Who is the best attacking midfielder in the world?
Is he French? Brazilian? Spanish? Argentine?
There is always great interest and discussion about declaring the top players at their respective positions. Whether ranking goalkeepers or strikers, the world wants to know who is the best.
Although there are many lists ranking the top players, the criteria often changes and creates major controversy.
Reputation, past performance, injuries and current form have all been determining factors in player rankings.
This list is the seventh of an entire series. From goalkeepers to managers, it will rank the top 10 men at their positions.
Players will be ranked by their abilities and contributions on the pitch, not by their teams' performance. For example, Barcelona's Victor Valdés rarely lets in goals for the European and Spanish champions. Despite his impressive record, he finds himself behind Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina in Spain's pecking order. His individual abilities and displays do not warrant a top-five spot on the goalkeeper list.
Players will not be judged by their special games or memorable moments, but by their consistent level of top form. For example, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney will be ranked according to his form over the latter stages of 2011's campaign. He will not be judged by his terrible form post-injury, which carried into the beginning of this season.
Injuries will have no impact on the list. For example, Arsenal's Robin van Persie will be ranked according to his performances for the Gunners this season. He has been plagued by injuries in recent years, but he will be judged by his level of play when fit.
Note: Players who have just retired, such as Edwin Van der Sar and Paul Scholes, will not be included in this series.
This is the seventh installment of a series of football power rankings.
Here are the top 10 attacking midfielders in the world.
Christian Eriksen - Ajax
Clint Dempsey - Fulham
Ryan Giggs - Manchester United
Borja Valero - Villareal
Ganso - Santos
Keisuke Honda - CSKA Moscow
Kevin-Prince Boateng - AC Milan
Shinji Kagawa - Borussia Dortmund
Toni Kroos - Bayern Munich
Ronaldinho - Flamengo
Ander Herrera - Athletic Bilbao
Douglas Costa - Shakhtar Donetsk
Andrea Cossu - Cagliari
Miralem Pjanic - Lyon
Diego - Wolfsburg
Name: Mario Götze
Club: Borussia Dortmund
International Caps: 6
After a breakout 2010-11 campaign with Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, Götze has been touted as one of Germany's brightest young talents and future stars. The attacking midfielder played a significant role in the club's domestic triumph, contributing six goals and 15 assists in his first full season of top-flight football. Only 19 years of age, Götze has already made six appearances for the German national team.
The Dortumund playmaker has exceptional technical ability. His combination of dribbling skill and speed makes him a serious threat when running at defenders. With his quick change of pace and ball control, Götze can evade markers and beat defenders in one-on-one situations.
In addition to his accomplished dribbling ability, the German starlet has a great range of passing and football intelligence. He can pick out teammates with incisive through-balls, or play short passes around the box.
Although the Dortmund midfielder is still a teenager, he already shows a good feel for the appropriate weight and timing of passes. Götze has the creativity and vision of a top-quality attacking midfielder. He can create opportunities off the dribble or split the defense with a killer pass.
Götze may be in the early stages of his development as a footballer, but he was a standout performer in Germany last season, and looks set to become an elite playmaker over the next few years.
At 19 years of age, Götze is the youngest player on the list. Although the Dortmund starlet has not received the same recognition as other top attacking midfielders, he is one of the top 10 players at the position due to his dribbling skill, pace and passing ability.
Götze has the talent and potential to challenge for a top-five spot in the near future. He does not have any glaring weaknesses in his game, but his lack of experience and size keep him from moving higher in the rankings.
Although the youngster was sensational for Dortmund last season, the midfielders above him have shown world-class ability over multiple years and regularly faced world-class opposition.
Götze climbs above Eriksen and Dempsey with his consistent level of top form, pace and passing. The 19-year-old Danish starlet looks set to become an elite playmaker as well, and shows slightly more composure on the ball. However, Götze excelled against tougher opposition last season and is a more dynamic threat with the ball at his feet.
Dempsey has been in sensational form for Fulham, consistently scoring more than 10 goals per season in the EPL. Although the American is capable of producing spectacular goals, Götze has much more accomplished passing ability and creates more opportunities for teammates.
