Traditional number tens might be a rarity right now, but that does not mean world football is short of elite attacking midfielders.
The creative conduit between the rest of the team and the forward line, attacking midfielders are tasked with creating chances, splitting defences and grabbing goals of their own. With an abundance of magic midfielders to choose from, ranking our top five was no easy task.
Ranking the five best attacking midfielders in world football right now
5. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Bruno Fernandes has been the centrepiece of Manchester United since arriving from Sporting Lisbon, with the midfielder’s impact immediate as he dragged a struggling side towards Champions League qualification.
The following season saw Fernandes score 28 goals in all competitions, a record for a Premier League midfielder in a single season. The Portugal international has been a production machine since signing for the Red Devils and has contributed 77 goals and assists in 124 league appearances for the club.
The 28-year-old is prepared to take risks in the final third and is a relentless runner, setting an example for his side in terms of both work-rate and end product. Last season he led the Premier League for key passes (121), through balls (35) and big chances created (32) and Erik ten Hag will know any centre-forward addition will be well supplied from Fernandes next season.
Bruno Fernandes quietly dropping 𝟮𝟬+ goals 𝘼𝙉𝘿 assists for club and country this season 🔥🎩 pic.twitter.com/AAOO58GPo2
— LiveScore (@livescore) June 21, 2023
The midfielder has grown in influence on the international stage to match his contribution at club level, with seven goals and six assists in his last 11 appearances for Portugal.
Fernandes recorded 21 goals and 21 assists in all competitions for club and country during a marathon 70-game season in 2022/23. No player played more minutes than Fernandes anywhere, Portugal and Manchester United’s indefatigable inventor.
4. Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)
Jamal Musiala makes this list despite being just a matter of months out of his teenage years, with the 20-year-old having developed into an irreplaceable figure for the Bundesliga’s dominant force.
Musiala is a talent who can truly do it all, comfortable in any position across midfield or further forward. After two promising campaigns in the Bayern Munich side, Musiala’s output exploded last season with 22 goal involvements from just 26 league starts for the German champions.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 13, 2022
He scored 12 goals and laid on a further 10 assists for Bayern, who snatched the title from Borussia Dortmund in dramatic fashion as Musiala struck an 89th-minute winner on the final day against FC Köln.
Musiala can be mesmeric to watch with his adhesive close control and ability to wriggle through defensive gaps, a footballer who comes alive in tight areas of the pitch. Already a winner of four Bundesliga titles, he has been named in the divisional Team of the Season in consecutive campaigns. The sky appears the limit.
3. Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
Martin Odegaard was barely out of school before he was backed for stardom, the wonderkid signed by Real Madrid as a teenager.
That move failed to work out as hoped, but Odegaard has began to fulfil his potential in the colours of Arsenal. After a solid first full season in north London, the Norwegian has taken his game to a new level this time around.
Martin Odegaard is a joy to watch, pass it on ✨ pic.twitter.com/5gu2NhD7Jo
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 19, 2023
Eyebrows were raised when Mikel Arteta named the midfielder captain last summer, but he has been the driving force in Arsenal’s improvement. Odegaard has been a revelation as the creative hub of an emerging team, with his influence behind Arsenal’s challenge for the Premier League title.
The 24-year-old scored 15 league goals and laid on seven assists, while there were countless moments of head-scratching wonder from the Emirates crowd as Odegaard dissected defences with passes of perfect weight and timing.
2. Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva is a difficult talent to categorise quite simply because the Manchester City midfielder can do it all.
Silva is inventive and industrious, a workaholic with a wizard’s touch. He can play from the right or through the middle and so often impacts the biggest of occasions.
The Portugal international is perhaps the perfect player for a Pep Guardiola side, covering every blade of grass with insatiable work-rate while revelling in the intricacies of Manchester City’s possession-dominant approach.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 21, 2023
He presses with intelligence and intent, dribbles through defences with effortless ease and scores important goals at vital times. There’s good reason that Guardiola has fought hard to keep hold of the midfielder in recent transfer windows.
1. Kevin De Bruyne
Is there a more complete footballer in the world than Kevin De Bruyne?
Manchester City’s brilliant Belgian has dominated the Premier League’s assist charts in recent seasons, but the prolific productivity of the midfielder is just a small, admittedly brilliant, facet of his game.
De Bruyne can power past players like a racehorse from midfield, thunder in efforts of either foot, and execute passes others can’t comprehend.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 12, 2023
The arrival of Erling Haaland last summer provided the perfect focal point for De Bruyne’s defence-splitting passes and for the fourth time the 31-year-old led the Premier League for assists.
He became just the fifth player to reach a century of assists in the Premier League earlier in the campaign and was the fastest to ever bring up 100 goals created in the division. It wasn’t even close.
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