The Football Notebook
Enganche, Segundo Volante, Carrilero - Explained
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
English Translation: Hook
Examples: David Silva, Juan Roman Riquelme, Diego Maradona
Most Popular Formation: 4-3-1-2
Diego Maradona may have been the greatest export from Argentina to perform the role, but the Enganche was truly popularised by another Argentinian: Juan Roman Riquelme.
In essence, the Enganche is a stationary No. 10. They are a luxury player, one not saddled by defensive duties but rather just given the job to sit in the ‘hole’ and make decisive passes, dribbles, or shots that change the outcome of a game in a single instant.
However, due to the ever-increasing popularity of high-pressing systems that rely on team structures where everyone must work hard to maintain shape, Enganches are dying out. No longer do you see a No. 10 simply allowed to attack whenever they want and never defend.
But in their heyday Enganches were the most important players of any given team, playing balls to their teammates in behind with exquisite technique, creating space out of nothing with a moment of pure genius, and generally being a pain to the opposition. Riquelme was the archetypal Enganche: strong like a bull, adept at shielding the ball, an excellent dribbler, a proficient passer, and never venturing too far from the hole(the central space between opposition defensive and midfield lines).
Whereas a Trequartista would roam between lines, constantly looking for space, and were incredibly difficult for opponents to mark, the Enganche simply sat there waiting for the ball to come to him. The upside to this was that when it was time to expend their energy, they could go all-in as they spent most of each game conserving it.
But we will perhaps never see a pure Enganche ever again; almost every side in Europe is a true team. They work together, sacrifice for each other, and hold one another in equal regard. The Enganche is from a different era, where teams were built around a single player who was hoisted above the rest, standing on his teammates’ shoulders to claim glory.
In closing, the Enganche is a forgotten breed of player from a different era of the Beautiful Game. They were instrumental in the creation of goalscoring opportunities, and often matchwinners for their teams. Maradona and Riquelme many-a-time got the crowd on their feet with a sensational skill or pass, but a lack of defensive work ethic and ability has meant that their type has become almost extinct in the modern footballing landscape.
English Translation: Second Steering Wheel
Examples: Carlos Volante, Emre Can, Sandro Tonali
Most Popular Formation: 4-2-3-1
Although the English translation of the role seems to suit what a Segundo Volante does on the pitch, it was actually named after a player from the 1920s and 1930s, one Carlos Volante. A Segundo Volante is an all-action midfielder that plays in a double pivot, usually paired with an Anchor Man(a defensive-minded midfielder whose job is to shield the defence and stop opposition attacks).
Segundo Volante’s are the kind of players who do a bit of everything; press, shield the back four, launch counter-attacks, get into the box for crosses, take on a man, link play from defence to attack and so on. This means that although they are nominally positioned and named as ‘defensive’ midfielders, they have the licence to roam wherever they desire.
One modern example of such is Sandro Tonali. Although many call him the second coming of Andrea Pirlo - who perfected the Regista role - Tonali is physically dominant and adept at scoring goals, two characteristics his predecessor somewhat lacked. This means that the AC Milan youngster can play further up the pitch and have more responsibilities. His unique skill set means that he has been performing the role of Segundo Volante for quite a while now, dating back to his early Brescia days.
As a summary, the Segundo Volante is a player that needs to be powerful, have great stamina, and must be a multi-faceted midfielder that is capable of anything he is called upon to do. Due to the nature of the role requiring such a wide range of skills, these kinds of players are rare, and you can usually only find an elite-level Segundo Volante once every few years in the footballing world.
English Translation: Shuttler
Examples: Fabinho, Allan, Kante
Most Popular Formation: 4-1-2-1-2
The Carrilero is a relatively unknown footballing role. Originating in Spain, it is essentially a parallel of the box-to-box role - but it is not quite the opposite. Whilst a box-to-box player moves up and down the pitch from their box to the oppositions whilst not usually moving much horizontally, a Carrilero is a ‘shuttler’, going left and right for most of the match without venturing forward too much. It’s hard to find a modern player that stays pure to this role, but there are a few that incorporate a lot of the aspects found in a true Carrilero.
These players are essentially defensive Mezzala’s - nominal central players that drift wide. Whereas the Mezzala drives forward, the Carrilero stays back, covering the flanks when their more attacking-minded teammates push forward. This is especially true for fullbacks - take Liverpool as an example. The duo of Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are infamous for their marauding runs forward - but as such can be left exposed on the wings. Nonetheless, Klopp has employed Fabinho to engage in the task of covering the wings should one of his fullbacks go forward. This provides defensive stability but still allows his team to overload their opponents.
When their team has possession of the ball, the Carrilero will again perform a horizontal version of a box-to-box role. Instead of directly linking defence to attack, they switch the ball from side to side, getting the team out of pressure and opening up gaps for their more creative peers to exploit. The role has become a staple of many sides in Europe, with Partey for Arsenal, Kante for Chelsea, the aforementioned Fabinho for Liverpool, Allan for Everton, and Arturo Vidal for Inter Milan all performing the tasks of a shuttler.
In conclusion, the Carrilero is the modern destroyer, a crab-like player that shifts from side to side whilst rarely moving up or down the pitch. They help their team recycle the ball, switch play from either flank and cover for their wide teammates that push forward. A Carrilero must be extremely energetic and positionally astute, covering any gaps that appear in their vicinity, and have now become the base for many elite sides to build their teams around.