Defending might be an art but defenders are not always considered artists. Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini might be legends but they never managed to get their hands on the Ballon d'Or or the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and the fact that Maicon Douglas Sisenando could make it to the top 10 of the Goal.com 50 is an achievement in itself.
Not that anyone can take it from him. Daniel Alves might stake claim in being the best right-back in the world at the moment, which he might well be, but there is no doubt that Maicon is more balanced and perhaps more powerful, although not as graceful as his Brazilian compatriot. Last year's campaign was Maicon's best season to-date as he led both his club and country to fame and glory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have been the top scorer in the league last season and was Serie A's and Inter's player of the season, but take Maicon out of the Nerazzurri set-up and the Italian champions would become half the team they are. While 'Ibracadabra' was the striker-cum-playmaker who deceived defenders with his class and deftness, Maicon was the force from the back, who bulldozed through the opposition with his direct, incisive approach.
In the first half of the season Maicon was the best defender in the Italian top flight, a claim attested by his unparalleled performance against Chievo in December when the 28-year-old was involved in three of the four Inter goals. Although his performance dipped slightly in the second half mainly because of injuries, the Brazilian international full-back remained a force along the right flank for Inter. So much so that Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini remarked, “Inter are a great side, but without phenomenons like Ibra and Maicon they would really, really struggle.”
Maicon ended the Serie A season with four goals and five assists in 27 starts but statistics tell only half the story. All those who followed Inter and Maicon closely in the 2008-09 campaign must have marveled at his link-up plays and tireless running up and down the flank. Besides 'Ibra' there was precious little talent upfront for Jose Mourinho's side, which perhaps didn't allow Maicon to create as much as he could have.
Full Focused | Maicon keeps his eyes on the prize
But playing for Brazil, Maicon could create as much as he wanted to and did so too at the Confederations Cup in South Africa in the summer. Ahead of Dani Alves in the pecking order for the Brazilian national side, Maicon was the best right-back in the competition.
Daniel Alves stepped in for Maicon in the opener against Egypt but after that it was Maicon who got the nod ahead of the Barcelona right-back. Maicon was marvellous against the USA in both matches and was arguably the best player on the pitch against Italy.
As Maicon ended the 2008-09 season on a high, establishing himself as arguably the best right-back in the world, winning the scudetto and the Confederations Cup, uncertainty abut his future at Inter began to manifest itself. Maicon was quoted as saying that he isn't appreciated enough at Inter and his agent remains open to a move to Spanish powerhouse and this summer’s free-spenders Real Madrid. Things might have cooled down a little but with Florentino Perez's power to convince and Madrid's construction of a neo-Galactico team, one can never tell.
But one thing's for sure: Maicon's departure from Inter would make the Nerazzurri a less frightening side.
Supercoppa Italiana 2008
Serie A 2009
FIFA Confederations Cup 2009
Subhankar Mondal, Goal.com