Midfielders form the backbone of a football team. They dictate the speed of the game, bring players into the fold, and carve open defenses by playing inch-perfect through balls into dangerous areas. Midfielders seldom enjoy the glory attackers do, but without them, the entire system tends to fall apart.
The top five European leagues have the privilege of fielding some of the most gifted midfielders on the planet. Many of the said world-class footballers have dazzled onlookers with their crisp passes this season, and today, we will briefly review their performances.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a swift look at the five midfielders with the best passing ability in the 2022-23 season:
#5 Toni Kroos — Real Madrid
For close to a decade, Real Madrid maestro Toni Kroos has reigned as one of Europe’s most efficient players. The German central midfield player is not as adventurous as some of the other names on this list today. However, when it comes to dictating play, there is hardly anyone better than the Real Madrid no. 8.
Kroos is adept at playing short passes and keeping the opposition on their toes. He also has the innate ability to switch play to wide areas with his long balls and is rarely dispossessed under pressure. In the 2022-23 La Liga season, Kroos averages 74.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy) and 6.3 accurate long balls (86% accuracy) per game. Overall, Kroos has played 15 La Liga matches this term, scoring twice and claiming two assists.
Kroos has always been clear of that J league merchant pic.twitter.com/FB4tIbgDU7
— Aishwarya (@timesofball) January 24, 2023
In the Champions League, he claimed two assists in five group-stage matches. There, he averaged 86.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy), eight long balls (87% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes per game.
#4 Joshua Kimmich — Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich’s right-back turned central midfielder Joshua Kimmich has been in red-hot form in the 2022-23 season. The Germany international has featured in 18 games in the Bundesliga this season, scoring thrice, providing three assists and creating six big chances. Kimmich averages 2.7 key passes, 70.4 accurate passes (89% accuracy), and 5.4 long balls (74% accuracy) per game in the Bundesliga.
Con este GOLAZO de Kimmich, el Bayern empató al Köln en los minutos finales del partido 🤩🤯. pic.twitter.com/Prr3ogu3Kp
— ESPN Deportes (@ESPNDeportes) January 24, 2023
In the Champions League group stage, Kimmich claimed three assists and created four big chances in five games. He averaged 68.2 accurate passes (91% accuracy), 4.2 accurate long balls (68% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes in that round.
#3 Luka Modric — Real Madrid
Despite being firmly on the wrong side of 30, 37-year-old central midfielder Luka Modric has been one of Real Madrid’s best players this season. The Croatian superstar has been immaculate with his distribution, has worked harder than most, and has created goalscoring opportunities quite frequently.
In the 2022-23 La Liga campaign, Modric has featured in 17 matches, scoring twice, creating five big chances, and providing two assists. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder averages 1.3 key passes, 43.8 accurate passes (90% accuracy), and 2.4 accurate long balls (77% accuracy) per game.
🇭🇷 Luka Modrić’s inch-perfect trivela 🤤🤤🤤@HNS_CFF | @lukamodric10 | #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/pyds7BiGzV
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) July 16, 2021
The 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist also looked sharp in the group stage of the 2022-23 Champions League, scoring twice in four games. He averaged 56.2 accurate passes (90% accuracy), 3.2 long balls (59% accuracy), and 0.8 key passes each game.
#2 Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City
Arguably the best midfielder in the world right now, Manchester City ace Kevin De Bruyne is in a league of his own. Not only can he dictate the tempo of the game with his short passes in the middle of the park but also do damage with his defense-piercing passes higher up. An in-form De Bruyne can take on any midfield unit in the world and come out on top.
Since the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season, the Belgian has played 19 games, scoring thrice and providing 11 assists. He has created 20 big chances, the most in Europe; and played 20 accurate through balls. The midfielder averages 44.95 passes per game in the Premier League.
16 – Kevin De Bruyne has provided more assists in all competitions this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues (16), with seven of these assists resulting in Erling Haaland goals. Blueprint. pic.twitter.com/fpMKWpiRYk
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 22, 2023
The former Chelsea man has been impressive in the UEFA Champions League as well. In the group stage, De Bruyne played four games, claiming three assists, creating two big chances, and averaging 2.5 key passes per game.
#1 Martin Odegaard — Arsenal
Arsenal are currently sitting at the top of the 2022-23 Premier League table, and their captain, Martin Odegaard, has emerged as the team’s best performer. The former Real Madrid man has been reliable in possession, exhibited immaculate vision, and unlocked defenses with his slide rule through balls.
In the English top flight this season, the Norwegian midfielder has scored eight goals, provided five assists, and created 10 big chances. He averages 34.8 accurate passes (82% accuracy), 2.2 key passes, and 1.6 accurate long balls (64% accuracy) long balls per game.
Martin Odegaard is having an incredible season 👏 pic.twitter.com/RJjPLux1zz
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 16, 2023
Mikel Arteta rarely deployed him in the group stages of the 2022-23 Europa League season. He averaged only 37 minutes over six games, starting only two matches. He created two big chances and averaged 1.3 key passes per game.