The Dortmund starlet has endured a meteoric rise in German football. With his skill and continued development, Götze will undoubtedly contend for a top spot in the future.
Name: Yoann Gourcuff
International Caps: 28
Since returning to Ligue 1 in 2008, Gourcuff has emerged as one of the best attacking midfielders in football. The Lyon star has drawn comparisons with France legend Zinedine Zidane due to his natural position and style of play. Although he does not compete in an elite domestic league like the EPL or Serie A, Gourcuff is a world-class talent.
The Frenchman's technique and creativity distinguishes him as a top-quality playmaker. Gourcuff has a delicate touch on the ball and a good range of passing.
The Lyon star has a great eye for a pass, and is capable of splitting multiple defenders with a killer through-ball. Gourcuff boasts exceptional inventiveness and ingenuity, which makes him unpredictable when in possession. The Frenchman can create space for others with a clever backheel, or pick out a teammate cutting across the back line.
Gourcuff reads the game well, and has a good feel for the timing and weight of passes. The playmaker's creativity and ability to find the right pass sets him apart from the majority of attacking midfielders.
Although he can create opportunities with his vision, Gourcuff has the technical ability to score as well. The Frenchman is a serious threat from distance, as he can shoot with both power and precision. He has the quality to produce spectacular goals from long range.
Gourcuff has developed into a top-quality, traditional No. 10 and one of the top attacking midfielders in football.
The Lyon star may not play for one of the elite European clubs, but he has the skill to be considered amongst the best playmaking midfielders in Europe. Gourcuff lands at No. 9 due to his exemplary technique, creativity and shooting ability.
Although he has all the tools to break into the top five, Gourcuff's slight dip in form keeps him from climbing higher in the rankings. In addition, the other midfielders on the list have excelled playing in some of Europe's most difficult leagues. He has the talent to be one of the top attacking midfielders in football, but he needs to improve his consistency against tougher opposition.
Gourcuff moves above Eriksen and Götze with his outstanding technical ability. Although both youngsters have the potential to challenge for a higher spot in the future, the Frenchman has shown that he can create for others and score breathtaking goals as well. The two starlets have undeniable talent, but Gourcuff is a more accomplished playmaker.
The French international has the skill to become one of the best attacking midfielders in the world over the next few years. Although he has yet to regain his unbelievable Bordeaux form with Lyon, Gourcuff is still an exceptionally talented footballer and deserving of the No. 9 ranking.
Club: Real Madrid
International Caps: 82
Over the past few years, Kaká has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the world. The 2007 Ballon d'Or winner had a stellar career with former club AC Milan, which included a UEFA Champions League title and FIFA Club World Cup trophy. Although he has struggled to recapture his best form wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid, the Brazilian remains a world-class attacking midfielder.
Kaká has all the qualities of an ideal trequartista. He is an exceptionally skillful and talented playmaker, with exemplary vision and composure. The Brazilian has a great eye for a pass, and the ability to unlock defenses with perfectly weighted through-balls.
The Madrid star sees openings in behind the opposiiton, and has the quality to play the inch-perfect pass. His vision and intelligence mark him as an elite playmaker.
Kaká has great technical skill and close control on the ball. He does not use stepovers and tricks to beat defenders, but good touch and a slight change of pace. Although he has lost half a step due to knee problems, Kaká can still evade markers and penetrate into the final third with his fluid movement.
The Brazilian's shooting separates him from most gifted attacking midfielders. Kaká has the striking technique to score from in and around the area. He can be clinical in front of goal with his curling shots to the far corner.
Kaká was the best footballer in the planet in 2007, and he is still an elite attacking midfielder.
Although seemingly past his prime, the Madrid star remains one of the top playmakers in Europe. Kaká claims the No. 8 spot with his incisive passing, intelligence and shooting ability.
The Brazilian used to be the best attacking midfielder in the world, but his overall form has noticeably declined over the past few years.
With his loss of pace and struggle to stay sharp, Kaká cannot move higher on the list. Although he still has the technique and skill to compete with the best midfielders in football, he lacks the consistent level of top form to move up in the rankings.
