Spurs Target Rodriguez & The 20 Best Attacking Midfielders in Europe Right Now - Part One
Who do we consider to be the best 20 attacking midfielder playing in Europe? It’s a question that will have more than one answer and certainly start a few arguments. So how do we rate players? We can look at stats and success but also personal opinion plays a major role. What league one tends to watch is another and also what one looks for in a player plays a part. Some of us like passing, others pace and others goals. So I have tried to take them all into account. When making up the list I checked out Opta stats, Bloomberg’s Top 50 players, watched a few videos and as mentioned added some personal opinions.
One major issue that I stumbled across was the definition of ‘Attacking Midfielder’. There are players like Yaya Toure, Lampard, Arturo Vidal and Gerrard who although they are not classed as attacking midfielders, they do score and occasionally assist more than those who are solely classed as AMs. So I have decided to go with the following definition: ‘An attacking midfielder is a midfield player who is positioned between central midfield and the team's forwards, and who has a primarily offensive role. According to positioning along the field, attacking midfield may be divided into left, right and central attacking midfield roles. A central attacking midfielder may be referred to as a playmaker, or number ten’.
So without further ado, here is who I consider to be the 20 best attacking midfielders currently plying their trade in Europe:
20. Jesus Navas - Man City
Recently signed by Manchester City, the former Sevilla man looked destined to remain in Andalucia for his entire career. Whilst he had plenty of talent, his anxiety and homesickness issues looked set to hinder his career. In 2010 he went to the World Cup when most believed it was a risk but he survived and worked out his problems. Great on the wing and very creative, he needs to work on his shooting as his goal scoring record is very poor.
19. Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Borussia Dortmund
Not many knew much about the Armenian until Liverpool expressed an interest but Mkhitaryan and his long list of admirers will not have surprised those that had followed the Champions League closely. Can play up front as a striker but his favourite position appears to be linking the midfield and the forwards. Scored 25 league goals last season, he has an eye for a pass and more importantly for goal. Not afraid to run at and take on defenders, he also has a few tricks in his bag. A hard worker on and off the ball, it is clear why Rodgers wanted him and also why BVB moved quickly to beat the Reds to his signature.
18. James Rodríguez - AS Monaco
The 22-year Colombian raised a few eyebrows when he joined AS Monaco.
He is considered to be one of the best young players in the world and has already been compared to Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama who has said that he feels that Rodríguez is very similar to him. His dribbling, creativity and movement saw a host of clubs track him. Last season he scored 13 goals and while he lives in Falcao’s shadow on the international scene, it won’t be for long.
17. Isco - Real Madrid
Francisco Alarcon Suarez, or Isco as he is better known, has hit the ground running at Real Madrid. With Bale coming in, his playing time may be cut down but he will still make an impact when called upon. Still just 21, he really showed his maturity last season at Málaga. With the club having been forced to sell key players to balance the books, the youngster was needed to step up and how he did! Dazzled in the Champions League and mesmerized in La Liga. Real Madrid ran to the Costa del Sol to sign him and beat off other suitors. Scored 12 goals last season and has three already for Los Vikingos and has also provided an assist. His movement is similar to Iniesta and many see him as his possible successor but Isco has his feet firmly on the ground and is taking it one step at a time.
16. Marco Reus - Borussia Dortmund
A fantastic player who is just 24. He can play anywhere across the midfield although Klopp seems to prefer him on the left. His ability with both feet and his control strikes fear into the hearts of defenders. A key player for Germany, there is no wonder why Arsenal were rumoured to be so keen to try and sign him this summer, even though he had just joined BVB the summer before. With 27 goals and 14 assists on the domestic and international stage, BVB have done well to hold on to him but can they persuade him that his future doesn’t lie elsewhere next summer? Klopp knows he will face a fight but also feels he can
15. Andrea Pirlo - Juventus
He is classed as a playmaker and as the definition above says, that is a term that attacking midfielders can be referred to as and so makes the list. At 34, the Italian shows no sign of letting up and continues to light the way for others to follow. He has a similar passing accuracy record to Xavi and Iniesta and his vision is second to none. His free kicks can be a joy to watch. His detractors will point out he has no pace, doesn’t defend and is poor in the air but Pirlo, at 34, is still better in your team than against it. Has won everything in the game and is still hungry. His career is winding down and when he does call time on his career he will be sorely missed. Still can be very dangerous and can turn a game around.
14. Eden Hazard - Chelsea
It is just crazy the wealth of talent that Chelsea have in midfield. Hazard made an immediate impact on the pitch with many expecting him to need time to settle and adapt. Chelsea landed a great talent and the 22-year-old Belgian will only get better. Can play in the centre or the wing, his speed and flair make him a defenders worst nightmare. He has been described as ‘fearless, explosive attacking midfielder who can change the game with a turn of pace or a dribble.’ Being compared to Ronaldo and Messi would faze some players but Hazard has the maturity to deal with it. Has scored some great goals but needs to become more prolific. He has also been accused of being lazy but Mourinho won’t stand for that and with a Chelsea bench that is just packed with talent waiting to get their chance, there is no room for slouching in the this side
13. Arda Turan - Atlético de Madrid
The ‘Turkish Messi’ is going into his third year at Atlético and he has been a huge success at the Vicente Calderon. Under Gregorio Manzano he was one of the few highlights to a poor side and since Cholo Simeone has taken the reins he has gone from strength to strength. The 26 year old plays mainly down the left side of midfield and at Atleti he has linked up well with left back Filipe Luis and provided many opportunities for former striker Falcao. Was key to both the Copa del Rey success in 2013 and the Europa League success the year before. His vision, pace and ball control have won him many plaudits. He is always committed and has to leave the pitch most games around the 70th minute as he is burnt out from covering so much of the pitch. Last season he got five goals but with Falcao gone, Simeone will look to him to step up alongside Villa and Diego Costa. He admits to being a Liverpool fan and has been heavily linked with them but until the Reds get Champions League football, it is hard to see him at Anfield.
12. Phillipe Coutinho - Liverpool
This will certainly raise a few eyebrows but the Brazilian is just 21 and in that time he has made plenty of fans in both Spain and England. At 16 he signed for Inter Milan. Arsenal were also interested and expressed an interest in taking him off Inter’s hands as he failed to convince in Italy. Eighteen months ago, Inter sent him to Espanyol where he put in some solid displays and he thought he had done enough to get into Inter’s starting XI but in the winter transfer window he was sold to Liverpool. It was a steal for Rodgers. He can play on the right and also through the middle. At Espanyol he was used at times as a forward. He is still learning and can be pushed off the ball easily at times but with a full season of uninterrupted football under his belt he should mature nicely. Liverpool have a real gem on their hands and for that reason he is included on the list.
11. Mario Götze - Bayern Munich
Is just 21 but was wanted by a host of European clubs and Bayern Munich snapped him from the clutches of the rest just before the season ended. He is ambidextrous and loves to run at players. His pace and eye for goal make him a lethal opponent and with Pep Guardiola now over him to finish off his schooling, there is a strong possibility that he can become a real great. But, he still has work to do and Pep will need him to improve his decision-making. Sometimes his eye can roam and he picks out the wrong option but he is still very young and that will improve with experience. His 22 goals and 14 assists where key to helping Borussia Dortmund reach the Champions League final in Wembley and putting Germany just two points off the 2014 World Cup.