The World's Top 12 Attacking Midfielders This Season
A good attacking midfielder can make the difference between mid-table and the title for a football club. Whether a central playmaker, winger or support for the front men, these players make up one of the key positions on the pitch.
It is no surprise then to see that most of the teams who have started 2013/14 with a bang from impeccable service in the middle. Here is a look at just a handful of the midfield dynamos who have been impressing in the opening three months of the season and what has made them so effective.
12. Maxi Rodriguez
Many may have thought that Maxi Rodriguez's career was winding down when, in 2012, he announced his decision to leave Liverpool and go back to hometown club Newell's Old Boys. Just like Juan Sebastian Veron before him, however, the forward-minded midfielder has proven that he still had some gas left in the tank.
A series of brilliant performances helped the Argentine club to the 2013 title and a semi-final berth in that year's Copa Libertadores; with 11 games gone in the Inicial tournament, Newell's are well on course to claim a second straight championship in December.
Maxi has contributed five goals already this season and two more for the Argentina team against Uruguay on Tuesday, he looks likely to make the cut for the 2014 World Cup if he can keep up current form.
11. Aaron Ramsey
A telling statistic for Aaron Ramsey: Eight of his 19 career goals for Arsenal have come in the 11 games he has played during the 2013/14 season. The Welsh wizard, at 22 years old, is maturing into an indispensable player for the Gunners capable of taking on the best in England and Europe.
Playing on the right wing, Ramsey has thrived alongside the elegant brilliance of Mesut Ozil and enjoying the quality of possession given by the Germany international in the final third to become a more potent scorer than ever before.
10. Andres D'Alessandro
Argentine playmaker Andres D'Alessandro, unwanted and passed around several clubs during his time in Europe, decided in 2008 to make his mark in Brazil, moving to Porto Alegre giants Internacional. Five years later, the former River Plate wonderkid continues to prove he is one of the most talented players in the entire Brasileirao.
Nine goals and eight assists (the highest of any player) have helped Inter to have a fighting chance of a Copa Libertadores place for the coming year, as the club is eight points behind fourth-placed Botafogo with nine games to play.
9. Franck Ribery
Such is the quality of Bayern Munich's squad and the ability for any player to enter and perform to an exceptionally high standard that it is difficult to single out any particular star. France international Ribery, however, has been in brilliant form as Die Roten have gone straight to the top of the Bundesliga.
Three goals and three assists have been crucial for the Bavarians to get there, as the winger has helped the likes of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara settle in at the Allianz Arena.
Pep Guardiola's Bayern have not looked quite as unstoppable as in that last, unforgettable season under Jupp Heynckes, but with talented, hungry professionals like Ribery around, they will be a formidable prospect for any opposition.
8. Cesc Fabregas
Cesc's position in Barcelona has often appeared somewhat uncertain. Often used as a replacement for Lionel Messi in the false-nine position, the ex-Arsenal man struggled to produce his best form when sporadically used and shifted around the pitch.
Injury to the Argentine has given Fabregas an extended run in the team during 2013/14, an opportunity he has grabbed with both hands. Both he and fellow Barca struggler Alexis Sanchez have been reborn, seeing the goals and assists flow as Barcelona start the league season with a 100 percent record.
Things are looking fairly bleak at the Santiago Bernabeu. As well as trailing Barcelona by five points already in La Liga, Real Madrid have the added indignity of seeing city rivals Atletico start with a 100 percent record and join the Blaugrana at the top of the table.
The quick integration of young versatile midfielder Isco into the side is one of the few bright spots so far for Carlo Ancelotti's charges.
Tasked with the unexpected duty of replacing Mesut Ozil once it became clear the playmaker would be sacrificed in order to bring in Gareth Bale, the former Malaga man has enjoyed a far better start to life in the capital than the Welsh winger. With four goals so far, only Cristiano Ronaldo has managed more in the Blanco shirt.
6. Alessio Cerci
From an early age Alessio Cerci was tagged for greatness. Unfortunately though, things never quite came together for the Roma midfielder, who in seven years for the capital club made just a handful of appearances and was shipped out on loan across Italy.
Now 26, the rapid winger is finally finding the form all believed he was capable of at Torino, topping the Serie A scoring charts with six goals so far.
Pushed into a more central role, playing off sole striker Ciro Immobile, Cerci is enjoying the new freedom of his role, with his goals vital to a Granate side that has showed mixed displays in 2013/14.
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has an impeccable eye for underrated talent. He brought both Ilkay Gundogan and Robert Lewandowski to BVB for knockdown prices, to name just two, and watched his team became one of the most formidable in Europe.
With former Saint-Etienne winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it looks like the canny tactician has struck again.
The Gabon international, who moved to Dortmund for an undisclosed fee in the transfer window, has made an instant impact. Five goals and two assists so far in the Bundesliga has helped his club become the highest-scoring in the league and keeping up the chase of Bayern Munich.
4. Mesut Ozil
While Real Madrid have toiled without the German playmaking genius, Arsenal are very much enjoying what Mesut Ozil brings to their team. The North Londoners have gone straight to the top of the table after seven games, and their new acquisition has already proved vital on several occasions.
In just six appearances for Arsenal, the former Madrid man has contributed one goal and four assists, making him the most prolific provider in the entire Premier League. Three goals in Germany's last four World Cup qualifiers, meanwhile, helped confirm the inevitable and book the nation's passage to Brazil 2014.
Somehow, Atletico Madrid managed to shake off the loss of Colombian goal machine Radamel Falcao and come out a better unit. The partnership between powerful forward Diego Costa and young sensation Koke has been a big part of how Diego Simeone's men have picked up 24 points out of 24 so far.
The 21-year-old midfielder is tied with Cesc Fabregas at the head of the Liga assist table with six; it's a figure that barely does justice to his superb range of passing and vision that allows him to pick out team-mates with ease.
He and Costa put in superb displays to push Atletico to a derby victory over Real Madrid, cutting an awful run of league form against the Merengue with a 1-0 victory.
2. Marco Reus
After Mario Gotze left Borussia Dortmund for fellow Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich, it was fair to wonder how BVB would cope without their young star. The response from the likes of Marco Reus has shown that they had little to worry about.
The former Monchengladbach winger has contributed four goals and three assists in just eight appearances, firing Dortmund to within one point of Pep Guardiola's team at the summit of the German league. With striker Robert Lewandowski also in deadly form, BVB will be competitive throughout the season against their rivals from Bavaria.
1. Francesco Totti
The current season could have been a tough one for Roma, having lost forwards Erik Lamela and Daniel Osvaldo to English football after a mediocre campaign in 2012/13. Thankfully though, they could count on evergreen Francesco Totti who, even at 37, continues to prove why he is one of the best in Serie A.
Playing in his habitual trequartista role, Totti has quite simply been untouchable as Roma have racked up seven straight victories to top Serie A two points ahead of Napoli and Juventus. The veteran maestro has set up six goals and hit a further three of his own, including a wonderful double as Inter were taken apart 3-0.