In these days of tactical flexibility, the term ‘central midfielder’ has been almost lost. When you have deep-lying midfielders initiating attacks and attacking midfielders charging forward to lead the press, it’s difficult to compare players on different teams as their value often depends as much on the formations they play in as their basic stats.
However, some names always come up whenever box-to-box midfielders who disrupt play are mentioned - N’Golo Kante, Ander Herrera, Jordan Henderson, Idrissa Gueye and Victor Wanyama.
Here’s how these five players match-up across some basic statistics -
As can be expected, all five midfielders show their exceptional ability in one or more particular area, but none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack overall.
- Kante has had followed up an excellent season winning the title with Leicester City with another stellar year, and has Chelsea well on the way to winning the Premier League, earning himself a Player of the Year nomination on the way as well.
- Herrera’s importance to the Manchester United midfield is clearly shown in his attacking and possession stats more than anything else, but also shows good vision in intercepting passes and creating turnovers.
- Henderson has missed time with injuries, but in a possession-based Liverpool system, his passing success rate is very good. He also has the lowest rate of fouls committed in this company.
- Gueye has been an unheralded success in his first season at Everton - he leads the Premier League in tackles made and won, and easily beats the rest of this competition in duels won as well as shots blocked.
- Wanyama has not gotten lost in the plethora of midfielders at Tottenham Hotspur, and while the only category he leads in here is least tackles lost, he does have strong numbers in multiple categories.
Each of these midfielders have been at their best this season playing for their respective teams, and a unilateral comparison is pretty difficult to make - who would you say is the best central midfielder in the Premier League this season?