B90M’s Rating Index for Central Midfielders (CMRI) at end 2016/17
Early this year, we gave you a detailed look at the top 25 central midfielders in world football. After a few statistical updates, as well as outlining which maestros in the heart of midfield succeed in defence, attack and possession, here’s a look at the top 25 CMs in the game over the last three season.
The weighting system for the CMRI considers:
Goals, Assists, Key Passes, Successful Passes, Pass Accuracy, Pass Intent, Long Balls, Dribbling, Tackles, Interceptions, Clearances, Blocks, Aerials Won and fouls drawn.
25 Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Index rating: 53.22
Raw score: 54.52 (28th)
Goals and Assists: 28 (16)
Strongest category: Shot accuracy (3rd) and goal contributions (1st)
Weakest category: Successful passes and passing range
Due to be counted in his more natural habitat of attacking midfield in our January update, the Tottenham young gun still manages to crack the exclusive club of central midfielders. The Spurs’ fortunes largely rest on him this season as, let’s face it, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen will be absolutely brilliant regardless.
24 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Index rating: 53.64
Raw score: 55.72 (27th)
Goals and Assists: 9 (16)
Strongest category: Possession retention (5th), tackling and aerial score
Weakest category: Shot efficiency and dribbling
There’s a never-ending debate about the capabilities of Liverpool’s captain. He doesn’t ooze anything resembling spectacular, save for the odd wonder goal, but he’s a workhorse who remains essential to Liverpool’s game plans.
23 Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
Index rating: 54.19
Raw score: 56.62 (22nd)
Goals and Assists: 10 (12)
Strongest category: Interceptions, ball retention and aerial score
Weakest category: Shot efficiency
Classified as halfway between central and defensive midfielder, United’s terrier in midfield relies on strong defensive attributes to catapult himself into the top 25. Ander now needs to rediscover the scoring touch he had during Louis van Gaal’s reign to push himself higher. His style of play makes his inclusion in United’s starting lineup a difficulty as he’s not a controller of the game or a pure defensive midfielder. It does, however, make him a good all rounder, just not a great one.
22 Jorge ‘Koke’ Resurrección (Atlético Madrid)
Index rating: 54.30
Raw score: 55.61 (24th)
Goals and Assists: 11 (32)
Strongest category: Goal contributions and foul rayio
Weakest category: Dribbling
Things might have gone stale for Los Rojiblancos, but the Madrid native remains one of the most coveted players at his position given his peachy setpieces and strong vision. Seeing him in a side which values possession better would do his progression well.
21 Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
Index rating: 54.39
Raw score: 56.69 (21st)
Goals and Assists: 4 (10)
Strongest category: Interceptions (3rd) and ball retention (4th)
Weakest category: Goal contributions and shot efficiency
A real throwback-type player at his position, the Italian international fancies the dirty work and given the array of talent surrounding, it’s hard to forget how important Marchisio has been for the Old Lady. When it’s all said and done, he will be regarded as one of the best central mids Italy has produced since the turn of the millennium.
20 Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona)
Index rating: 55.29
Raw score: 58.83 (15th)
Goals and Assists: 20 (14)
Strongest category: Shot efficiency (5th) and goal contributions
Weakest category: Dribbling
He’s not the dynamic creator he was at Sevilla, but the Swiss-born Croat has become a more well-rounded talent at the Camp Nou. With Iniesta’s powers waning, his importance to Barcelona’s attack remains high.
19 Borja Valero Iglesias (Internazionale)
Index rating: 56.05
Raw score: 57.73 (17th)
Goals and Assists: 7 (18)
Strongest category: Foul ratio (1st), passing range and shot efficiency
Weakest category: Tackling and interceptions
The Spaniard flipped the Artemio Franchi for the San Siro in the summer and could help Inter Milan become a viable Serie A title contender after years of floundering. He has been of the best pure playmakers in Italy for years and doesn’t seem to be losing a step anytime soon.
18 İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City)
Index rating: 56.10
Raw score: 57.40 (19th)
Goals and Assists: 7 (8)
Strongest category: Foul ratio, successful passes and dribbling
Weakest category: Shot efficiency and tackling
It’s really simple with the German. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as there is at his position in the business. But he’s hardly healthy, which knocks his value quite a bit. If he can shake off the injury bug, his importance to Pep Guardiola’s high fliers will only grow.
