December is largely considered the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for two reasons – Welcome to World Class returning to your screens is the first, and Christmas just behind.
And now it’s time to see how the world’s best central midfielders rank when put against 90min’s metrics.
In case you aren’t familiar with our process, here’s how we got here.
Enough talk, let’s dive in…
All statistics are provided by StatsPerform over the period of January 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 (inclusive of domestic and continental cup competitions).
Games played: 34
Minutes played: 2456
Chances created: 41
Passing accuracy: 87.1%
After roaring to global stardom with his lockdown transformation (and 2020 Champions League winners’ medal, but that’s a footnote in this story really), Goretzka has now fully established himself as one of the world’s premier midfielders.
There isn’t a single skill that he or usual partner Joshua Kimmich don’t excel at between them, and while Robert Lewandowski grabs the headlines for the obscene number of goals he scores, he’s helped by Bayern being built on solid foundations in midfield.
Now in the hands of one of the most promising tacticians in the world in Julian Nagelsmann, who knows what kind of levels Goretzka can elevate himself to? Maybe he’ll go full Tim Wiese and join WWE.
Games played: 33
Minutes played: 2604
Chances created: 71
Passing accuracy: 93.7%
Don’t let the ‘down 2’ next to his name distract you from the fact that Toni Kroos has been world class for nearly a whole decade now, and will continue to be world class long into the 2020s.
Now 31, Kroos is still churning out top performances week after week – and fans can now see him live again at a palace befitting of him like the Bernabeu, too.
Games played: 41
Minutes played: 3279
Chances created: 58
Passing accuracy: 88.4%
Five years Kroos’ elder, Modric is starting to be wrapped up in cotton wool by Carlo Ancelotti as his career winds down. But when he plays – which is still plenty – he looks as young as ever.
Ballon d’Or notoriety has long passed and yet that seems not to have dented Modric’s ambition, with Real Madrid well on their way to another La Liga title.
It’s been a weirdly quiet year for Los Blancos on the trophy front, but the good times are nearing again and Modric’s experience has been pivotal in a Madrid side full of budding youngsters.
Games played: 26
Minutes played: 1931
Chances created: 33
Passing accuracy: 90.4%
If the world were a fair and just place, then the Italian midfielder on this year’s Ballon d’Or podium would have been Marco Verratti.
Unfortunately for him, that’s just life. He’ll instead have to live in solace with the fact that he’s the top central midfielder in the world…according to us.
Anyone who had even half an eye on Euro 2020 would have told you that Verratti was the best midfielder there, and that success with Italy is earning him the recognition he finally deserves.
There are only two factors that have stopped him from becoming a unanimous pick among the all-time great midfielders – the fact he’s played most of his career in France, and his fitness record. But you’d be hard pressed to find any game from Verratti where he’s not been one of the top performers on the pitch by miles.
I know what you’re thinking – we promised you five world class centre mids and we’ve only presented four to you.
But that wouldn’t be as fun as allowing you to decide who the fifth player on this list should be.
During our planning stages, there were four other players who we found it just too difficult to pick between for that elusive final spot.
So we’d like you to vote on which of these players should take the final spot in our top five…
Votes can be cast until 8pm (GMT), and the winner will be announced shortly after – so check 90min’s Twitter page to influence results and head back here this evening to see who made the cut.
You can also catch the guys in the studio at 3pm where they will debate these rankings and who they think should be considered world class.