Football Features

The best wingers and midfielders at Euro 2020: ‘A Ballon d’Or would be deserved’

By Chris Smith

Published: 17:42, 9 June 2021 | Updated: 14:52, 29 September 2021

Over 600 of the continent’s best players, spread across 24 squads, will head to Euro 2020 this summer.

But who are the best? Who are the talents really worth tuning in for? And if you are planning on taking part in FanTeam’s Euro 2020 fantasy football game, who should you be selecting for your 15-player team?

We poured through FanTeam’s roster to pick out the top five each for wingers and central midfielders.

A quick note to readers before we get started that all figures from qualifying exclude play-offs and Nations League fixtures.

Otherwise, feel free to let us know what we got wrong or your own top 10 on Twitter.


5. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/England)

  • FanTeam price: 10M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 2 goals, 3 assists, 6 appearance
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Croatia (7), Scotland (19), Czech Republic (11)

The Londoner has been in exceptional form once more in the Ruhr Valley for Borussia Dortmund, justifying the hype and recent links to Manchester United. A top-bracket winger in every sense, Sancho has typified BVB’s full‑throttle approach this term and enters Euro 2020 in fine fettle.

The 21-year-old completed the Bundesliga season with 19 direct contributions, netting eight goals and providing 11 assists, while also creating 67 chances, a stat bettered by just three wingers across Europe’s top five leagues, one of whom is a teammate of Sancho’s, and comes next in this list.

4. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa/England)

  • FanTeam price: 9.5M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: N/A
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Croatia (7), Scotland (19), Czech Republic (11)

As alluded to, Grealish finished the campaign creating more chances (81) than any other winger across Europe’s top five, outgunning the likes of Son Heung-Min (75), Angel Di Maria (70) and Lorenzo Insigne (63). And this, despite missing a whopping 12 games through injury.

The convalescing star only recently returned from a protracted spell on the sidelines, but Villa’s skipper and talisman collected two caps in England’s pre-tournament friendlies vs Austria and Romania, gaining key minutes on the turf.

And he shone on both occasions, demonstrating his magnetic ball control and dribbling virtuosity. He will be relishing the chance to further his form and showcase his talents on the big stage later this month.

3. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/France)

  • FanTeam price: 9M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 3 goals, 0 assists, 6 appearance
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Germany (7), Hungary (11), Portugal (6)

How’s this for a factoid: in Kingsley Coman’s nine full seasons as a professional footballer, the Parisian has mopped up 10 league titles. Mind-blowing stuff from the incisive winger, who is also a Champions League winner, Euro 2016 runner-up, and an obsessive collector of domestic silverware.

His medal-hoarding exploits resemble that of an ageing star who has lived a charmed life in football, but let’s not forget Coman is still only 24. There is a swath of rich quality in France’s squad, and Coman, who registered a commendable 10 Bundesliga assists this term, is certainly among that elite talent pool.

2. Memphis Depay (Lyon/the Netherlands)

  • FanTeam price: 8.5M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 6 goals, 8 assists, 6 appearance
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Austria (9), North Macedonia (13), Ukraine (4)

From underwhelming at Old Trafford, to excelling in Lyon, Depay has categorically dispelled past uncertainties about his talents since trading the Premier League for Ligue 1. He looks destined to leave Les Gones this summer, but he would depart having made an indelible imprint on the Groupama Stadium annals.

Depay is in FanTeam’s midfielder category and is a prime candidate to outscore everyone else in it. The 27-year-old has netted 76 goals and registered 55 assists in 178 appearances for the club, picking up the captain’s armband in that time, and translating that form to Oranje, for whom he has bagged 25 goals, exactly half Robin van Persie’s record-holding 50, which Depay is no doubt eyeing up.

1. Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich/Germany)

  • FanTeam price: 9M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 8 goals, 1 assist, 7 appearance
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): France (6), Portugal (6), Hungary (11)

An Arsenal regret, and Tottenham’s worst nightmare. Serge Gnabry has championed north London and is making light work of tearing up Bavaria. With 15 goals in just 21 Germany caps, Gnabry is also making a mockery of the international scene and will be raring to go when Euro 2020 comes around.

With eight goals in the qualifiers and yet more Bundesliga glory for Bayern Munich, his name has almost became a byword for success, with those net-busting feats underpinning the devastation he can wreak when in full swing going forward. There is simply no other winger in Europe hotter than Gnabry at present.