Index rating: 56.19
Raw score: 57.54 (18th)
Goals and Assists: 1 (6)
Strongest category: Foul ratio (4th), tackling and successful passes
Weakest category: Goal contributions
The player who continuously defies the logic that goals and assists are what makes a footballer great has earned a lifetime contract from Barcelona. Considering he’s a once in a lifetime talent, investing such faith in security in the Spanish maestro makes plenty sense.
16 Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Index rating: 56.60
Raw score: 56.94 (20th)
Goals and Assists: 7 (4)
Strongest category: Ball retention (3rd), aerial score (5th) and pass intent
Weakest category: Goal contributions and shot efficiency.
As with so many Arsenal players, Xhaka constantly divides opinion. When he’s on, the Swiss international is one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the Premiership. When he’s off, he tends to lose control, both on the ball and of his head given his eight red cards in the last three seasons. It’s been a mixed bag so far at the Emirates and time will tell if he fully validates his price tag.
15 Jean Michaël Seri (OGC Nice)
Index rating: 57.06
Raw score: 58.32 (16th)
Goals and Assists: 10 (15)
Strongest category: Successful passes (3rd), foul ratio, pass accuracy and passing range
Weakest category: Tackling and interceptions
The Ivory Coast international was one of the hottest properties during the summer, who was reportedly courted by the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal. With Nice free-falling this season after being knocked out of the Champions League in the playofff stage, Seri should move to a bigger league soon enough. He’s too solid not to.
14 Adrien Rabiot (PSG)
Index rating: 57.33
Raw score: 59.45 (14th)
Goals and Assists: 8 (4)
Strongest category: Tackling (1st), aerial score (2nd) and interceptions (5th)
Weakest category: Pass intent and goal contributions
Speaking of coveted Ligue 1 midfielders, this PSG star has been catching the eye of the Premier League with his all-around play. A man who looks equally as comfortable on both sides of the pitch, PSG would be smart to hold on to this brimming talent.
13 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)
Index rating: 57.87
Raw score: 59.48 (13th)
Goals and Assists: 4 (9)
Strongest category: Passing range (5th), pass accuracy, ball retention and interceptions
Weakest category: Tackling and goal contributions
So cool, so calm and so adaptive. The game will miss this classy Croat when he hangs them up and, even more so, Real Madrid. After another banner season in 2016/17, Luka Magic still looks like has quite a few more tricks up his sleeve yet.
12 Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid)
Index rating: 58.23
Raw score: 60.23 (11th)
Goals and Assists: 6 (8)
Strongest category: Dribbling (2nd), tackling (5th) and key passes
Weakest category: Ball retention and aerial score
You can only imagine how good he would be if he got more playing time at Madrid or anywhere else. A dynamic talent ever since his Inter Milan days, the Austrian-born Croatian international has made the most of his limited opportunities with Los Blancos.
11 Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham)
Index rating: 58.40
Raw score: 60.23 (10th)
Goals and Assists: 5 (3)
Strongest category: Dribbling (1st), passing range (3rd) and pass completion (4th)
Weakest category: Foul ratio and ball retention
His importance remains paramount to Tottenham’s success given his consistent penetration from deep and needle eye vision. If Spurs are to finally attain the title success their hype warrants, the Belgian midfielder needs to stay healthy.
10 Yaya Touré (Manchester City)
Index rating: 58.47
Raw score: 59.51 (12th)
Goals and Assists: 21 (6)
Strongest category: Passing, ball retention and aerial score
Weakest category: Tackles and interceptions
Yaya may not play much anymore, but his past glories still haven’t faded from memory. While he will struggle to meet our appearance qualifier by January, he’s fully deserving on the back of goalscoring exploits. Prime Yaya was a treat.
9 Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich)
Index rating: 58.90
Raw score: 61.77 (7th)
Goals and Assists: 15 (11)
Strongest category: Tackling (4th), interceptions and ball retention
Weakest category: Dribbling and pass intent
The Chilean midfielder continues to be a proven and reliable linchpin for club and country, remaining just as tenacious and feisty as he is technically gifted. With Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso brought in to strengthen his position, time will tell how much longer Vidal will remain a regular in the Bayern XI.
8 Daniel Parejo Muñoz (Valencia CF)
Index rating: 59.32
Raw score: 60.24 (9th)
Goals and Assists: 25 (17)
Strongest category: Shots to goals (3rd), shot accuracy (4th), foul ratio (5th) and goal contributions
Weakest category: Dribbling and interceptions
Victim to being good in an era of great Spanish midfielders, the ex-Getafe man still can’t get a national team call-up for La Roja. His value to Valencia, however, is immeasurable, and thanks in part to his consistencies, Los Che are shockingly second in La Liga after 11 rounds following a miserable last couple of seasons. Whether he and his fellow ‘bats’ are truly out of hell remains to be seen.
