The 10 best midfielders going to Euro 2020

What makes a great midfielder?

The ability to make a team tick, the quality to take a game by the scruff of the neck and a keen eye for a pass are all key attributes, but depending on the role asked of them, great midfielders can have a wide and varying skillset.

This means that choosing just ten is a difficult task, but it is one that we at 101 have taken on below.

Keep on reading to see who we think are the 10 best midfielders going to Euro 2020 this summer.


Also in this ‘going to Euro 2020’ series: 10 best goalies | 10 best full-backs | 10 best centre-backs | 10 best strikers


10) Mason Mount (England)

It felt harsh to leave Paul Pogba off this list. But while the Frenchman has been immense at international level historically, his form for Manchester United has been too haphazard.

Instead, this place goes to a player who has been consistently brilliant all season: Chelsea and England’s Mason Mount.

Mount may be only 23-years-old but he has comfortably been Chelsea’s best player this season and has become a mainstay in Gareth Southgate’s midfield, having already made 16 appearances for the Three Lions.

Mason Mount pic.twitter.com/tdLFAqP4OQ

— Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) May 24, 2021

Much like his idol Frank Lampard, Mount possesses a knack for goalscoring, but he is also a strong carrier of the ball, something which has seen him shifted to the left-flank against stronger opposition.

And his eye for a pass isn’t bad either, providing the assist for Kai Havertz’s winning goal in the Champions League final that saw Chelsea become European champions for the second time.

His ability to create from open play is phenomenal, and it seems certain that when it comes to making this list for the 2024 European Championships, he will be much higher up.

9) Declan Rice (England)

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Two English players have made the list.

Strongly linked with a move away from West Ham this summer, Declan Rice is an elegant defensive midfielder.

Rice is smart with his distribution, a neat passer, and he excels at winning the ball back from the opposition. He will form the base of England’s midfield.

Four years ago today, Declan Rice made his debut for West Ham.

130 Premier League appearances. 15 England caps. One of the best DM’s in the country and now leading West Ham towards European football with one game remaining.

What a journey so far. pic.twitter.com/4f97EMIYMk

— Dan Woffenden (@danwoff98) May 21, 2021

Helping West Ham finish in sixth place at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, Rice was immense defensively, allowing the rangy Tomas Soucek to support the attack. Indeed, such was his influence on the side that Kevin Nolan, a Hammers coach, suggested that has he not been injured for the Irons’ run-in they would have finished in the Champions League places.

As Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is heading into the Euros still returning from injury, Rice seems like a certain starter for England during the group phase.

If Rice impresses in those performances, will Henderson even manage to get himself back into the team?

8) Luka Modric (Croatia)

A player coming to the twilight of his career, Luka Modric nevertheless remains a brilliant midfielder.

Modric is the only man to win the Ballon d’Or not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo since 2008, the 35-year-old will be looking to roll back the years again this summer.

Despite his age, Modric still ranks in the top 10% of midfielders for progressive passes, progressive carries and dribbles completed, as per fbref. His qualities on the ball remain undiminished.

Modric was badly exposed in Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Chelsea, but with the more athletic midfielders that Croatia can surround him with, Modric can pull the strings in the middle of the pitch.

With this in all likelihood being the Croat’s final European Championships, Modric will be looking to add an international trophy to his considerable domestic haul, especially after coming so close in 2018.

7) Frenkie De Jong (Netherlands)

Another player off Ajax’s fabled production line, Frenkie De Jong hit the headlines alongside Matthijs De Ligt during Ajax’s 2018/19 Champions League campaign. Putting in some brilliant performances, De Jong ultimately landed a move to Catalan giants Barcelona that summer.

Viewed as a ball-playing defensive midfielder, his role for the Netherlands this summer will be to anchor a midfield likely to contain Gini Wijnaldum and Ryan Gravenberch – both of whom are very happy to bomb forwards.