Central Midfielders/Central Attacking Midfielders

5. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City/Germany)

  • FanTeam price: 8M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 3 goals, 2 assists, 6 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Hungary (11), Portugal (6), France (6)

A year ago, you wouldn’t dream of putting Ilkay Gundogan into a list like this but the Manchester City midfielder has evolved into a completely different animal.

Let loose by Pep Guardiola, Gundogan is now of the Premier League’s elite goalscoring midfielders, netting 16 times across league and Champions League play this season as City won the title and reached the UCL final, losing to Chelsea.

Whether it’s late arrivals in the box or sweeping finishes from outside the area, there is no area of the final third safe when Gundogan is around. What’s more, he’s managed to put up these numbers without losing any of his defensive ability or calmness in possession.

4. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)

  • FanTeam price: 12.5M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 4 goals, 7 assists, 6 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Denmark (6), Finland (10), Russia (8)

With four goals and seven assists in just six qualifying appearances for Belgium and passing ability capable of cracking defensive codes nobody else can, Kevin De Bruyne is primed to be one of the stars of the show this summer.

Now, at this point, you’re probably screaming at your device and wondering why he’s ranked as low as fourth, but hear us out. By his own lofty standards, De Bruyne had a slight drop-off in form this season, scoring six goals and notching 12 assists in the Premier League compared to 13 and 20 the season prior. He also created 3.6 chances per 90 minutes in 2020/21 compared to 4.37 in 2019/20. And it remains to be seen what effect that blow to the head sustained in the Champions League final will have on his performance.

But even if Roberto Martinez gets a 50% fit De Bruyne, he’ll probably make the Euro’s best XI.

3. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich/Germany)

  • FanTeam price: 8M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 0 goals, 2 assists, 7 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Hungary (11), Portugal (6), France (6)

Joshua Kimmich’s rise from right-back prospect to elite central midfielder has been a joy to watch and in all honesty, Bayern Munich wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as they have been recently without him. Baseline evidence for that can be found in his 40 Bundesliga assists across the past four seasons.

During that time, in what has been a largely stable Bayern squad, Kimmich has been second only to Thomas Muller for chances created in the Bundesliga (276),  while he’s third for tackles (170) and out on top for interceptions (119), passes completed (7,884) and long passes completed (656).

Whichever way you look at it, Kimmich is the ultimate all-rounder, able to orchestrate attacks and break up the opposition in equal measure. He’ll be central to Germany’s hopes this summer in Joachim Low’s final tournament.

2. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United/Portugal)

  • FanTeam price: 9M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 1 goal, 1 assist, 6 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Hungary (11), Germany (7), France (6)

Manchester United might have ended another season trophyless but it wasn’t for the want of trying on Bruno Fernandes’ part. Across league and continental play, the Portuguese midfielder scored a massive 27 goals and provided 17 assists. Both team highs. Even without penalties and set-pieces, he would be third for goals (14), while he generated 12.49 open-play expected assists (xA) — at least 7.55 more than any other United player.

Fernandes is a creative genius and one of the few players in the Premier League who can get close to matching De Bruyne’s passing range, while he’s a stone-cold killer in front of goal both from distance and inside the box.

The only thing counting against him right now is the fact that he’s only managed two goals in 27 senior appearances for Portugal. But this summer would be the perfect time to give that record a facelift.

1. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/France)

  • FanTeam price: 7M
  • Goals/assists in qualifying: 0 goals, 0 assists, 1 appearance
  • Group stage opponents (with goals conceded in qualifying): Hungary (11), Germany (7), Portugal (6)

Just in case anyone needed reminding of N’Golo Kante’s quality (seriously, if you did, seek help), the Frenchman put in an absolute masterclass to guide Chelsea to victory in the Champions League final, a result that has led to talk of a Ballon d’Or win.

“I said a long time ago that it would be appropriate, if Chelsea won, for [Kante] to win the Ballon d’Or,” Pogba told Eurosport recently. “It would be deserved, too.”

Kante ended the night with three tackles, two clearances, two successful dribbles and an 85% pass completion rate. But to be honest, the numbers barely scratch the surface. He was everywhere.

That should come as no surprise. Kante is often incorrectly profiled as a defensive midfielder when in reality, he is the world’s ultimate box-to-box player. He can pass, he can dribble, he can tackle and, my word, can he run. The running joke of Kante being a midfield three on his own has become more and more an accurate assessment.

France are likely to have Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba all in the same side, so Didier Deschamps is going to need someone to both connect the dots and hold down the fort. Can you think of anyone better to do that than Kante?


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