder was named in the starting lineup an amazing 59 times. Despite a seemingly bleak season on the score sheet, scoring five goals and assisting twice, Vidal was a vital player for the squad. The introduction into the starting lineup was all the future Chilean-international needed to spark his promising career. During his two-and-a-half year stay with Colo Colo, Vidal collected three straight league titles and positioned himself for a move abroad.
Moving to Europe
After an impressive showing in the U-20 World Cup for Chile, a European suitor finally pulled the trigger on bringing Vidal across the pond. Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen signed the player in 2007 and almost immediately placed him in the starting lineup. His debut season in Germany came with plenty of game time as he played in 24 Bundesliga matches, 17 as a starter, and managed another 14 appearances in the team’s European travels. Vidal’s first Leverkusen goal came just five appearances in against Hannover. At the end of the season, the Chilean had managed just the one goal and only two assists as the team slumped to a seventh place league finish.
The 2008/09 season again saw Vidal establish himself in the starting lineup. The Chilean started 27 games for the club despite missing a month through a concussion. The midfielder was dispensed in several positions throughout the season including center back and right back but most often in the center of the park. His versatility helped Bayer to a surprise run to the German Cup final where they eventually finished as a runner-up to Wolfsburg. Statistically, 2008/09 was Vidal’s most prolific season as he put away five goals in all competitions and six assists.
In his final two years with the club, Vidal would score 13 more goals, with 12 of those coming in his final year. 2010/11 was by far the midfielder’s best professional season as he led the club in both goals and assists (13). This amazing season helped push Bayer to a second place finish in the Bundesliga, the club’s best finish in almost ten years. His performance was also recognized by league officials as they placed him in the team of the season where he was one of just two non-Bayern/Dortmund players named.
For a reported fee of €10.5 million, Vidal left the Bundesliga for brighter pastures in the summer of 2011. After a lot of speculation over where the midfielder would end up, Juventus finally pulled the trigger and brought the Leverkusen midfielder to Turin. His start to life in Serie A couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as he scored just minutes into his debut against Parma. Despite it being his first year with the club, Vidal completed the team’s three-man midfield alongside Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo. Vidal’s relentless defensive efforts and attacking spark (seven goals and four assists) helped the club claim the league title and go undefeated in his first season wearing the famous black and white kit.
Vidal started his sophomore season in Italy with a prolific run of form. In the first four games with the club, the midfielder scored three goals. At the end of the season, the 25-year-old managed to score 15 goals in all competitions leading the team in the category. Vidal also played provider throughout the season as he led the team with 11 assists throughout the year. A second year in Italy saw the Chilean claim his second Serie A title and also his first Supercoppa Italiana (played between the league champions and domestic cup holders).
In the last two seasons, Vidal has continually shown the tenacity and vision that has made him one of the most beloved players at the club. Currently, Vidal has managed to win an astonishing six trophies with the Italian club, and has never not won the Serie A title in his four years playing in the league. Since 2013, the Chilean has scored 27 goals in all competitions, and has assisted on nine more. A Champions League triumph over Barcelona next month would be the player’s first time ever lifting that famous trophy, and if Juve do manage to beat their Catalan opponents you can be sure that Vidal will have played a key role in the victory.
The Juventus midfielder made his senior international debut for Chile in 2007 during a match against Venezuela. After leading the nation’s U-20 side at that year’s youth World Cup in Canada, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before the midfielder would find himself playing at the highest level. Vidal found himself in South Africa with the Chilean squad for the 2010 World Cup and started all four of the team’s matches.
During the 2014 World Cup in Rio, Vidal was again occupying the center of the park for a dark horse Chilean squad. Vidal and company nearly orchestrated an amazing upset over Brazil in the Round of 16 but fell in penalties to the host nation. Since his debut in 2007, the midfielder has registered 63 CAPS for his nation and scored nine times.
Style of Play
You don’t get the nickname of Il Guerriero (the warrior) without being fearless. Arturo Vidal isn’t the flashiest player on the field but his passion and energy make him a constant force on the pitch and have made him arguably the best defensive midfielder in the game. In addition to his ability to strike shots from distance, perhaps the best part of his game is his defensive effort. If the Chilean ever turns the ball over, you can be sure that he will be one of the hardest working players on the field trying to get it back. His pinpoint tackling abilities and fearless approach on both sides of the ball make Vidal one of the hottest players in Europe at the moment.