England's creative midfield options - ranked

Tom Gott
Apr 2, 2021, 10:00 AM GMT+1
Gareth Southgate is spoilt for choice in midfield
Gareth Southgate is spoilt for choice in midfield | Robin Jones/Getty Images

It's hard to believe that the England national team have had a problem with creativity for years. After all, when it comes to attacking midfielders, the Three Lions boast the kind of depth most countries can only dream of.

Gareth Southgate has a wealth of options at his disposal and has slowly started introducing those creative midfielders to his squad. There are so many players battling it out, but ultimately, not all of them can make it into the Euro 2020 squad.

Let's take a look at who's out there.

9. Dele Alli

Dele has a lot of work to do
Dele has a lot of work to do | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Dele Alli's biggest problem these days is that nobody really knows what he's like as a player anymore.

The powerful goal-and-assist machine of a few years ago began to fade away under Mauricio Pochettino and has completely disappeared under Jose Mourinho.

If he can get back in the Tottenham side, he might be able to give Southgate something to think about, but at the minute, he's well out of the reckoning.

8. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled with injuries
Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled with injuries | Pool/Getty Images

Happy to do the dirty work, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has everything needed to be a favourite under Southgate...apart from a reliable track record.

There will always be the dark cloud of fitness concerns for Oxlade-Chamberlain to deal with, but even when he's fit, it's still not clear which is his best position.

He's yet to completely convince as a central midfielder, often spending some time as a winger for Liverpool, and he hasn't shown anything to make him feel more like a backup option at best.

7. Ross Barkley

Barkley has impressed with Villa
Barkley has impressed with Villa | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

At times, Ross Barkley can look like the best midfielder on the planet. He's a marauding powerhouse with a fantastic eye for goal, and those skills mean the Chelsea loanee has to be considered for a role.

His stock has undoubtedly risen during his loan with Aston Villa, but Barkley still hasn't totally shaken concerns which have followed him his entire life. When he's not creating, he's not really doing much.

Another thing which doesn't work in Barkley's favour is his limited versatility. He's good as a ten or an eight, but he won't work deep and will be underwhelming out wide.

6. Jesse Lingard

Lingard is back playing football
Lingard is back playing football | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The creative hub for England just three years ago, Jesse Lingard's career has stalled somewhat recently, but he's well on track to figuring things out.

Having left Manchester United for West Ham, Lingard has a platform to showcase what he is all about. He might not be the man who racks up goals and assists, but few players are as positive in their play style as Lingard.

He's still got a lot to prove, but there's enough about Lingard to suggest that he's in with an outside chance of making the squad for the summer's European Championships - especially considering that he was back in the squad for the recent World Cup qualifiers.

5. James Ward-Prowse

Ward-Prowse has forced his way back into contention
Ward-Prowse has forced his way back into contention | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

James Ward-Prowse has been on the radar of the England staff ever since he was 15 years old and playing in the Under-17s. He captained the Under-21 side for the best part of two years, but Ward-Prowse has never really made a breakthrough to the senior setup.

Once seen as little more than a dead-ball specialist, Ward-Prowse has upped his game tremendously in recent years and is probably Southgate's dream midfielder. The Southampton star is hard-working and prepared to defend, but capable of unleashing a great pass to kick-start an attack.

Plus, his skills from free-kicks and corners can't be ignored. Ward-Prowse is dangerous from set-pieces, so he'll always have a case to be included in any squad.

4. James Maddison

Maddison has been sensational for Leicester
Maddison has been sensational for Leicester | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

A real victim of the level of competition, it's almost unfathomable that James Maddison has been on the periphery of the England setup for so long.

Concerns about Maddison's attitude have been alleviated by his willingness to work hard under Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has made it clear that nothing less than 110% will be tolerated, and we've been seeing the best of Maddison this season.

With his love for both a goal and an assist, Maddison is the kind of creative player Southgate's England has been crying out for for years. It's just a shame that there's somebody else vying for his spot.

3. Mason Mount

Mount has proven his worth to Southgate
Mount has proven his worth to Southgate | Clive Mason/Getty Images

Mason Mount has often been misunderstood during his young career. A lot of fans don't see what the Chelsea man brings to the table, but Mount is one of those players who doesn't do his work on the stat sheet.

He's not scared of goals and assists, but Mount isn't exactly the most prolific player. What he lacks in end product, he makes up for with work rate, desire and willingness to work hard.

Mount's ability to play on the half turn is astonishing, but when he's not trying to advance possession, he's relishing the physical battle to recover the ball.

2. Phil Foden

Foden is continuing to grow
Foden is continuing to grow | Pool/Getty Images

Concerns about Phil Foden's involvement at club level are fading away with each passing minute.

The Manchester City starlet is quickly blossoming into one of Pep Guardiola's most dependable players, but most importantly, Foden is having a consistent impact against high-level opposition. That's all England fans have ever wanted from him.

Guardiola likes to deploy him out on the flanks or even as a false nine, but Foden has all the skills to eventually settle in to one of the central attacking midfield positions. Incredible talent, isn't he?

1. Jack Grealish

Grealish is one of the Premier League's best creators
Grealish is one of the Premier League's best creators | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Simply put, if you want someone to create chances for you, there are few players in world footballer better equipped to help than Jack Grealish.

Few players on the planet can ask questions of defenders quite like Grealish, who is an all-round monster when it comes to attacking. His bread-and-butter is assisting, but he's more than happy to chip in with a goal or two when the chance arises.

What sets Grealish apart from the rest is his ability to have that kind of impact in any area of the pitch. Whether as an eight, a ten or a left winger, you know exactly what you're going to get from the Villa talisman, who has already flashed his brilliance on the international stage.

If there can be only one answer to the question, that answer has to be Grealish.

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