Welcome to World Class

The top 5 attacking midfielders in the world 2021 - ranked

Sean Walsh
Who makes 90min's list of world class attacking midfielders?
Who makes 90min's list of world class attacking midfielders? / 90min
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Every football player thinks that the position they play in is the toughest.

The actual hardest position to succeed in is as a striker, but there is a legitimate argument that the attacking midfielder is pushing it close.

Think about it. Goals are the most valuable currency in our game. It's a hard ask, but it's still a simple remit for a forward. The number ten has a wider array of responsibilities to excel at.

They have to be playmakers, they have to be goal scorers, they have to play between the lines but make late runs into the box, and nowadays they're expected to press and press and press - they're the Swiss army knives of football players.

And that's why world class attacking midfielders deserve recognition.

But what is 'world class'?

We at 90min have been trying to nail down a definition using special stats and metrics.

  • A world class footballer is defined as one of the top five players in the world in their position.
  • All players can fit into one of 10 on-field positions; GK, RB, LB, CB, DM, CM, AM, RF, LF, ST.
  • All players have been graded across ten different subcategories in the decision-making process - you can find more information on everything mentioned above here.
  • Performances for club and country are considered.
  • We want you to have your say - check out details on how to get involved below.

Let's get into our top 5 AMs on the planet.


All statistics are provided by StatsPerform over the period of January 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 (inclusive of domestic and continental cup competitions).


Attacking midfielders

5. Bernardo Silva (new entry)

Silva won the fan poll
Silva won the fan poll / 90min

Games played: 47
Minutes played: 3706
Goals: 9
Assists: 11
Chances created: 51
Shots: 54
Shots on target: 25
Shot conversion rate: 17.7
Minutes per goal: 412

We asked you to decide who should make it in at number five. Phil Foden was in with a shout, but it was Bernardo Silva who smashed it out of the park in the fan vote.

Following a few years of transfer speculation and reported unhappiness in Manchester, Silva absolutely exploded towards the end of 2021, proving to be one of the best players in the Premier League.

Standing out in Manchester City's stacked forward line isn't easy, but somehow, Silva is making it look like a cakewalk.

4. Neymar (new entry)

Neymar's had a rocky 2021 by his own high standards
Neymar's had a rocky 2021 by his own high standards / 90min

Games played: 33
Minutes played: 2556
Goals: 11
Assists: 8
Chances created: 80
Shots: 90
Shots on target: 30
Shot conversion rate: 12.2
Minutes per goal: 232

Making the switch from the left forward rankings over to the attacking midfield position is professional showboater and part-time goalscorer Neymar.

It's been a rough year by his standards. Paris Saint-Germain were pipped to the Ligue 1 title by Lille, Man City thrashed them in the semi-finals of the Champions League, and Neymar's Brazil lost to Lionel Messi's Argentina in the final of Copa America.

So why is he still a lock on this list? Because he will still always make something happen as long as he is on the pitch.

3. Bruno Fernandes (-)

Fernandes has risen to global stardom since joining Man Utd
Fernandes has risen to global stardom since joining Man Utd / 90min

Games played: 54
Minutes played: 4328
Goals: 18
Assists: 17
Chances created: 129
Shots: 150
Shots on target: 53
Shot conversion rate: 12.0%
Minutes per goal: 240

Another year of putting Manchester United on his back and carrying them for long stretches at a time hasn't yielded any silverware for Bruno Fernandes yet, but at least he's retained his spot on the podium for #W2WC21. And that's the real quiz.

The Portuguese maestro has a transformative impact on any game he plays for the Red Devils - his stats above are just ridiculous.

With Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him and an actual coach in the dugout, it won't be long until Fernandes tastes tangible glory at Old Trafford.

2. Thomas Muller (-)

Muller's quietly had a phenomenal year
Muller's quietly had a phenomenal year / 90min

Games played: 45
Minutes played: 3594
Goals: 12
Assists: 23
Chances created: 124
Shots: 70
Shots on target: 29
Shot conversion rate: 17.1%
Minutes per goal: 300

The Thomas Muller of the 2020s loves two things - destroying Barcelona, and finding new ways to reinvent himself as a player.

Mr Raumdeuter is now one of Europe's most prolific creators (I mean...just look at those stats) and is the perfect sidekick in attack to goalscoring extraordinaire Robert Lewandowski.

Now a ten-time champion of Germany, Muller is ageing like a fine wine and showing no signs of slowing down.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (-)

Simply the best
Simply the best / 90min

Games played: 37
Minutes played: 2547
Goals: 11
Assists: 8
Chances created: 87
Shots: 87
Shots on target: 29
Shot conversion rate: 12.6%
Minutes per goal: 232

In terms of games played and minutes spent on the grass, this has been one of Kevin De Bruyne's quieter years.

But he's more than made up for it in an intangible sense, leading Man City to another Premier League title and ousting stiff competition to win the PFA Player of the Year award for a second successive season - becoming just the third player after Thierry Henry and Ronaldo to win it in back-to-back years.

Injuries are starting to rock the Belgian's career, yet every time he steps on the pitch he looks as dangerous as ever, controlling the pace of the match like a game of foosball, tipping the table up and rolling the ball towards the opposition goal at will.

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