This article has picked the top 25 midfielders in Europe this season via a combination of objective and subjective analysis.
The power ranking is based entirely on a midfielder’s form throughout the season not his past reputation.
Some media graphics have Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, Michu, Marouane Fellaini, Alexander Meier, et al. as midfielders when they should be categorised as forwards.
Last 10 Long-List Cuts
Nemanja Matić (Benfica), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nürnberg), Mikel Arteta (Arsenal), Szabolcs Huszti (Hannover 96), Borja Valero (Fiorentina), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven).
Explaining Big-Name Omissions
Ángel di María (Real Madrid): Defines inconsistency.
Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich): Has only started 31 percent of league games. However, he’s been world-class when he has played.
Beñat (Real Betis): Commits some of the most mindbogglingly stupid fouls you'll ever see in football. He claims the uncertainty over his future has been a factor in his recent decline (via Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC).
Cesc Fábregas (Barcelona): Last November, he was considered one of the most in-form midfielders but has since gone missing for extended periods.
David Silva (Manchester City): Not a lot of separating his performances from Fulham's Damien Duff, who didn’t even make my long-list.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea): Has underperformed for the Blues compared to last season with Lille. His high upside suggests he will become a world-class footballer in the coming seasons.
Etienne Capoue (Toulouse): So many stray passes from the Frenchman, who is supposed to be a pivot, but has left holes at the back charging forwards (when he shouldn’t be doing so). It seems he wants to be like Moussa Sissoko, who has found his niche as a deep-lying forward for Newcastle United.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea): Been asked to play as a defensive midfielder but has overruled management and started himself as an attacking midfielder. In doing so, it screws up the team's shape. Being the top scorer for the club in league games indicates that management were originally in the wrong.
Isco (Málaga): Scored in three successive weeks and then went missing in action for a month. It sums up his season thus far.
Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich): He played better for Athletic Bilbao but this time next season, he should be one of the best defensive midfielders in the game.
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea): Nigeria base their team around him and he was elite at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Blues do everything to hinder Mikel like playing an attacking midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder as a partner in midfield.
Lukas Podolski (Arsenal): The German has done exceptionally well in a role he dislikes. He wants to be the No. 9 hence why he moved back to Köln, where he became one of Europe’s most lethal strikers. Statistically, Lukas is excellent but he isn’t a prolific crosser, very predictable due to his heavy dependency on his left foot and tends to go missing for most of the game.
Oscar (Chelsea): Loves playing in the UEFA Champions League (especially vs. Gianluigi Buffon) but has been hit and miss at league level.
Ramires (Chelsea): He’s a box-to-box midfielder, not a pivot. It’s stupid that the Blues want to strip away his strongest trait (lung-bursting runs).
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid): Has regressed since his Stuttgart days where he was an exciting box-to-box midfielder. Now, he’s a safe and limited holding midfielder under José Mourinho.
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United): Yet to replicate Borussia Dortmund form.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal): His statistics are heavily diluted by spending a significant portion of the season as a centre forward. As soon as he signed the extension, he was thrown back out wide. Needs to study Thomas Müller in terms of making smartest decisions because Theo has no plan B as a winger. What do Walcott and Podolski have in common? They’re centre forwards forced out wide.
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United): Metronomic passing ability but needs to get stuck in more.
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid): Makes the most passes per game at the club, though gives away the ball 17.8 percent of the time. His defensive positioning is suspect hence having the most yellow cards on the team. Hasn’t been vintage Xabi.
Yaya Touré (Manchester City): How can he be called box-to-box if he ignores his defensive duties? 1.1 tackles per game should not warrant a four-year extension. 1.1 dribbles per game proves his trademark runs haven’t been effective this season.
With his agent Dimitri Seluk speaking out last month, perhaps the Ivorian's mind has been distracted for most of this season, which would explain the dramatic decrease in his statistics.
Now that Yaya can potentially earn £240,000 per-week on performance-related clauses (per Mark Ogden at The Telegraph), he went beast mode on Chelsea and ran the show like he should have done all season for City.