Dembélé and Alli head box-to-box midfielders, Bayern duo top defensive list

May 9 – Tottenham Hotspur’s Moussa Dembélé and Dele Alli come top and fourth in the CIES Football Observatory ranking of ‘box-to-box’ midfielders in Europe’s Big 5 league. The Bayern double act of Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso topped the rankings defensive midfielders.

CIES Football Observatory have been releasing week by week their leading players of the season in Europe’s Big 5 leagues. Having announced goalkeepers and defenders, this week it is the turn of the midfielders.

The rankings are based on key performance indicators that are then matched to their on-field performances. The chart below shows the importance (and hence weighting) attached to the different factors. Only players who have played 60 minutes or more on matches are considered.

Barcelona, Bayern, Dortmund and Spurs each have two players in the two rankings.

Surprise Premier League champions Leicester City have one of their breakout players, N’Golo Kanté, in eighth place in the defensive midfielders ranking. He is the only Premier League player in the tip 10 that has three Bundesliga players.

In contrast the Bundesliga has only one midfielder in the ‘box-to-box’ top 10, but there are three players from both La Liga and the Premier League.

The youngest players in the top 10 lists are Julian Weigl (Dortmund) and Dele Alli – both aged 20. The box to box list also features 21-year-old Saúl Ñíguez, Atlético Madrid’s rising star at tenth, behind two World Cup winners in Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) and Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona).

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