With the transfer window in full swing, WhoScored.com analyse the top targets for teams across the continent.
Following on from our look at the most in-demand keepers and defenders on the continent, WhoScored.com run the numbers on the 10 midfielders commanding the most interest this summer.
Linked with a move to Old Trafford for a number of years now, Manchester United’s interest in Rodriguez seems to have cooled for the time being, though the Colombian’s future at Real Madrid is still very much up in the air. The 25-year-old started just 13 of 22 La Liga appearances last season, rendering tallies of eight goals and six assists more than respectable.
Indeed, when equalling the playing fields statistically, the playmaker created more chances per 90 minutes than any other player to make at least 20 appearances in Spain’s top-flight last season. As such, when excluding substitute appearances, Rodriguez earned a higher WhoScored.com rating (7.68) than Cristiano Ronaldo (7.61) and Gareth Bale (7.56).
The Italian’s protracted move from PSG to Barcelona promises to be among the most long-running affairs of the summer, though the Catalans’ interest is more than understandable. Verratti fits the Blaugrana mould after all, retaining possession with consummate ease while being able to break the lines with the agility and balance to negate any opposition press.
Still just 24, the Azzurri international not only averaged a whopping 87.5 passes per game with 88.4% accuracy last season but also weighed in with 3.1 tackles per game to rank among the top 10 players in Ligue 1 when it came to regaining possession. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.54 was second only to Alexandre Lacazette (7.57) in France’s top tier.
Jean Michael Seri
Closely trailing Verratti in the passing metrics, it is little wonder that Nice midfielder Seri has been lined up by Barcelona as an alternative to the Italian if PSG refuse to budge. The Ivory Coast international was in the thick of the action for a Nice side that had mounted an unlikely title challenge for much of the campaign, pulling the strings with aplomb, and it appears Roma are at the head of the queue for his signature.
The 25-year-old averaged the third most passes per game in Ligue 1 last season (83.4), while boasting an even greater success rate than the aforementioned PSG man (89.5%). Moreover, Seri doesn’t just look for the simple pass either, as one of only five players to create more than 50 chances from open play in France last season, heralding an impressive nine assists to rank second in the division.
The one player to register more Ligue 1 assists than Seri last season, Lemar was the only man to reach double figures (10), and all at the age of just 21. North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are both believed to have taken a strong interest in testing Monaco’s resolve, with the latter witnessing first-hand how impressive the youngster can be having scored home and away against Spurs in the Champions League last season.
With a further nine league goals, along with a strike in the Coupe de la Ligue final, the winger earned a first senior international call-up and looks set to be a fixture for Les Bleus for the foreseeable future. His ability over a set piece helped Monaco score more goals from such situations than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues (23).
Sticking with the Ligue 1 winners, Leonardo Jardim’s side owed as much to the creativity and flair of their attacking talents as the tenacity of Fabinho in the middle of the park. The one-time Real Madrid misfit has been transformed from a right-back into one of the most effective ball-winning midfielders on the continent, attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United and PSG.
It’s little wonder given the importance of his role in a truly sensational season for Monaco, averaging a team high of 3.1 tackles per game in the league and a further 3.3 per game en route to the Champions League semi-finals. The 23-year-old also weighed in with 10 goals across the two tournaments, though seven of those did come from the penalty spot.
The one remaining piece of the midfield jigsaw at Monaco tipped to be stripped away this summer, Bakayoko is believed to be nearing a move to Chelsea that would see Nemanja Matic rejoin Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. The 22-year-old offers everything that the Serbian did to the Blues’ title tilt last season and more, while still providing the height alongside the diminutive N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas.
Playing the same role in partnering the midfield destroyer in their respective sides last season, Bakayoko averaged more tackles (2.2 to 1.5), interceptions (1.8 to 1.4), dribbles (1.8 to 0.8) and shots (0.9 to 0.6) per game last season than Matic. A near-identical pass accuracy further suggests that Chelsea have found a more than adequate replacement for the seemingly United-bound 28-year-old.
Another player widely tipped to make a move to the Red Devils this summer, Perisic’s appeal to Mourinho’s ideals comes as no shock whatsoever. The industrious yet exciting winger was one of very few Inter players to impress last season and could be used as a pawn by the Nerazzurri to appease financial fair regulations, though any deal won’t come cheap.
The Croatian had a direct hand in 19 league goals last season, scoring 11 and assisting eight to rank second in both categories for the Serie A outfit. Strong in the air and when it comes to delivering from wide areas, Perisic also weighed in with 1.3 tackles per game and – not afraid to chance his arm – fired off a considerable 2.9 shots per game.
If reports are to be believed the most expensive midfielder on the market this summer may just be Keita, with RB Leipzig ready to hold out for £70m for the Guinea international with Liverpool circling. The Reds’ interest represents a significant statement of intent from a side with genuine title aspirations next season given the potential of the box-to-box middle man.
Simply put, the 22-year-old is about as close as it gets to an all-round midfielder, but he’s no jack of all trades by any means. Keita can adapt to any role in the middle of the park such is his skill set, and contributed eight goals and seven assists to RB Leipzig’s second place finish last season. Elsewhere only Ousmane Dembele completed more dribbles in the Bundesliga (83), all while averaging 2.6 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per game for a superb WhoScored.com rating of 7.60.
If there was one RB Leipzig player that could stake a claim to having had an even greater impact for the side last season it was Forsberg, who had a direct hand in 27 league goals. Thriving following a move into a more central position behind lone striker Timo Werner, the Sweden international registered more assists than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, with a massive 19.
Moreover the 25-year-old ranked third for dribbles in Germany’s top tier, with 71, while of players to make at least 20 league appearances on the continent, only Fabregas created a chance more often (3.6 per 90 minutes). Nine WhoScored.com man of the match awards was the most in the Bundesliga, with an overall rating of 7.75 enough to rank third in the league.
We finish in Germany, which is something that may not be said of Dembele come the end of the transfer window if the reports are true. At the centre of a transfer tussle between the likes of Barcelona, PSG and Manchester City, the 20-year-old made quite the impact in his first season at Borussia Dortmund and will ultimately earn the club a huge profit on the €15m they spent to secure his services from Rennes this time last year.
He’s certainly a diamond in the rough when it comes to picking the right pass and choosing when to make it but his willingness to run at opposition defences and get to the byline is refreshing. Despite ten of 32 league appearances coming from the substitutes’ bench last season, the Frenchman registered 12 assists, scored six goals and completed at least 20 more dribbles (103) than any other player in Germany.Soccer Accumulator Bonus
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