Squawka’s Xmas advent squad: who’s the best No.6 in Europe?

Squawka’s Xmas advent squad: who’s the best No.6 in Europe?

With less than 20 days to go until Christmas, the advent calendar moves along another spot.

There are now just two weekends of football until the big day hits on December 25th. To properly celebrate the holiday spirit, we here at Squawka decided to come up with our own advent calendar themed around footballers and their shirt numbers. Who was the best No.6 this year in Europe? That’s what we aim to find out!

While overall quality was obviously considered when ranking our top three players of the year, the deciding factors were obviously how well they performed during the year, with notable weighting being given to the World Cup.

No. 1: Marc-André Ter Stegen
No. 2: Kyle Walker
No. 3: Giorgio Chiellini
No. 4: Virgil Van Dijk
No. 5: Raphael Varane

There’s been lots of talent to choose from, but here are Squawka’s three best No.6s in the world:

3. Koke (Atlético Madrid/Spain)

What makes him special? Koke had an up-and-down 2017. Well, mostly down. But when 2018 rolled around the midfielder found his form and helped Atlético Madrid power their way to an impressive Europa League triumph. After a poor World Cup where he was sporadically used (and sadly missed a penalty in Spain’s shootout defeat to Russia) Koke bounced back by helping Atleti beat eternal rivals Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup, scoring the fourth and final goal.

Key stat: Only Leo Messi (78) has created more chances in La Liga than Koke (59) since 2012/13.

2. Dejan Lovren (Liverpool/Croatia)

What makes him special? It’s easy to laugh at self-proclaimed “best defender in the world” Dejan Lovren, but there is no doubt the Croatian has had an incredible 2018. He was inexplicably a key part of Liverpool’s defence as they made it all the way to the Champions League final and then he repeated the trick even more impressively with Croatia at the World Cup. With Lovren as the quiet and calm defensive leader, Croatia marched all the way to the World Cup final. In the end, he was a double runner-up but he definitely did himself proud.

Key stat: No one made more clearances than Dejan Lovren (65) in the Champions League last season.

1. Paul Pogba (Manchester United/France)

What makes him special? His mindbending combination of athletic ability and technical excellence. Repeated issues with José Mourinho have made Pogba’s season so far miserable, but before August he was having a great year. Highlights include a brace against Manchester City as United came from behind to derail Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut, but also, you know, the World Cup.

Pogba started the World Cup giving France an undeserved win with a deflected strike. He then proceeded to get better and better with every passing game, growing in confidence and control as he steered Les Bleus toward the final. There, he not only played excellently but he also scored his side’s third and clinching goal, securing glory for all of France.

Key stat: Paul Pogba was the only player at the 2018 World Cup to make at least 6 dribbles, 6 shots (exc. blocked), 6 interceptions, 6 clearances, win 6 tackles and create 6 chances. A true No.6.

His final stat-line: 8 dribbles, 6 shots, 6 interceptions, 12 clearances, 11 tackles won and 9 chances created. All-rounder.

Honourable mentions:

Thiago (Bayern Munich/Spain), Marco Verratti (PSG/Italy), Davinson Sánchez (Spurs/Colombia), Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia/France), Nacho (Real Madrid/Spain), Sami Khedira (Juventus/Germany), Mario Rui (Napoli/Portugal), Thomas Delaney (Borussia Dortmund, Denmark).