Top 5 midfielders of 2011

Five midfielders who ruled the roost for their respective sides in 2011.

Barcelona vs AC Milan: Xavi, Gianluca Zambrotta

We pay tribute to the men who made us 'ooh and ahh' throughout the year with their bone crushing tackling, sublime passing and, of course, eye for goal as well.

Please take these lists in the spirit they are written in i.e. to have a bit of fun and cheer as we usher in the New Year.


Top 5 defenders of 2011

Top 5 goalkeepers of 2011

2011 in Football: A turbulent year Part 1

2011 in Football: A turbulent year Part 2

2011 in NBA: Unexpected heroes

2011 in F1: Vettel in fine fettle

2011 in Rugby: All Blacks reign supreme

2011 in Tennis: The Year of the Joker

2011 in Golf: Winds of change

2011: The Flashback Calendar Part 1

2011: The Flashback Calendar Part 2

2011: In Memory


In no particular order, here are ESPNSTAR.com's top five midfielders of 2011.

Scott Parker (West Ham & Tottenham, England)

Every team needs a Scott Parker in their starting XI. We rightly marvel at the majestic midfield skills of Xavi for Barcelona but Parker is - in his own right - a world class midfielder all the same. Played just in front of the defence, there are few better defensive midfielders in world football at the moment than the Englishman.

Parker played the first half of 2011 with West Ham United but despite his best efforts - he was voted 'Footballer of the Year' by the Football Writers' Association - the club was relegated at the end of the 2010/11 season. Parker then moved to Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the current campaign and has been a vital addition to Harry Redknapp's side.

Parker may not score many goals or get you many assists but he does win you games with his ability to stifle the opponent's attack.

Xavi (Barcelona, Spain)

Xavi is the man who puts Barcelona's tiki-taka philosophy into practice on the pitch - and he has the medals and trophies to prove it works.

It was not surprising to see Xavi play an instrumental role in helping Barcelona to titles in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in 2011.

For so long in his career the midfield maestro never got the recognition he deserved but with Spain's continued dominance of the international game - in contrast to Argentina's failings despite having a certain Lionel Messi at their disposal - Xavi is finally being considered by some as the world's best player currently.

His passing is obviously excellent, but then many players are just as good at that as he is. What actually makes Xavi go a notch above his peers is his intelligence on the football pitch. His movement is second to none and he always gives his team-mates the right passing line - he is prone to making team-mates look better than they really are.

David Silva (Manchester City, Spain)

David Silva is a playmaker of the highest order and his performances for Manchester City in the 2010/11 season earned him high praise from then club captain Carlos Tevez who called the Spaniard "the best signing" the club had made.

Form is temporary and class is permanent, and Silva continued to inspire Roberto Mancini's men well into the current campaign and he is the favourite to land the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in 2012.

If Manchester City did nothing else right for the rest of the season, Silva would still be loved by the club's supporters in the years to come. This is because the midfielder orchestrated the single most significant league result in the club's recent history - a 6-1 derby demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford in October 2011.

What is it about Spanish football and world class midfielders?

Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund, Germany)

It's scary to think that Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Gotze is only 19 years old. Far from being the finished midfield article, Gotze is already a champion in Germany after playing a pivotal role in Dortmund's run to the Bundesliga title last season.

Blessed with a combination of speed, technical ability and creativity, Gotze is on the watch list of practically every major club in European football. No wonder German legend Matthias Sammer called the attacking midfielder "one of the best talents Germany has ever seen".

Count on him to get even better in 2012.

Juan Mata (Valencia & Chelsea, Spain)

Juan Mata has been called many things - a midfield magician, a creative spark. Here's another description to ponder: Indispensable.

Former Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea are keen to bring the glory days back to Stamford Bridge but with many of the club's stars on the wane, Mata has emerged as the key man for the Blues' title bid.

Equally adept at operating on the flank as he is down the middle, Mata has equaled goals and assists for the Blues this season.



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