Often regarded as the engine of any functioning football side, midfielders play a pivotal role in dictating terms from the middle of the park. They not only help to set the tone, but also control the flow of the game through their all-round ability in a football field.
All successful teams of the past always had the proper mix of different kinds of midfielders – who could perform different roles, from a pivot to a playmaker, or a box-to-box midfielder. These are the players who can link between the attack and defence, often threading a through ball for the striker or taking a card for their side after breaking up play.
Just like in every Premier League season, the present campaign has also thrown up some magical performances from the midfielders. Although it is difficult to compare the exact level of impact they have made for their respective teams, here we have tried to rank the top three midfielders, based on their performance in this season’s Premier League.
Honourable mentions: Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United), James Maddison (Leicester City), Jorginho (Chelsea), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) and Todd Cantwell (Norwich City).
#3 Jack Grealish
The Aston Villa skipper has been in the form of his life in England’s top-flight this season. Despite the Villains’ struggles in the Premier League, Grealish has caught the eye of several European heavyweights with his splendid displays in the middle of the park.
The 24-year-old midfielder has the vision to pick out a killer pass, can score long-range screamers and can efficiently drive forward with the ball. The Englishman is quite simply the complete package. Moreover, his versatility in the middle of the park and ability to play anywhere in the midfield three has earned him praise from the football pundits.
In terms of stats, Grealish has been on the receiving end of most number of fouls (127) committed in Europe’s top five leagues. Besides, the midfielder has also managed to rack up an average of 2.7 key passes per 90 minutes with an 85% passing accuracy. The flexible midfielder has managed to score seven goals, along with providing six assists.
Even if Aston Villa fail to beat the drop this season, there will be no shortage of interest for their skipper. It will be fascinating to see whether Grealish continues playing for his beloved club, or make a move to England’s big-six for a bigger challenge in upcoming months.
#2 Jordan Henderson
No longer considered underrated, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is counted amongst the most influential midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues. The 29-old-year old Englishman has quietly stepped into the big boots of Liverpool club legend, Steven Gerrard, and has reinvented himself in the role of a midfield general.
With the plethora of midfielders at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal, it’s the Englishman who has been the most consistent throughout the whole season. Henderson has done everything that Klopp has asked of him. With Fabinho playing as a pivot in front of the two central defenders, Henderson has played both as a left and a right-sided midfielder. While in the absence of the Brazilian, Liverpool captain has also mastered the role of a deep-lying midfielder.
To put his season in numbers, Henderson has managed to find the back of the net on three occasions, alongside providing five assists to his teammates. Moreover, the England international averages 63 passes every time he puts on a Liverpool shirt in the Premier League, which indicates his dominant display in the middle of the park.
He is the glue that binds Liverpool from defence to attack. His tremendous work ethic, desire to win the ball and ability to break up the play have made him the player he is today. Along with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Jordan Henderson has an excellent chance of winning this season’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
#1 Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has not only been the best midfielder in the Premier League this season but also, he is arguably the best in the business right now. The 28-year-old Belgian creator has been in scintillating form throughout the whole season for the Citizens. He has truthfully torn apart the Premier League defences with his vision, passing, and dribbling skills.
Manchester City’s creator in chief has been creating chances for fun this season. The 28-year-old playmaker is topping the list of most number of assists provided, with 16 to his name and has taken his goalscoring tally to a total of eight in the Premier League in the present campaign. The Belgian superstar averages a high percentile of key passes (3.7) per every 90 minutes with a passing accuracy of 81.7%.
De Bruyne has simply been a treat for the eyes for every football lover. His command in tight situations, his expertise in going past defenders with ease, and his off-the-ball movements, despite playing in a free role, are second to none at this moment in the Premier League.
Despite having a squad full of world-class midfielders, Pep Guardiola can consider himself lucky to have a player like De Bruyne at his disposal. The Belgian playmaker’s difference-making ability has set him apart from the rest of the midfielders in this season’s Premier League.
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