The Best Midfielders in the World – 2011 Edition

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    Part IV of our best-by-position posts for the new year, here are the top 6 central midfielders in the World right now. Some players like Kaka or Gerrard missed the cut this time because being injured half of the time and not playing great the rest of it beats past achievements. Right now, they don’t have a place among the world’s elite. If they get their groove back, that might change.

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    Number 6 – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich and Germany

    He began as a teenage sensation playing on the wings but has matured and developed into one of the best central midfielders in Europe, leading the German midfield in their fantastic 2010 World Cup and Bayern’s nearly perfect 2009-2010 campaign. With a wicked long range shot and a much better understanding of the central role he now plays, Schweini is the center piece of the German national team for at least 4-5 years. Whether it’ll be while he’s playing with Bayern or not remains to be seen.

    Number 5 – Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid and Germany

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    Forget his age. Ozil is the real deal. Anyone who saw him during the 2009 U-21 Euro tournament knew this kid is going to be special. Watching him with Bremen last year, in the World Cup during the summer and how he has quickly adapted to life at Madrid this season, you know he’s special. When he’s in the box with the ball, he always makes the right decisions and his stat sheet, with 5 goals and 7 assists proves how important he is to Real. He does need to bulk up a bit and be more consistent as he tends to disappear during matches at times, but Ozil is clearly on his way to become a superstar for years to come. Lets just hope that Kaka’s return, which hasn’t been a huge success so far, won’t hamper Ozil’s season.

    Number 4 – Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal and Spain

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    Two question remain regarding Fabrgeas – When will he be wearing a Barcelona shirt, and can he win a league title with Arsenal before he returns to Spain. Had a fantastic 2009-2010 season with 15 league goals while, as usual, missing more than 10 matches due to injury, as Arsenal players tend to do. He set up Iniesta’s World Cup winning goal and despite some criticism from inside the team regarding his leadership skills, Fabregas is the motor and the best thing Arsenal have. His scoring isn’t going that well this season (3 goals), but when he’s on the pitch, almost anything good for Arsenal begins with him.

    Number 3 – Wesley Sneijder, Inter Milan and the Netherlands

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    It wasn’t the greatest start to the season from Sneijder under Rafa Benitez and the injury he’s currently suffering from, probably a case of an enormous work load in 2010 has kept him out of the whole Inter resurgence under the new head coach. Still, when healthy, few are as good as the Dutchman is. He was fantastic for Real Madrid before head coaches started moving him around, but was truly fantastic after arriving at Inter. His leadership, passing skills and long range shooting ability make him a constant threat but like most of the talented ones in the middle of the park does disappear from matches at times. More focus from him and Robben in front of goal at the World Cup final might have been a perfect 2010 for Sneijder, who should have won player of the year honours from FIFA.

    Number 2 – Andres Iniesta, Barcelona and Spain

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    Although it’s hard to separate Iniesta from Xavi, we shall for ranking purposes. The 2009-2010 season wasn’t great for Iniesta, but scoring the winning goal in the World Cup Final and immediately becoming the most popular player in every pitch Barcelona visit thanks to his Dani Jarque tribute turned things around and Iniesta, along with the usual culprits at Barca (including the next man), are making an amazing run at every title possible while slaughtering any team in their path in the La Liga. He is playing his best football of his career so far in 2010-2011 with 7 goals and 3 assists, becoming a much bigger threat on goal instead of just a passing threat like before. Alongside Messi, the Barcelona MVP this season.

    Number 1 – Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona and Spain

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    The second part of that two-headed monster in Barcelona’s midfield. Recently becoming Barcelona’s most capped player of all-time (currently with 556 in all competitions), Xavi, just before his 30th birthday, is the epitome of how a play maker should be. Almost every decision he makes to pass and distribute the ball is spot on. Along with Iniesta, while everyone is moving around, he orchestrates it perfectly in fantastic timing. He’s not a scoring threat as many others, but Barcelona have some many players who can score, there’s no need really. Alongside Sneijder, was the best player in the world in 2010.