Kaká climbs above Götze and Gourcuff with his composure in the final third, skill and shooting technique. While the German has been in great form for Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, the Madrid star reads the game better and has an excellent shot.
Although Gourcuff has similar qualities as a traditional No. 10, Kaká edges out the Frenchman with his more accomplished passing and playmaking abilities.
Kaká has struggled to live up to his €69 million transfer fee, but he still has the technical ability of a world-class attacking midfielder.
Name: Marek Hamšík
International Caps: 46
The Napoli star has become one of the brightest talents in Serie A, and arguably Europe's most complete attacking midfielder. Hamšík was named Slovakia national team captain for the 2010 World Cup, and has assumed the vice-captaincy at club level as well. He has been in great form for both club and country, emerging as a dynamic and well-rounded midfielder.
Hamšík is an exceptionally gifted footballer. The Slovakian captain boasts great technique and skill. He has the trickery, ball control, and change of pace to beat defenders off the dribble, making him a threat when isolated in one-on-one situations.
The Napoli midfielder has a great range of passing, with the ability to hit the long cross-field diagonal or play the incisive pass through defenders. The Slovakian is comfortable playing with both feet, which opens more passing angles and makes him more unpredictable on the ball.
Hamšík can dictate play with his passing skill and vision. He does well to keep possession for the team and find the simple pass, but has the ability to find teammates with a raking through-ball.
Although he can distribute the ball and spread the play, the Slovakian captain can score goals from midfield as well. Hamšík has scored more than 10 goals in each of the last two seasons. He possesses a good shot from distance as well. Given space and time on the ball, the midfielder can test opposition keepers and find the back of the net.
Hamšík's work-rate and determination sets him apart from the majority of attackers. He works hard to win back possession, closing down opponents and pressuring the ball high up the pitch.
With his unique skill-set, the Napoli star has developed into a world-class attacking midfielder.
After impressive displays for club and country, Hamšík has solidified his place amongst the world's best players at the position. He lands at No. 7 due to his skill, range of passing and well-balanced style of play.
Hamšík is arguably the most complete attacking midfielder in Europe. However, he can drift in and out of matches, which keeps him from climbing higher in the rankings. The Slovakian has the talent and intangibles to break into the top five, but the other midfielders have more polished passing skills and creativity.
The Napoli star moves about Gourcuff and Kaká with his consistent level of top form and all-action displays in midfield. Although the Frenchman is a more traditional playmaker with his creativity and technique, Hamšík has been in better form, scored more goals in the past few seasons, and showed good determination to regain possession.
Kaká has the world-class skill and intelligence to move above the Slovakian, but Hamšík edges out the Madrid star with his outstanding form and contributions on both sides of the ball.
Still only 24 years of age, the Slovakian captain is undoubtedly a special talent and deserving of the No. 7 ranking on the list.
Name: Javier Pastore
International Caps: 10
After two sensational seasons with Palermo, the Argentine is arguably the most sought-after young talent in Europe. The attacking midfielder has earned rave reviews for his graceful style of play, drawing comparisons to former Serie A stars Kaká and Zidane. Only 22 years old, Pastore has already developed into a world-class playmaker.
The Argentine's movement in the final third has become a trademark of his game. Pastore excels playing in the hole as a traditional No. 10, where he has the freedom to drift into pockets of space. His composure on the ball and simple passing style make him one of the most elegant attacking midfielders in football.
Pastore boasts world-class technical ability and skill. The Palermo playmaker has a delicate first touch and exemplary close control. With his reading of the game and skill, the Argentine can side-step challenges and glide past defenders with ease.
He can create opportunities for himself off the dribble, or open space for others with his awareness and intelligent movement.
Pastore's passing and vision distinguish him as a classic playmaker. The Argentine international combines well with teammates, playing intricate one and two-touch football. He brings others into the play, linking up with attackers and picking out the telling through-ball. Pastore can keep possession in the final third, but he has the ingenuity and inventiveness to provide the killer pass as well.
