Midfielders are the players who run the game of football. They are crucial in setting up the style of play and controlling the flow of the game.
These players are the link between attack and defence often playing defence-splitting passes and breaking up opposition play as and when required. This season, the top leagues around the world have witnessed many amazing midfielders go about their business and pull the strings for their respective sides.
All the best teams in the world have that one player in the centre of the park capable of making a difference with a moment of magic. We take a look at the 10 best midfielders in the world in 2017
These 3 midfielders were extremely good for their respective teams, but they just missed out on making the top 10 because of some slight inconsistencies in their performances over the calendar year.
Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
The captain of Napoli has had a fine 2017. Playing as an attacking midfielder, Hamsik has been at the forefront of Napoli’s thrilling style of play and he will be hoping to guide The Partenopei to the Serie A title at the end of this season.
Casemiro and Isco (Real Madrid)
While the Real Madrid team is filled with stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, Casemiro is often the person who does all the dirty work. A brilliant performer for Madrid last season, his form like most of his team-mates has tailed off in the 2017/18 season.
Isco, on the other hand, is the player who was closest to making the top 10. Simply superb and sublime for Madrid in the Champions League and La Liga last season, the Spaniard has struggled to replicate the same form this season and will be looking to bounce back in 2018.
Now, let us take a look at the 10 players who were the best midfielders of 2017:
#10 Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta’s career is slowly winding to an end, but the veteran Spaniard showed glimpses of his class this year especially in the second half of 2017. Captain of Ernesto Valverde’s highly impressive Barcelona side, the 33-year-old midfielder has run the game with his calm passing and composure on the ball.
Having signed a ‘lifetime’ contract with Barcelona, Iniesta has shown that he is still capable of making the difference with his incisive passing and through balls. There were talks of Iniesta being past his prime, but the veteran Spaniard has shown that class is permanent.
A vital cog in Valverde’s side, Iniesta will be looking to end the season strongly and claim both the Champions League and La Liga titles.
#9 Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich)
One of the most versatile midfielder players in the world, Thiago is capable of playing as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder, attacking midfielder and even out wide if required. Blessed with supreme passing range and decision making, the former Barcelona man always seems to pick out the right pass at the right time.
The Bayern Munich midfielder was arguably the best player in the Bundesliga in the first half of 2017, dictating his side’s style of play and setting up numerous goals for the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben.
However, although Thiago has still remained very very good, his form has somewhat tailed off this season. He also suffered an injury in November, which is why the wonderfully talented Spaniard is only 9th on this list.
#8 David Silva (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been destroying teams in both the Premier League and Champions League and it has largely been thanks to the influence of David Silva. One of the most elegant players to ever grace the game, Silva this season has rediscovered the form which made him one of the best midfielders in the world in 2013/14.
The 31-year-old along with Kevin De Bruyne is the two players Pep Guardiola trusts most in his team. Always in space and picking out the right passes, the silky Spaniard has made the game look ridiculously simple.
Silva’s numbers this season are also extremely impressive. Having made 23 appearances so far, the 31-year-old has managed to score 5 goals and bag 10 assists making him a vital cog in Manchester City’s machine.
#7 Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
The Manchester United man was judged harshly by his transfer fee when he first made the move to the Premier League, but the Frenchman has slowly but surely silenced his critics with his dynamic performances in the heart of midfield for the Red Devils.
A complete midfielder, Pogba is capable of contributing to the attack and is also a menacing presence while defending. Blessed with supreme skill, physicality and pace, the 24-year-old superstar has quickly developed into one of United’s most important players.
In facr, when the Frenchman was out with a suspension, the Premier League giants looked like a shadow of themselves and struggled to control the midfield battle. Simply superb in United’s Europa League triumph and the first half of the Premier League this season, Pogba will be hopeful of continuing his good form in 2018.
#6 Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)
When clubs like Barcelona and PSG are ready to break the bank for a player, you know that he is pretty special. Liverpool’s magician Philippe Coutinho has mesmerised the Premier League with his stunning performances in the last few seasons. Capable of the spectacular and a perfect fit under Jurgen Klopp, the little Brazilian has steadily enhanced his reputation as Liverpool’s standout performer.
