Aitana Bonmatí: The art and influence of the world champion midfielder

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmati holds her Woman Ballon d'Or
Barcelona's Aitana Bonmati holds her Woman Ballon d'Or. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

“There it is! Bonmatí striking into the zone with a powerful touch!” is one of the many statements made on Aitana Bonmatí’s footwork. Bursts of acclamation can be heard from commentators with her finishes. Signing off with an assist or a goal, this midfielder does not shy away from excellent performances.

The idea of Bonmatí is just as beautiful as her existence on the pitch. No matter how the wider football world decides to view the playmaker, nothing can oppose that she brings fruition to a game.

The renowned midfielder sits on a gold mine of accolades, and 2023 was the biggest jewel in her crown. Winning the treble with Barcelona was not enough for this powerhouse. She also lifted the World Cup with Spain, won the Ballon d’Or Féminin, and received the 2022/23 UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award.

So let’s talk about her performance, then.

A midfielder to marvel at

Bonmatí catches my eye due to her attacking talents that swiftly complement her ability to exploit as much space as possible. Her output, together with her chance creation and xA stats, are part of her expertise that barely measure half the volume of talent.

This mastermind performs on a deeper level with manipulative techniques that soothe the eye. Bonmatí operates between the lines and disguises herself from opposition by her ability to slow down the game before speeding it up while utilising all necessary space. Creating optimal capacity, she flawlessly executes Ricardo Bochini’s ‘La Pausa’ technique, aka The Pause. Although a credit that isn’t much so an argued requirement in her area, it is implemented perfectly. Seen with Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández and even Zinedine Zidane, one could say this midfield maestro is cut from the same cloth.

Bonmatí’s versatile nature of play appears often within her team. Mainly as a central midfielder, also interlacing through as an attacking midfielder, Bonmatí weaves through the pitch by covering as many areas as necessary. This creativity of expanding creates an air of adaptability. Capable of playing in other positions on the pitch, she dominates by commanding play.

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Constantly performing in style, she acts as the link between defence and attack, with full composure and strength, holding strong possession of the ball and succeeding swiftly. Serving as the glue, the Catalan contributes with stamina while reading the game exceptionally. This is constantly visible with every performance of hers. So much so, that people dispute whether she is the magician of the play. Excelling in passing accuracy and playmaking, the midfielder displays the talent of both defence and offence into successful combinations. 

The magician of the play

Bonmatí’s performance on the pitch is somewhat of a creative role, due to her flair that emits pure gift through skill, dedication and hard work. It only makes sense for her to live up to the standard as she holds the No.14 jersey. The number is a perfect representation of ‘the class player’ — following in the footsteps of other great historical 14s like Johan Cruyff and Thierry Henry. She has much to live up to — embodying an influential number in the club’s history.

But my study on Bonmatí isn’t just a quick analysis on her performance. From speed, to playing style and versatility, Bonmatí is one of the most valuable players in Europe, dominating rankings while succeeding in a powerhouse club. So much so that we must examine the influence of Barcelona’s manager Jonatan Giráldez. Producing players of top calibre requires a podium of success that is impossible to deny the stars generated under his leadership. 

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Solid substance does not take away her shine, with teammate Fridolina Rolfö adding to the praise last year: “She’s taken a huge responsibility in midfield, and she deserves all of the attention, in my opinion.”

This is especially obvious after the absence of fellow Barcelona and Spain teammate Alexia Putellas, which forced Bonmatí to play a more progressive role since July 2022. All the while, Barcelona pursued a different form of play with the addition of defensive midfielders.

Read: Aitana Bonmatí wins 2023 Ballon d’Or

It’s clear that I illustrate Bonmatí in a light of my own. The heart of the play and her intelligence makes her influence one of a kind. Achievements dictate any alternate voice that does not reason with her, and I conclude that this midfield musician definitely outshines the rest. Emerging as an essential player, the heartbeat and someone crucial to making the apparatus function, this Catalan midfielder definitely aids Barça’s success. 

Greek philosopher, Plato, once said: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

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Let’s link that to Aitana. Bonmatí in play demonstrates her ability to present her gifted talent. Experiencing her game only shows more than what words could ever describe. Through physicality, vision, intelligence and pace, she adapts to any challenges, forming into another shining by-product of La Masia. With her charming playing style, this upcoming legend forms a path for the developing women’s football world.

Aitana Bonmatí? Unmatched.

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