Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur broke their club record transfers to sign Rodri and Tanguy Ndombele respectively. The two clubs have bolstered their midfield with these superb additions but how good is their midfield compared to other top European clubs?
#5. Tottenham Hotspur
Last season, Spurs had a lot of injury woes en route to the Champions League final and the injuries often left them short of quality options in midfield. Mauricio Pochettino recognized his team’s weakness in that position and addressed that this summer by signing Tanguy Ndombele for a club-record €62 million from Olympique Lyon.
In addition to the new signing, Pochettino also has Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama as central midfield options. However, the Kenyan is expected to leave this summer.
The highlight of the Spurs midfield are their two attacking midfielders, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. They were signed for a combined fee of only £16 million and the return Spurs have got for their investment is massive. Alli and Eriksen have a combined total of 108 goals and 118 assists for Spurs so far and they’ve both picked up many individual awards for their contributions.
It is rumoured that Spurs want to add more depth to their midfield and the speculations lead to Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos. Even if Spurs don’t sign Ceballos it won’t be a massive blow if they can keep the other stars at the club.
A few years ago when Xavi and Andres Iniesta were in the peak of their career, Barcelona had the best midfield in the world and it wasn’t even a debate. Even though those two talismanic midfielders are no longer at the club, they still have a fantastic midfield.
Sergio Busquets has been the undisputed starting defensive midfielder at the club for over a decade now. He’s still only 30-years-old and can easily continue playing at the top level for a couple more years at least.
The Catalan side’s midfield is a good blend of youth and experience. In addition to Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal also bring a wealth of experience playing in Europe’s top leagues and in the Champions League. These players will need to be phased out in the coming years and for that, Barcelona have added Arthur and Frenkie De Jong.
If that depth isn’t enough, they also have the versatile Philippe Coutinho but the Brazilian’s future at Barcelona is up in the air.
A few years ago, Juventus had a midfield with Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. Even though none of those players are at the club now, Juve still have one of the best midfield in the world and they’ve achieved that by making some astute signings.
Presently, the Serie A giants have seven central midfielders and they spent a combined fee of only €61.5 million (without adding future bonuses) to sign all of those players. That’s significantly less than the fee they received for Paul Pogba.
Sami Khedira, Emre Can, Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey were signed on free transfers and the latter two only joined the club this summer. Their midfield is completed by the highly-rated Rodrigo Bentancur and the experienced Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi.
Maurizio Sarri prefers a three-man midfield and he rarely rotates his starting XI which means some of these world-class players will have to be benched a lot or maybe Juve will consider selling one or two of these players. Even if they do sell someone, they’ll still have a fantastic midfield.
#2. Real Madrid
When Real Madrid won a hat-trick of UEFA Champions League titles under Zinedine Zidane, their starting midfield was Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro. This trio was key to the club’s success under Zidane and in the three consecutive finals, Modric and Casemiro played every minute while Kroos missed only 49 out of 300 minutes.
Zidane’s favourite trio is still at the club and even though the recent Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric is 33-years-old, he’s still indispensable. In addition to these three superstars, Real have the highly-rated Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde as central midfield options as well as the more experienced and versatile Isco.
Even though Real have a fantastic midfield, they’re still linked with a move for Paul Pogba. However, they may not make a move for him unless they sell some superstars. James Rodriguez, another midfielder, is reportedly on his way out to either Napoli or Atletico Madrid while Gareth Bale’s future is still unresolved.
#1. Manchester City
Pep Guardiola is a perfectionist and to play under him, a player has to be exceptional on the ball and Guardiola’s midfield at Manchester City is arguably even better than the one he had at Barcelona because of its depth.
Guardiola led Man City to a record-breaking Premier League title in 2017/18 with a preferred midfield trio of Fernandinho, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. He used the German international Ilkay Gundogan as an option to rotate and rest the others. Last season, De Bruyne was out injured for lengthy periods and he covered for the Belgian by switching Bernardo Silva to a midfield role which was a masterstroke.
City’s midfield only lacked a cover for Fernandinho and Pep addressed that this summer by signing Rodri. In addition to all these players, they also have Phil Foden who was the Golden Ball winner at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Man City’s midfield combined cost comes to nearly £240 million but they’re worth every penny as they’ve played a crucial role in the club’s incredible success in recent years.