May 7, 2021

Here’s our list of the current top 10 footballers primarily responsible for regulating their side’s tempo, being the focal point of their midfields and/or maintaining the press.

[penci_video url=”https://youtu.be/bjOANPfZZYE” align=”right” width=”300″ /]


Before you get into the list do remember that there is a myriad of reasons – many unquantifiable – that go into determining lists like these. Most of these entries might even reflect upon my subjectivity, meaning you might agree with some of my mentions, or none at all. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!

Well then, here we go.


10- David Silva

Age – 35 (8 January 1986)
Country – Spain
Current club – Real Sociedad (LaLiga Santander)

Having enjoyed a decade-long success during his time in the Premier League with Man City, David Silva returned to Spain earlier this season with Real Sociedad. While El Mago’s inevitably on the decline with his age, he’s still one of the most influential playmakers around, capable of regulating possession and driving the ball up the pitch. In his prime, he was capable of occupying wider places, and even worked as a false-nine for City and the Spain National Team, but these days he just prefers to stay central, in a less intense role.




9- Houssem Aouar

Age – 22 (30 June 1998)
Country – France
Current club – Olympique Lyonnais (Ligue 1 Uber Eats)

One of the brightest up-and-coming stars, Aouar is already one of the best players in France. Calm, technically gifted, and positionally astute, Aouar has potential to play anywhere in the midfield but mostly plays as an advanced playmaker for Lyon. He’s destined to leave for greener pastures sooner rather than later.



8- Jordan Henderson

Age – 30 (17 June 1990)
Country – England
Current club – Liverpool (Premier League)

Jordan Henderson’s importance in the Liverpool’s side is almost always understated. He might not have Neymar’s tricks, or De Bruyne’s aesthetic passes, but his importance in the Reds’ midfield has been accentuated by him having to play as a centre-back during his side’s massive injury crisis.

After taking the captain’s armband from Steven Gerrard, Jordan was always going to have his work cut out, but through his leadership, grit, and consistency, he has established himself as one of the most important generals in Jürgen Klopp’s armoury.

Jordan Henderson was earlier played as a deep-lying number six during Brendan Rodgers’ and Klopp’s early years, because of his physicality and positional astuteness. Later, though, he pushed to be played in an advanced role, giving a new lease to his both his career and Liverpool’s charge towards glory. Jordan’s pressing and quick short passing coupled with an eye for decent long ball makes him a vital cog in Liverpool’s relentless midfield. Since he’s playing in defence this season Liverpool’s midfield, and by extension their overall play, is suffering for it.



7- Marco Verratti

Age – 28 (5 November 1992)
Country – Italy
Current club – Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1 Uber Eats)

The Italy international might have never played in the Italian top-flight, but he’s been one of the stalwarts during PSG’s imperial rise as France’s most potent team. Known for his stamina and passing, Verratti is now also one of the leaders in the PSG side.


6- Marcel Sabitzer

Age – 26 (17 March 1994)
Country – Austria
Current club – RB Leipzig (1. Bundesliga)

Sabitzer is another of those underrated names that usually go under the radar. The Austria international is not only crucial to his side’s press, he’s also the captain. His passing and movement are better utilised under Julian Nagelsmann, who has converted Sabitzer as a box-to-box player from a wide midfielder.



5- Koke

Age – 29 (8 January 1992)
Country – Spain
Current club – Atlético Madrid (LaLiga Santander)

Another one of Simeone’s trusted generals, Koke is Atlético’s operator-in-chief. A playmaker very much of the Xavi mould, Koke has been played by Simeone both centrally and out in the wings. At just 29, he has already played over 500 times for both club and country.



4- Miralem Pjani?

Age – 30 (2 April 1990)
Country – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Current club – FC Barcelona (LaLiga Santander)

Pjani? might have been brought in by Barça as part of their books-balancing scheme, but the Bosnian’s quality is unquestionable. It’s rather unfortunate that he now plays with Messi, for Pjani? is, in his own right, one of the deadliest dead-ball specialists in the world. He’s also capable of playing as a number ten and in a defensive role.



3- Luka Modri?

Age – 35 (9 September 1985)
Country – Croatia
Current club – Real Madrid (LaLiga Santander)

In his first year at Real, Luka Modri? was rated the worst signing in LaLiga for the entire 2012-13 season. He would go on to win the Ballon d’Or five years later.

While Luka has clearly started to decline with his age, he is still one of the finest and complete operators in the midfield. With Los Blancos experiencing a topsy-turvy season, Zidane is having to rely on his old guard to get results. Modri? might no longer be a long-term solution, but he’s still crucial in getting Real over the line; another one of those players who are missed even more once they stop playing.



2- Thiago Alcântara

Age – 29 (11 April 1991)
Country – Spain
Current club – Liverpool (Premier League)

Safe to say, Thiago’s Liverpool adventure has not started on a great note. But then, that is what he would have expected after leaving Bayern on the highest of notes – winning the Treble.

With his time at Bayern, Thiago has made a name for himself as one of the craftiest footballers. With his close control, quick movement and near-unmatchable passing range, Thiago brings the unpredictable, creative angle to the Liverpool side. That said, we might have to wait for the Reds get their defenders to see Thiago’s influence in its entirety.

1- Toni Kroos

Age – 31 (4 January 1990)
Country – Germany
Current club – Real Madrid (LaLiga Santander)

Toni Kroos is another one of Zidane’s veterans who along Modri? is regulating Real’s midfield in their up-and-down season. He might not enjoy over-the-top celebrations, but there are few playmakers classier than the Germany international.



Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Rodri (Manchester City), Tanguy Ndombele (Spurs), Jorginho (Chelsea), James Rodríguez (Everton), Juan Mata (Manchester United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), ?lkay Gündo?an (Manchester City), João Moutinho (Wolves), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Dani Parejo (Villarreal), Ivan Rakiti? (Sevilla), Arthur (Juventus), Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan), Piotr Zieli?ski (Napoli), Nicolò Barella (Inter Milan), Andrien Rabiot (Juventus), Hakan Çalhano?lu (AC Milan), Renato Sanches (Lille).


Do you agree with this list? Who would you rather have in your top 10?

Anshuman Joshi

Anshuman Joshi is a senior writer at SportsKhabri with special focus towards all things football. His other interests include languages, world history and some good fiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story


Next Story

Spanish GP: Bottas fastest in FP1

Latest from Football News

Go toTop

Don't Miss