7 Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Index rating: 59.66
Raw score: 60.59 (8th)
Goals and Assists: 21 (19)
Strongest category: Dribbling (3rd), aerial score (3rd) and goal contributions
Weakest category: Interceptions and ball retention
As shown in detail, Pogba is highly integral to ensuring United’s creative juices can flow at its best and are missing the ingenuity he brings. The Frenchman has been settling more into life at Old Trafford and could very well top this list if Mourinho can help him reach the level of dominance his enormous price tag warrants.
6 Miralem Pjanić (Juventus)
Index rating: 61.41
Raw score: 63.29 (6th)
Goals and Assists: 20 (31)
Strongest category: Goal contributions (2nd) and shot accuracy
Weakest category: Tackling and foul ratio
The Bosnian didn’t take too long to settle into life in Turin after becoming a bonafide star at Roma. Already a Serie A champion and Champions League finalist since moving last summer, he continues to buffer his claim as being the best at his position in Italy.
5 Santiago Cazorla González (Arsenal)
Index rating: 63.11
Raw score: 63.88 (5th)
Goals and Assists: 7 (11)
Strongest category: Foul ratio (3rd), key passes (3rd), pass intent (5th), goal contributions and dribbling
Weakest category: Tackling and aerial score
Santiago Cazorla González , Arsenal’s little magician, has been off the scene for far too long. We wish the genius all the best and hope that he can perhaps sign off on his Arsenal career in the right way. Maybe he can rediscover his shot for a farewell goal if he is allowed to leave in the summer. He deserves it.
4 Marco Verratti (PSG)
Index rating: 65.30
Raw score: 65.09 (4th)
Goals and Assists: 5 (16)
Strongest category: Successful passes (1st), shot efficiency (2nd), dribbling (4th) and foul ratio
Weakest category: Ball retention
The Italian was missing from Italy’s disaster of a playoff second leg against Sweden. We still think the pass master should leave France to cement himself amongst the game’s very best and leave his mark on the game. There’s more we can get from him. There’s another level. Italy needs it. Marco needs it.
3 Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea)
Index rating: 66.59
Raw score: 66.16 (3rd)
Goals and Assists: 13 (36)
Strongest category: Key passes (1st), ball retention (2nd), goal contributions (3rd), pass intent (5th)
Weakest category: Interceptions and aerial score
As good as Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta have been for Arsenal in central midfield over the years, a section of Gooners must still be ruing the fact the club opted not to re-sign their former El Capitan. He’s only gone and won two Premier League titles with their fierce London rivals and, despite not initially being Antonio Conte’s cup of tea, has become increasingly vital to the Blues charges. He will go down as one of the Prem’s best ever midfielders when it’s all said and done.
2 Thiago Alcântara do Nascimento (Bayern Munich)
Index rating: 68.68
Raw score: 70.42 (1st)
Goals and Assists: 8 (8)
Strongest category: Interceptions (1st), tackling (2nd) passing range (4th) and key passes
Weakest category: Ball retention
The man who topped out initial list has to settle for the runner-up spot here. An outstanding ball reader whose vision is matched by very few in the game, the Spanish international has finally shown Barcelona why they made a huge mistake in letting him go. He might still go back after all, as he admitted recently, but for now, he’s the man in Bavaria and is coming off a season in which he was arguably the best player in the Bundesliga.
1 Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Index rating: 69.07
Raw score: 69.38 (2nd)
Goals and Assists: 6 (29)
Strongest category: Ball retention (1st), passing range (1st), passing accuracy (1st), key passes (4th) and pass intent (4th)
Weakest category: Shot accuracy
Kroos control truly epitomises German engineering at its finest and it’s the ex-Bayern man who dethrones Thiago at the top spot. The hub that makes Real Madrid’s deep pool of attacking talent tick, the World Cup winner has very rarely had bad games, let alone bad spells at the Bernabéu, and ticks all the boxes of what you look for in a deep-lying playmaker. The technique, the range, the control, and the set pieces, there’s little Kroos can’t do. It’s for that variety why he is rewarded with the number one ranking in our CMRI! Stats just don’t lie…if you know how to use them.