Welcome to World Class

Welcome to World Class: The Top 5 Attacking Midfielders of 2020 - Ranked

Jamie Spencer
Jan 6, 2021, 5:00 PM GMT
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The selections have all been made and 90min's shortlist of attacking midfielders contenders to be considered 'world class' have been whittled down to a final five of the best in their position - the prerequisite for any 'world class' player.

These are the five that made the cut, with the names released one by one over the last few days. But how do they rank compared to each other and who can lay claim to be best attacking midfielder in the world? You're about to find out...

5. Kai Havertz

2020 was the year that Kai Havertz became the most expensive German footballer of all time, joing Chelsea for in excess of £70m and shattering the record set just three months earlier when compatriot Timo Werner agreed to make the same move.

It was not without reason for Havertz, who had very quickly emerged as one of the best young players in the world. He has experience, intelligence, vision and maturity beyond his years, having already got four seasons with Bayer Leverkusen under his belt.

Despite possessing more pace than your average ‘number 10’, Havertz has always been a measured player, never in a rush or too hasty with the ball at his feet. That quality hasn’t had the chance to shine through at Chelsea, but it is a question of when rather than if.

Kai Havertz ranks fifth in 90min's Welcome to World Class attacking midfielders list. Read more about why Havertz is world class here.

4. Paulo Dybala

Paulo Dybala initially suffered when Juventus invested heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, finding a new attacking focal point. But the Argentine who first arrived in Turin in 2015 has been gradually recapturing his form of old to justify his status as Juve’s ‘jewel’.

In a team that won a ninth consecutive title, Dybala was named Serie A’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ for the 2019/20 season, as well as Player of the Month in July when the title race was decided.

Juve have been ready to sell Dybala in the past, yet there can never be any doubt over the quality he brings and whether it is Juve or another club, whoever he plays for are better because of him.

Paulo Dybala ranks fourth in 90min's Welcome to World Class attacking midfielders list. Read more about why Dybala is world class .

3. Bruno Fernandes

Although it was expected that Bruno Fernandes would improve a Manchester United that struggled for creativity, few could have imagined the scale of the impact he would make on the club – Eric Cantona comparisons are still too soon, but they’re getting increasingly justified.

United originally passed on Fernandes because his creative risk taking was deemed wasteful of possession, yet it was what they needed all along to restore the ‘United way’ of old.

Fernandes can be considered a late bloomer and hasn’t enough chance yet to make his mark in terms of trophies, but the numbers has produced since 2018, both before and since making the move to Old Trafford, are better than any other player in his position.

Bruno Fernandes ranks third in 90min's Welcome to World Class attacking midfielders list. Read more about why Fernandes is world class here.

2. Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller doesn’t look like he should be a world class footballer, but nothing could be further from the truth. He is one of the most decorated players of his generation and has done what all elite players do and has adapted his game over time to remain at the top.

Where Muller was once a prolific goalscorer, peaking at 32 in all competitions in 2015/16 – he scores less often these days, he is now a master of the assist instead and set up as many as 21 in total as Bayern Munich won it all in 2019/20.

Muller has learned better than anyone to play to his own strengths and maximise his impact. He is not a runner or a dribbler, but that doesn’t matter because due to his intelligence and efficiency he's always one step ahead of the game.

Thomas Muller ranks second in 90min's Welcome to World Class attacking midfielders list. Read more about why Muller is world class here.

1. Kevin De Bruyne

There is no better attacking midfielder in the world than Kevin De Bruyne. It is that simple.

Manchester City have enjoyed incredible domestic success in England over the last few seasons, but the Belgian has stood head and shoulders above even his teammates in that time.

De Bruyne has always been very good, but he really hit his stride last season. His tally of 20 assists equalled a Premier League set by modern icon Thierry Henry 17 years earlier and he can see things on the pitch that others just cannot. Equally, he is not bound by any confines of his position and will drift into areas where he can make the biggest impact.

Yet even for one so talented, De Bruyne works incredibly hard too. Ability is one thing, but without the right attitude to make it count you can only go so far.

Kevin De Bruyne ranks first in 90min's Welcome to World Class attacking midfielders list. Read more about why De Bruyne is world class here.

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