Strikers may score most of the goals, but many of the game’s real artisans reside in midfield. Here are 10 of the best midfielders in the world.
Ronaldo's favored position is in wide midfield, although he can also function behind the striker or as a center forward. One of the most eye-catching players in the world game, Ronaldo's array of skills make him worth the admission fee alone. His step over is world renowned, and he scores an abnormally high number of goals for someone who does not regularly play as an out-and-out striker.
Now into his 30s, Xavi's greatest attribute is his passing. Capable of being both economic or expansive in possession, Xavi can dictate a game's rhythm. He has become invaluable for Barcelona as the years have gone on, and although not a prolific scorer from midfield (he has only got into double figures once in his career), his runs into the box and ability to take free-kicks are invaluable for club and country. One of the very best central midfielders of the last 10 years.
Iniesta enjoys what appears to be an almost telepathic understanding with teammate Xavi. Scorer of Spain’s World Cup winning goal against Holland in the 2010 World Cup final, the midfield star is one of the country’s most loved players and is even spared the usual hostile reception that Barcelona players receive when they visit Real Madrid. An excellent dribbler, who is superb at linking midfield and attack. Player of the tournament as Spain retained the European Championships in 2012.
Fabregas was desperate to join former club Barcelona in the summer of 2010, but Arsenal rejected two bids from the Catalans and refused to even entertain the idea of selling their captain. One year on, Barca got their way and Fabregas got the move he so desired after many hours at the negotiating table. The Spaniard was the heartbeat of the Gunners midfield, his passing and creativity making him the first name on the team sheet.
5. David Silva (Spain & Manchester City)
6. Luka Modric (Croatia & Real Madrid)
7. Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast & Manchester City)
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany & Bayern Munich)
9. Arjen Robben (Netherlands & Bayern Munich)
Robben has that deadly combination of pace and skill that frightens defenses. He also has end product, with an impressive goalscoring record over the years. Injuries have undermined him, but when on song, there are few better wide players in the world game.
His big money move from Real Madrid to Arsenal in September 2013 took many by surprise. But Real needed to balance the books after their world record signing of Bale and had made it clear to Ozil that he was not guaranteed regular starts. Known as a player who needs to feel appreciated, a long phone call with Arsenal's German-speaking manager Arsene Wenger persuaded Ozil that his future lied at the Emirates Stadium.