With his combination of balance, elegance and creativity, Pastore has emerged as an elite attacking midfielder.
At 22 years of age, the Palermo playmaker has been compared with some of football's greatest stars of past and present.
Although still early in his career, Pastore is already considered one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. The Argentine claims the No. 6 spot with his graceful style of play, inventiveness and technical skill.
Pastore has the talent and potential to challenge for the top spot over the next few years. However, with the large number of elite and experienced attacking midfielders in football, he falls short of the top five. He lacks the physical strength, and occasionally the quality end-product, to move higher in the rankings.
The Palermo starlet climbs above Kaká and Hamšík with his level of good form, creativity and vision. Although the former Ballon d'Or winner is more of a goalscoring threat from midfield, Pastore has shown better combination play and has consistently performed at a higher level.
Hamšík may be the more well-rounded attacking midfielder, but the Argentine edges out the Slovakian captain with his imagination in possession and eye for a pass.
With his excellent form with Palermo in Serie A, Pastore has established himself as a world-class playmaker.
Name: Rafael van der Vaart
International Caps: 90
Following an unsuccessful stint with Spanish giants Real Madrid, the Dutchman revitalized his career with a move to Tottenham last summer. Manager Harry Redknapp arguably made the best discount signing of the season, bringing van der Vaart to White Hart Lane for only £8 million. The attacking midfielder had a stellar campaign with Spurs, producing 15 goals and nine assists in all competitions.
Van der Vaart's exemplary technical ability sets him apart from the majority of top-quality playmakers. The Dutch maestro has outstanding quality in his left foot. With his great range of passing, he can hit a long cross-field diagonal, or play the incisive pass through multiple defenders.
The Tottenham star has the skill and vision to pick out teammates anywhere on the pitch. He has the ability to unlock the defense with his creativity and eye for a pass. Van der Vaart can play the perfectly-weighted through-ball to split defenders, or set up a goal-scoring opportunity with a clever reverse-pass. His composure on the ball and ingenuity mark him as a world-class playmaker.
Although he is a talented and cultured passer, the Dutchman has world-class striking ability. His goal tally dropped during his time at Madrid. However, with regular first-team action, he can deliver over 10 goals per season.
Van der Vaart's shooting technique makes him a serious threat from in and around the area. He can strike with power and precision, and has the quality to test opposition keepers on the volley as well. Given space and time on his left foot, van der Vaart knows how to find the back of the net.
The Dutch playmaker is an accomplished set-piece specialist as well. He gets a good dynamic on the ball, whipping dangerous crosses into the box and going for goal as well.
Van der Vaart no longer plays for one of Europe's elite clubs, but he remains one of the most talented attacking midfielders in football.
The Dutchman had a stellar 2010-11 campaign in his first year of English football. The Tottenham playmaker was expected to struggle with the transition, but he was a key figure and star performer for the club. Van der Vaart breaks into the top five with his polished attacking qualities, exceptional technique and impressive level of top form.
The Tottenham playmaker has the skill to match the midfielders higher on the list. However, he occasionally drifts in and out of matches. Although he can be a match-winner and incisive passer, the Dutchman's lack of pace and physical strength keeps him from climbing higher in the rankings as well.
Van der Vaart moves above Hamšík and Pastore with his great range of passing, vision and goalscoring ability. Although the Napoli star has much better physical attributes and a more balanced style of play, the Dutchman is a more creative playmaker and passer in the final third.
Pastore undoubtedly has the skill to challenge the Tottenham maestro, but van der Vaart edges out the young Argentine with his dynamic range of passing and ability to score goals from midfield.
Van der Vaart is an exceptionally gifted attacking midfielder, and deserving of his place in the top five.
Name: Samir Nasri
International Caps: 22
Nasri had a breakout 2010-11 season with the Gunners, and was arguably the best player in England. The Frenchman was named to the PFA Team of the Year, and narrowly missed out on the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. He displayed the talent that had previously drawn comparisons to French legend Zidane, and emerged as one of Europe's top playmakers.
