Welcome to World Class: The Top 5 Central Midfielders - Ranked

Dec 23, 2020, 5:00 PM GMT
The five central midfielders inducted into 90min's Welcome to World Class 2020. #W2WC
The five central midfielders inducted into 90min's Welcome to World Class 2020. #W2WC | Matt Burt/90min
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We are now past the halfway mark in 90min's Welcome to World Class series.

After ranking the world's best goalkeepers, full-backs, centre-backs and defensive midfielders, we are now onto the central midfield position - one of the most crucial roles on the pitch.

There are many different ways to operate in the middle of the park but generally modern day CMs need to possess playmaking, physicality and intelligence to excel.

Here are the five players that (according to our innovative metric) do all that to a world class level in 2020.

5. Gini Wijnaldum

From relegation fodder with Newcastle to an English, European and even world champion with Liverpool. Gini Wijnaldum has had some career.

In terms of natural talent, there were many players better than him on our shortlist. However, his intelligence, work rate and discipline make him irreplaceable in the Reds midfield.

He is also a man for the big occasion, evidenced by his memorable quick-fire double against Barcelona in the Champions League, which kickstarted his side's incredible comeback.

His route to the top may not have been conventional but make no mistake, Wijnaldum is 100% world class.

Gini Wijnaldum ranks fifth in 90min's Welcome to World Class central midfielders list. Read more about why Wijnaldum is world class here

4. Leon Goretzka

Leon Goretzka has had nothing handed to him during his career.

Whether it be injury, illness, or managers playing him out of position, he has always had to fight for his spot at the game's top table. However, ever since he transformed himself into the most stacked man alive™ during lockdown, Goretzka has looked indestructible.

He soon established himself as a vital cog in Hansi Flick's well oiled midfield and was ever present as Bayern Munich romped to a historic treble last season.

Now he has finally proved to everyone that he deserves to be called world class, do not expect him to let up anytime soon.

Leon Goretzka ranks fourth in 90min's Welcome to World Class central midfielders list. Read more about why Goretzka is world class here.

3. Jordan Henderson

Some people still stubbornly refuse to accept that Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is world class. These people, we're sorry to say, are completely wrong.

Without Henderson in the team, the Reds are nowhere near the same devastating prospect. He plugs holes that no one else sees and gets through an unholy amount of underappreciated legwork for his team.

Henderson is a born leader, a thoroughly talented operator who inspires a similar level of performance from those around him.

Forget what the haters say. He is world class.

Jordan Henderson ranks third in 90min's Welcome to World Class central midfielders list. Read more about why Henderson is world class here.

2. Thiago Alcantara

World class players like Thiago Alcantara make everything look easy.

Whether its a probing through ball, pinpoint long pass or a sumptuous first touch, Thiago pulls it all off without breaking into a sweat.

The elegant midfielder has had his injury problems, sure, but when he is fully fit, there are few players more creative than him on the planet.

Bubbling with Barcelona DNA, there is a reason that Pep Guardiola insisted on signing him when he took over at Bayern in 2013. After arriving, he won the Bundesliga in each of his seven seasons, as well as a Champions League earlier this year.

Thiago Alcantara ranks second in 90min's Welcome to World Class central midfielders list. Read more about why Thiago is world class here.

1. Toni Kroos

Here he is, the central midfielder most deserving of the label, 'world class'.

Toni Kroos has been at the heart of three of the most successful club and international sides of the last decade. Namely, Bayern Munich 2012-2014, Germany 2014 and Real Madrid 2015-2018.

His trophy haul is nothing short of ridiculous, much like his skill set. Anything that can be reasonably expected of a footballer can be performed by Kroos to an elite level. Passing, shooting, tackling - he can do it all.

The 30-year-old is entering the final act of his incredible career now but show no signs of slowing down and looks set to cement his position at the world's best central midfielder for years to come.

Toni Kroos ranks first in 90min's Welcome to World Class central midfielders list. Read more about why Kroos is world class here.

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