 

Frenkie de Jong’s stats for Barça 20/21:

Matches played: 37 (started 35/37)
Goals: 7
Assists: 7
Successful passes per game: 92%
Successful dribbles per game: 87%
Tackles per game: 1.2
Big chances created: 9
Key passes per game: 1.3

how would you rate his season? pic.twitter.com/DpYsFybmNJ

— judy✨ (@judyxyy) May 24, 2021

And, it is a role for which the 24-year-old is perfectly suited. De Jong can show off his passing range and his ability to bring the ball out of defence.

Despite Barcelona’s disappointing season, De Jong featured in all but one of their La Liga games, playing in a wide range of positions.

Whilst at club level he is relieved of most defensive duties with the presence of Sergio Busquets behind him, defensive midfield is where De Jong thrived most at Ajax, and where we expect him to thrive this summer.

6) Marco Verratti (Italy)

Marco Verratti has been in and out of the PSG side due to a series of injuries, and he faces a race against time to be fit for the Euro 2020 after straining a medial ligament in his right knee at the beginning of May, which takes between four and six weeks to recover from.

However, if Verratti is even half-fit, he will be in Azzurri XI.

Whenever PSG play European football, Verratti is always the player that surprises fans the most. Capable on the ball and incredibly press-resistant, the diminutive Italian covers almost all of the pitch, allowing the Paris superstars at the top of the pitch free reign.

Italy 2-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina: #Insigne and #Verratti complete the comeback #VivoAzzurro #Azzurri pic.twitter.com/50cj5kHuJj

— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@azzurri) May 25, 2021

Now 28, PSG’s defensive midfielder will be a lynchpin alongside Jorginho for the Azurri this summer.

A player with a brilliant all-round game, on paper he complements the Chelsea man well, and the pair could establish a very effective partnership for the Italians, fitness permitting.

5) Leon Goretzka (Germany)

The first of Germany’s suspected midfield pivot this summer, Leon Goretzka’s star has never shone brighter.

Now 26-years-old, the energetic midfielder has impressed since his move from Schalke to Bayern Munich in 2018, playing a key role in the Champions League final victory over Paris Saint Germain in 2019.

(☀️) Goretzka feels good & will undergo a final MRI scan on Monday. If the result is good, he will travel to Seefeld on Tuesday & join the team training as soon as possible. His big goal remains the opener against France. [@Plettigoal] #FCBayern #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/AJF6b11g5u

— RouteOneFootball (@Route1futbol) May 27, 2021

An aggressive midfielder who excels at winning back possession, Goretzka provides his side with a brilliant all-round game, taking plenty of shots and well-capable of carrying the ball up the pitch when needed.

If Goretzka is indeed fit for Germany’s tricky opening fixture versus France, he will be a welcome sight amongst their ranks.

4) N’Golo Kante (France)

Perhaps one of the most underrated midfielders in the last couple of seasons, N’Golo Kante remains a world-class player, as shown by his performances in the final stages of this season’s Champions League.

Indeed, Kante won the man of the match award in all of Chelsea’s final four matches of the competition against Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid (twice) and Man City.

Kanté:

️ “Everybody knows that Kanté can run for 11 players. He’s everywhere!” @ChelseaFC | #UCLfinal pic.twitter.com/nau9SmGiW5

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 26, 2021

Capable of getting through a huge amount of work in central midfield, Kante ranks in the top 1% of midfielders for interceptions and in the top 10% for both blocks and tackles this season.

His best work comes in a double pivot, which worked so well for France 3 years ago. Once again partnered with Paul Pogba, the pair form a formidable obstacle to any side wanting to take on Les Blues, while Kante’s defensive work allows Pogba to roam more freely and join attacks.

Three Man of the Match awards in his last three #UCL appearances.