The Arsenal star is an exceptionally gifted and skillful attacking midfielder. With his outstanding touch and ball control, the Frenchman works well in tight spaces. Nasri is comfortable playing with both feet, which opens more passing angles and helps relieve pressure.
The playmaker excels playing quick one and two-touch football. He links up well with teammates, using his change of pace, flicks and clever touches to combine in midfield. His intelligent movement on and off the ball creates space in the final third.
Nasri's ability to dribble with pace distinguishes him as a dynamic attacking midfielder. He can side-step challenges and beat multiple defenders with his skill on the ball. The French international has become known for his close control and slalom runs.
Although he has world-class technical skill, Nasri boasts great creativity and vision as well. The midfielder can unlock defenses with his imagination in possession. While he can deliver the inch-perfect pass over distance, the Frenchman is most dangerous when playing one-two's outside the box and looking for the killer through-ball. Nasri can find the opening between defenders and produce the splitting pass.
In addition to his accomplished creative and playmaking abilities, the Arsenal star provides a genuine goalscoring threat from midfield. He boasts tremendous composure in the box, and has the awareness to evade challenges as well. The Frenchman can place the ball in the back of the net, or strike with power. His ability to shoot with both feet makes him more unpredictable in front of the goal.
After a sensational season with the Gunners, Nasri has solidified his place amongst the best attacking midfielders in football.
Arsenal's French star has developed into one of Europe's top playmakers. After missing out on the French 2010 World Cup roster, Nasri contributed an impressive 16 goals in his best season with the Gunners. The midfielder lands at No. 4 due to his technique, dribbling, inventiveness and level of good form.
Nasri makes a strong case to break into the top three. He has the skill set and form to challenge for a higher spot in the rankings. However, the midfielders above him are more polished and accomplished with their passing.
The Frenchman climbs above Pastore and van der Vaart with his goalscoring ability, ingenuity and skill. Although the Argentine starlet plays a similar one and two-touch style of football, Nasri is the more dynamic attacking midfielder and goal-scoring threat.
Van der Vaart has the technique to challenge the Arsenal midfielder, but Nasri can play with both feet, has better quickness, and is more skilled on the ball.
Nasri has all the tools to claim the top spot in the next few years. Still only 24 years of age, the Frenchman is undoubtedly an elite attacking midfielder.
Name: David Silva
Club: Manchester City
International Caps: 48
City's chief playmaker enjoyed a great start to his career at Eastlands, emerging as one of the best players in England. Although playing for the pragmatic and defensive-minded Roberto Mancini, Silva contributed six goals and 15 assists in all competitions. The Spanish World Cup winner may not be a first-choice starter for the national team, but he is clearly amongst the top attacking midfielders in the world.
Silva boasts exceptional technical ability and skill. The Spaniard has undeniable quality in his left foot. Silva's touch on the ball and close control are world-class. He shifts the ball with ease, turning away from pressure and using his body to shield opponents.
The City star has the skill to dribble past opponents and side-step challenges. Calm, crafty and composed, the City star rarely gets dispossessed.
The Spaniard has a good change of pace to complement his dribbling ability. Although he does not have blistering speed, Silva is quick and agile in small spaces. With his awareness and anticipation, the maestro can use a small burst of pace to get beyond defenders.
Silva's passing and creativity distinguishes him as an elite attacking midfielder. He has a strong range of passing, capable of working small triangles or finding teammates over distance. The Spanish playmaker excels playing intricate one and two-touch football in midfield.
Although he can switch the play with a cross-field diagonal, Silva is most dangerous when searching for the killer pass. The City midfielder will combine with teammates in the final third, and wait for the perfect opening. Silva can split defenders with an inch-perfect pass, and play strikers through on goal. However, it is the timing and weight of the through-ball that makes the Spaniard such a playmaking threat.
Silva has the vision and inventiveness to unlock defenses. The City playmaker uses acute angles and reverse passes to play against the grain. Silva can find the smallest passing windows and provide the killer pass.
In addition to his passing skill, the Spanish World Cup winner can shoot from distance. Although a pass-first playmaker, Silva can find the back of the net with his left-footed strike.
