My central midfield pairing is the heartbeat of my team: the combination of a Ball-Winning Midfielder and Mezzala has brought a dynamic to our midfield which has been really successful, and I think the depth and interchangeability (is that the word?) of the players that make up the midfield really goes some way towards that level of success. Below I run through the players who make up my central midfield for the coming season.
#42. Matt O’Reilly
O’Reilly is potentially one of the greatest scoops of my Football Manager career; I managed to snag him from Fulham for the bargain price of £1.1m, and he has developed massively over the last two years. His PPMs of Getting Forward, and Shooting with Power, fit well with his Mezzala role, and allow him to have an impact going forward. Matt has largely played youth football in his two years at the club, playing 40 times for the youth teams last season, scoring 9 goals and laying on 17 assists, before being called up to the senior side, where he made 10 appearances, scoring and assisting once, notching an average rating of 7.28 in his senior appearances. This season could well be Matt’s breakthrough, especially if he lives up to his performances at youth level.
Last Season: P: 10 | G: 1 | A: 1 | Avg: 7.28
#14. Lucas Torreira
Lucas Torreira arrived at the club this summer, and was signed for his versatility in the midfield, and ability to fill either of my two midfield roles. Strong in the tackle, with good positioning and an eye for a pass, Torreira is probably best described as being defensively-minded, but I don’t think that will stop him from contributing in attack. Torreira had a good year last year at Sampdoria, contributing 2 goals and 4 assists in 39 games, but i’ll be looking for more from him this season.
Last Season (Sampdoria): P: 39 | G: 2 | A: 4 | Avg: 7.24
#18. Naby Keita
In the real world, Keita is a player that many fans are looking forward to: The Guinean midfielder is listed as a Mezzla, but in reality i’ve struggled to find his best role, and I think he performs slightly better in the Ball Winning midfielder role, despite that not being his strongest. He featured 21 times last season, following his £63m move from Leipzig, and was strong in the tackle in midfield, breaking up opposition moves with an average of 5.33 tackles per game. My biggest issue with Naby is his passing, averaging just 78% completion last season, but I think with some work, he can become a real midfield force for us.
Last Season: P: 21 | G: 0 | A: 1 | Avg: 7.11
#23. Emre Can
What can I say about Emre, Mr Versatile, Mr Consistency. We had a falling out in Season 1 about his new contract, but he eventually signed a 5-year extension, and since then his performances have been nothing short of solid – he’s not a spectacular player, but he comes in, gets the job done, and always puts in a shift. He’s not a player with a penchant for the spectacular, but averaging 6.6 tackles a game, and with a pass completion rate of 80%, he’s solid and tenacious, and brings bite and order to our midfield.
Last Season: P: 29 | G: 1 | A: 3 | Avg: 7.33
#8. Sergej Milinkovic Savic
Despite a small injury setback (hence all the red arrows), Sergej has been a revelation since he joined from Lazio in 2017. Named Premier League Footballer of the Year, Player’s Player and Players’ Young Player last season, as well as finishing 3rd in the running for Champions League midfielder of the year behind Sadio Mane and Lionel Messi, Sergej is arguably our catalyst. He scored the winning goal in the 2018 Community Shield, and certainly has the ability to change a game single-handedly. I’ve given him the Number 8 shirt, because I feel he’s the closest we have to Steven Gerrard in terms of talismanic performances. Sergej is almost always the first name on the team-sheet, and he certainly deserves that honour.
Last Season: P: 45 | G: 17 | A: 9 | Avg: 7.47
With Matt O’Reilly pushing through, and real quality in the heart of midfield, The future looks good for this midfield unit, and i’m confident that with the players discussed above, we have one of the most tenacious and creative midfields in the league, which should stand us in good stead. Because they play behind a Shadow Striker, our midfielders are often the ones to recycle possession, break up attacks before they reach the defence, and kick-start our counter attacks.