Attacking midfielders were formerly seen to be football’s luxury men, the players who didn’t track back because they were simply too good and could do more harm at the other end of the field.
Now, times have changed, and these attacking midfielders are hardworking, combative, and intense, all while retaining their creative and technical abilities.
Attacking midfielders are currently described as players who play further forward than the typical box-to-box central midfielder while still performing defensive duties for the whole 90 minutes. Too highly rated on the ball to be classified as a ‘regular’ center-mid, but not high enough up the pitch to be classified as a second striker trying to capitalize on a striker’s flick-ons. Anyway, before we go any further, here are the ten best-attacking midfielders in the world right now.
Kamada, an industrious attacking midfielder with a knack for creating chances, has thrived since breaking into Frankfurt’s first team, helping the German side win the Europa League final against Rangers in May.
9. Lorenzo Pellegrini
A progressive ball-playing midfielder, Pellegrini has shone since becoming Roma‘s captain. Capable of passing through the lines, the Italian is extremely comfortable playing off of both feet and linking the team together
8. Mason Mount
The game’s goal is to move. Or, at the very least, it is for Mason Mount. Chelsea’s standout performer over the last two seasons works tirelessly to find space, intelligently dropping into positions that either give him more time or give his teammates acres to work in.
7. Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes arrived at Manchester United in January 2020 and single-handedly transformed the club’s fortunes, propelling them into the Champions League. He has struggled to match the heights he attained back then, but under Erik ten Hag, the Portuguese international is gradually getting there.
Bruno’s incisive passing and long-range shots can enrage fans when they don’t work, but they are glorious when they do. Fernandes’ work rate and desire to win are unrivaled, as he returns with numerous goals and assists each season.
6. Christopher Nkunku
When nearly every footballer in the world is surrounded by three players, there is an unavoidable turnover in possession. But not with Christopher Nkunku.
We never knew if Croydon-born Jamal Musiala would end up as a striker, winger (on the left or right), attacking midfielder, or… whatever Thomas Muller is. But, under Julian Nagelsmann, he’s found a home in midfield.
Musiala, who is still a teenager, has been brilliant for Bayern Munich this season, earning a place in both the Bavarian club’s starting XI and Germany’s World Cup squad. His mazy runs, physicality, and awareness are all superb, and despite the fact that he is still only a youngster, he is definitely a player who is confident in their brilliant abilities.
Once a wunderkind signed by Real Madrid at just 16 years old, Odegaard is finally fulfilling the hype that surrounded him in his teenage years. Still only 23, the Norwegian playmaker is already Arsenal’s captain and is leading by example on the pitch.
3. Piotr Zielinski
Part of a hugely impressive Napoli side, Piotr Zielinski has emerged from the Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne shadows to become the side’s talismanic figure.
An effortless attacking midfielder, the Pole is always in space, never in a rush, and always makes the correct decision. Zielinski‘s sublime technique creates attacking opportunities, while his dribbling skills often send defenders sprawling on the ground.
2. Bernardo Silva
Tenacious in defense and imperious in attack, Bernardo Silva is fleet-footed, incredibly intelligent, and horribly intense; often all at the same time.
Bernardo is the man who progresses Manchester City’s counter-attacks, often winning the ball back with sharp interceptions before spraying it forward with his accurate passing ability. His slight stature allows him to nick the balls off opponents, while his stamina means he simply never stops running.
1. Kevin De Bruyne
Over the past five years, there is only one man who could ever be considered the best-attacking midfielder in the world, and that man is Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne’s characteristic cross from the inside-right position poses plenty of danger to opposing defenses, with accurate, threaded crosses frequently putting Manchester City’s strikers clean through on goal. Close him down at your peril – De Bruyne’s quick thinking pulls him out of tight situations all the time – but let him too much space and watch the carnage spread.
With Erling Haaland playing up front for City, the Belgian has even more offensive alternatives to choose from, and when has he ever made the wrong decision? De Bruyne has also added intense pressure to his game under Pep Guardiola, closing down opposition players with tenacity so that he can spray more passes around.
The complete attacking midfielder, providing both goals and assists, there is nothing the 31-year-old can’t do.