The Spaniard has lived up to his £24 million price-tag, assuming the creative responsibilities for City, and solidifying his place amongst the best attacking midfielders in football.
Although he does not play for one of the most attractive sides in Europe, Silva is clearly an elite playmaker. The vast majority of City's positive attacking movement goes through the 25-year-old, which signifies not only his importance to the club, but his creative abilities. Silva breaks into the top three with his skill, vision and exemplary passing.
The Spaniard has the tools and attacking qualities to be considered amongst the best players at the position. However, the top two attacking midfielders have been in a league of their own. With his lack of physical strength and limited goals from midfield, Silva cannot move higher in the rankings.
In the toughest decision of the rankings, the City star edged out Nasri for the No. 3 spot. The Frenchman is a more well-rounded attacking midfielder, provides a greater goalscoring threat, and has been in better form. However, Silva moves above the Frenchman with his ability to create chances for others, pick apart the defense and consistently find the killer pass.
Van der Vaart has great technical ability and scores goals as well, but the Spaniard has a better feel for the game and is more incisive with his passing in the final third.
Silva has been a star performer at Eastlands, and earned the No. 3 ranking on the list. Still only 25 years of age, Silva has the talent to challenge for a higher spot in the future.
Name: Mesut Özil
Club: Real Madrid
International Caps: 26
Real Madrid's star playmaker is arguably the best attacking midfielder in the world. Özil had an unbelievable start to his career in Spain, contributing 10 goals and 25 assists. The German had the highest assist tally in all major European competitions last season. Özil emerged as a world-class playmaker, creating an impressive 165 goal-scoring chances in all competitions.
The German international is a gifted attacking midfielder with exemplary technique and skill. His close control and touch rival some of the best footballers in Europe. He has the ability to evade challenges with a feint or quick shift of the ball.
Özil has the skill and finesse to maneuver in small spaces. He will shield the ball from defenders to make more space, or take a small touch to relieve pressure. The German's technical ability and awareness make him difficult to dispossess.
The Madrid star has developed into one of the most creative passers in Europe. Özil's inventiveness and vision distinguish him as an elite attacking midfielder. He finds angles and passing lanes that some playmakers cannot see. The German's imagination sets him apart from the majority of attacking midfielders.
Özil has an unbelievable eye for a pass and great intelligence on the ball. He has the ability to unlock defenses with his incisive and visionary passing. The German can pick out teammates over distance, or produce the killer through-ball. Özil combines well with others around the box, using his change of pace and skill to create space in the final third.
The German's outstanding feel for the game and intelligence make him a unique attacking midfielder. Özil consistently delivers passes with the appropriate direction, timing and weight. With his anticipation and understanding of space, he can play the inch-perfect through-ball to set up a goalscoring opportunity.
Özil's creativity in the third third has been instrumental to his success as a playmaker. The German uses misdirection and improvisation to slip attackers through on goal. Whether he goes against the grain with a reverse pass or plays a delicate chip over the defense, Özil can produce moments of absolute brilliance.
Although he primarily manufactures chances for others, the Madrid playmaker has good shooting technique as well. Given space and time at the edge of the box, he prefers to play the telling pass, but the German can also strike on goal with power and accuracy.
Özil has emerged as a world-class attacking midfielder and creative force. Madrid's 22-year-old maestro is already a star for both club and country, with the potential to become one of the best players of the generation.
Although the Madrid midfielder is only 22 years of age, he is already an elite playmaker. Özil has the skill, creativity and vision to be the No. 1 player in the rankings.
The German is an exceptionally gifted footballer, with great passing and technical ability. Özil's ability to create such an abundance of goalscoring opportunities last season shows how effective he was with his distribution. He consistently found the right pass to unlock the defense and play teammates through on goal.
With his talent and potential, Özil will undoubtedly be challenging for the top spot over the next few years. The German has all the tools to become the best playmaker in football.
Özil climbs above Nasri and Silva with his intelligence, feel for the game, passing skill and vision. The Arsenal star provides more flair and a goal-scoring threat, but the Madrid playmaker has the awareness and clever passing to surpass the Frenchman. Although Silva is similar in terms of style and skill, Özil edges out the Spaniard with his level of good form and effectiveness in the final third.