Known for his agility and dribbling skills, Coutinho has largely improved on his passing and vision in the last few years and is now a regular provider of assists for his team-mates. A typical Brazilain number 10, Coutinho is most comfortable playing as an attacking midfielder though he has also played on the left-flank on a number of occasions.
Heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, the Brazilan superstar has shown that he is more than capable of mixing it with the big boys with his stunning performances for both Liverpool and the Brazil national team in 2017.
#5 Miralem Pjanic (Juventus)
Bought by Juventus as a replacement for Paul Pogba, 27-year-old Miralem Pjanic has quickly settled into his role as the chief playmaker in this very impressive Juventus side. Gifted with amazing technical ability, playmaking skills and tactical versatility, Pjanic is also exceptional at taking free-kicks.
The Bosnia international was crucial to his side’s Serie A triumph and run to the Champions League final. Having settled in well at Turin, Pjanic is proving to be an upgrade on Pogba and that too at €73 million profit.
This season as well Pjanic has been at his dependable best grabbing 4 goals and 6 assists in 22 appearances. With Juventus struggling to hit the heights of last season, Allegri will be counting on Pjanic to continue his good form into 2018.
#4 N’golo Kante (Chelsea)
Crowned the PFA Player of the Year in 2017, N’golo Kante has been undoubtedly the best and most effective midfielder in the Premier League during the 2016/17 season. Having won back to back league titles with two different clubs (Leicester City and Chelsea), the Frenchman has been a true revelation and he is finally getting the credit he deserves.
Kante’s ability to regain possession in the centre of the park is unparalleled, while his willingness to storm forward with the ball at his feet has created many openings for Chelsea this year. Kante’s positional sense and awareness of the game is second to none and he is renowned for making vital interceptions and winning the ball back for his team.
Having greatly improved his attacking style of play as well under Antonio Conte, Kante along with Hazard was the standout player in Chelsea’s incredible Premier League winning squad. The Frenchman is now truly recognised as a global superstar across the world.
#3 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
One of the most complete midfielders in world football, Kevin De Bruyne is undoubtedly the jewel in the Manchester City crown. Known for his immaculate technique, a wide range of passing skills and ability to score spectacular long-range goals, De Bruyne has been key to City’ s consistent performances in both the Premier League and Champions League.
De Bruyne’s importance to Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City team can be seen by these quotes from Guardiola himself. Speaking in an earlier interview, the legendary Spanish manager said:
“I think he is a special, outstanding player. He makes everything. Without the ball he is the first fighter, and with the ball he is clear – he sees absolutely everything.”
Having started the season in blistering fashion, the Belgian superstar will be keen to continue his stunning form in 2018. The way he is playing at the moment, the 26-year-old will probably be on top of this list next year.
#2 Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
In a team filled with superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, it was arguably Luka Modric who stole all the headlines last season for his stunning performances in the Champions League and the latter half of La Liga.
Comfortably picking holes through the watertight Juventus defence, Modric showed some real class in the final putting in an outstanding performance in the Champions League final. His eye-catching performances last year earned him the 5th rank in the 2017 Ballon d’Or rankings making him the highest ranked midfielder on that list.
A supreme playmaker capable of running with the ball and pulling off stunning passes, the Croatian only misses out on the top spot due to a slightly lethargic performance in the last 3 months of this calendar year.
#1 Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Probably Real Madrid’ s most consistent player this year, Toni Kroos has arguably taken his game to new heights ever since he made the switch to Madrid from Bayern Munich. Calm, composed and always assured on the ball, Kroos is the conductor in the midfield who pulls the strings for the Spanish giants.
Hardly putting a foot wrong in 2017, the German midfield maestro passed the ball with precision and confidence and was always there to keep possession and get attacks started for the Madrid team.
Still only 27, Kroos is reaching his peak age as a footballer and Madrid will be hoping to build their midfield around the talented German for many years to come.
Kroos for his game-changing and consistent performances throughout the year is the best midfielder for 2017!