N’Golo Kante: the ultimate big game player 🌟#UCLfinal pic.twitter.com/AZvHPnAFmv

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 29, 2021

Kante’s trophy cabinet is immense. At club level, he’s won the Premier League winner with both Leicester City and Chelsea, and now a Champions League winner too

On the international stage, Kante has lifted the 2018 World Cup, and now he’s looking to complete his set with the European Championship.

On the eve of Euro 2020, it’s customary to hear that Kante is a shoo-in for the Ballon d’Or if France lift the trophy on July 11.

3) Joshua Kimmich (Germany)

It is expected that Joshua Kimmich will partner his clubmate Leon Goretzka in the centre of Germany’s midfield this summer, and in truth the former right-back could have found himself further up this list.

Only 26, Kimmich has already amassed 52 caps for the senior national side, whilst he is also a mainstay of Bayern Munich’s midfield.

He doesn’t score as much as other midfielders may, contributing just 4 goals for the German champions this season, but like others on this list, he possesses an elite ability to progress the ball up the pitch.

Kimmich is world-class and so high on our lift because he’s always a 7 or 8 out of 10. He’ a model of consistency, and that’s priceless in international football.

JOSHUA KIMMICH THAT’S STUNNING pic.twitter.com/ut41SFIW6K

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 22, 2021

2) Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)

What an impact Bruno Fernandes has had at Manchester United.

Coming into a side finding themselves eighth in the Premier League 18 months ago, he has averaged a goal or assist every 97 minutes in the two campaigns he has taken part in.

This return has been enough to help United to 3rd and 2nd place in the Premier League in the last two seasons. Although, some are still questioning Bruno’s impact at the very highest level.

Those super-harsh critics point to Bruno’s record against the big 6 last year, and his below-par performance in the Europa League final.

His quality in the final third, however, cannot be doubted, with no midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues matching his goal tally this campaign.

Bruno Fernandes has scored more @EuropaLeague goals (19) than any other player since his debut in 2018.

Tonight, he can make it 20 and lift the trophy 🏆pic.twitter.com/iQIe7023ar

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 26, 2021

Fernandes will have no better chance to remove that criticism than this summer, as he features in a star-studded Portugal side including Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota, as well as defenders Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias.

His talents will be sorely needed too, with the Portuguese having been drawn into a very tricky group with both Germany and France, as well as outsiders Hungary.

1) Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)

The man carrying Belgium’s hopes of Euro 2020 glory, Kevin De Bruyne should be the creative hub for Roberto Martinez’s side. However, a facial injury in the Champions League final has left his participation in the tournament slightly in doubt.

The Belgian is expected to be available for at least the knockout rounds, but may miss the first couple of group games for the Red Devils.

De Bruyne is arguably the best midfielder in world football, the Manchester City creator is coming off the back of another fantastic season.

Kevin De Bruyne confirmed he suffered an acute nose bone fracture and left orbital fracture during Saturday’s Champions League final.

Belgium’s first Euro 2020 match is in 13 days 🙏 pic.twitter.com/PNJz8xVHxx

— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 30, 2021

Although he has made just 25 Premier League appearances for the Citizens, De Bruyne has returned 6 goals and 12 assists. He also provided 7 goal contributions in 8 Champions League games.

Those statistics fail to account for his ability to carry the ball up the pitch effectively, where according to fb.ref he ranks in the top 2% of midfielders worldwide.

De Bruyne’s performances have been key to Manchester City’s completion of a domestic double, and it was noticeable that the Citizens struggled as a result of his poor performance in the Champions League final.

Now 29-years-old, De Bruyne is at the peak of his career. His link-up with Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku could prove vital to any chances the Belgians have of winning silverware this summer.


Summary: 10 best midfielders going to Euro 2020

  • Mason Mount
  • Declan Rice
  • Luka Modric
  • Frenkie De Jong
  • Marco Verratti
  • Leon Goretzka
  • N’Golo Kante
  • Joshua Kimmich
  • Bruno Fernandes
  • Kevin De Bruyne

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