The German has all the skills to claim a higher spot in the future, but there is only one attacking midfielder who deserves the No. 1 ranking.
Name: Wesley Sneijder
International Caps: 76
Wesley Sneijder has earned the title as the world's No. 1 attacking midfielder. The Inter playmaker played a significant role in the club's treble-winning 2009-10 campaign, and was later named to the 2010 FIFPro World XI. The Dutchman has enjoyed great success for club and country, on the way to becoming the best player at his position.
Sneijder's unmatched technical ability distinguishes him as an exceptionally talented attacking midfielder. The Inter No. 10 has a strong range of passing, which has been key to his success as the club's primary playmaker. He can spread the play by hitting long cross-field diagonals, or combine with teammates in midfield. Sneijder excels passing over distance, but he has the technique and skill to play one and two-touch football.
The Dutchman's technique and ambidexterity make him a unique playmaker. Unlike most one-footed attacking midfielders, Sneijder is comfortable playing with both feet. His ability to play short and long passes with either foot opens more passing angles.
Furthermore, his ambidexterity allows him to make passes that other players would not attempt. Sneijder's passing with both feet helps dictate tempo and orchestrate the attack. The Dutchman is not forced to play negative passes due to a weaker foot, which allows him to keep possession higher up the pitch. In addition, his exceptional technique makes him less predictable on the ball.
Sneijder's world-class shooting ability makes him a genuine goal-scoring threat from midfield. The Dutchman strikes the ball with great power and accuracy. With his outstanding technique, Sneijder has become one of the most dangerous distance shooters in Europe. He can strike through ball with pace or hit a curling effort into the far corner. Comfortable shooting on either foot, Sneijder can score from in and around the box.
The Inter midfielder has developed into a set-piece specialist as well. Sneijder gets good whip on his free-kicks, striking with enough power and curl to get the ball over the wall and past the keeper.
Although he boasts impressive technical ability, the Dutchman is a creative playmaker as well. Sneijder does not play with the imagination of other elite attacking midfielders, but he has great vision and the skill to find teammates with a killer through-ball. He sees the smallest openings, and delivers well-weighted passes with either foot. The Inter playmaker can pick out a player through multiple defenders.
Standing at 5'7'', Sneijder lacks the physical size of most players. However, he has good quickness and strength to compensate for his height. The Dutchman plays with determination, tenacity and a true winner's mentality.
After impressive displays for both club and country, Inter's chief playmaker has become one of the best players in world football.
Although Özil was a serious contender for the No. 1 ranking, Sneijder emerged as the top attacking midfielder.
The Dutchman has been in sensational form over the past two years, winning the treble with Inter and reaching the World Cup Finals with the Netherlands. He was a key figure for both teams, assuming the primary playmaking and creative responsibilities. The Inter midfielder claims the top spot with his superior technique, ambidexterity and shooting ability.
Although Sneijder does not have Özil's outstanding imagination and clever passing, the Dutchman is one of the most talented playmakers in Europe. His ability to pass and shoot with both feet makes him a dynamic attacking midfielder. Sneijder also moves above the young German with his great intangibles and the ability to score goals from midfield.
Silva has the creativity and passing skill to challenge for the top spot. However, the Dutchman edges out the City playmaker with his goalscoring ability and ambidexterity.
At 27 years of age, Sneijder is in the prime years of his footballing career. He has consistently performed at an unbelievable level, and has developed into a well-rounded and dangerous playmaker.
Özil, Silva and Nasri will continue to challenge for the top spot, but Sneijder is undoubtedly the No. 1 attacking midfielder in the world.
Previous Power Rankings: The Top 10 (position) in the world:
- The Top 10 Wingers
- The Top 10 Central Midfielders
- The Top 10 Defensive Midfielders
- The Top 10 Left-Backs
- The Top 10 Centre-backs
- The Top 10 Right-backs
- The Top 10 Goalkeepers
From goalkeepers to strikers, a new Top 10 list will be published every week.