Football Features

Premier League’s best No.8 midfielders in 2023/24 so far

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:45, 1 April 2024

It is often said that a football match is won or lost in midfield. So who are the Premier League’s best midfielders right now?

That’s a difficult question to answer as no other category of position has more sub-categories. So here we are narrowing the focus to the No.8 role — responsible for everything from joining in or starting attacking moves, tracking central runs, protecting the defence and, when required, aggressively counter-pressing.


More Premier League player rankings:


To come up with a list, we fed various statistical categories into Twenty3’s discovery tool and weighted them (i.e. ‘big chances’ created or ball recoveries are worth more than passes completed).

Players’ per 90 output across those metrics — each of which is given a weighting between one and five — is rated by the Discovery Tool to produce a percentage score. The weighting of each statistic highlights the most important aspect of a No.8’s game. This is the Squawka Score.

Each player’s stats are compared to the average output of central midfielders across the past three seasons of big-five European league football based on an automatically calculated minutes threshold. The more they rank in the 95th percentile and above for each metric, the higher the Squawka Score.

With the 2023/24 season well underway, here are the best No.8s in the Premier League ranked by their Squawka Score from the campaign so far, with only players who have 1,305+ minutes under their belt considered.

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Dominik Szoboszlai

  • Team: Liverpool
  • Minutes played: 1,827
  • Squawka Score: 69%

Dominik Szoboszlai was long-linked with a move to the Premier League before joining Liverpool and he’s showing exactly why. The Hungarian has settled into life at Liverpool, creating 41 chances from the midfield at an average of 2.02 per 90 minutes. At Liverpool, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (53) and Mohamed Salah (51) have created more chances than Szoboszlai in the Premier League this season. He has, however, won more possessions in the middle third (78) than any other Liverpool player and completed more final third passes (331).

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  1. Open an account at BetMGM using this link.
  2. Select the Sports Welcome Offer.
  3. Get the offer from the ‘My Offers’ page.
  4. Deposit and place a £10 bet at odds of 1/1 (2.0) or greater.
  5. When it settles, unlock £40 in Free Bets

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Douglas Luiz

  • Team: Aston Villa
  • Minutes played: 2,512
  • Squawka Score: 70%

Douglas Luiz was in danger of losing his impact on the Aston Villa midfield, having been dropped to the deepest point of a three in a 4-3-3 under Steven Gerrard. But returning to a central midfield two under Unai Emery, Luiz is thriving this season, as a direct ball-carrying midfielder. Luiz has 14 goal involvements in the Premier League with nine goals and five assists. Four of those goals have been penalties, but that should take away from the open play impact Luiz has. He’s created 45 chances in the Premier League so far, more than any other Villa player, as well as 54 tackles, 22 possessions won in the attacking third, 67 in the middle third and 75 in the defensive third — all top for the Villans.

Enzo Fernandez

  • Team: Chelsea
  • Minutes played: 1,967
  • Squawka Score: 71%

A lot was made, and is still being made, about the transfer fee Chelsea played for Enzo Fernandez last winter. The Blues forked out £100m for Fernandez and he has been judged against that. The Argentinian hasn’t been a £100m-man, but the midfielder has been one of the best players in the Chelsea squad for the past year. In fact, it’s only really Cole Palmer who would be higher. Fernandez has been heavily utilised by Chelsea in various roles, creating 27 chances — the third-most at Chelsea. He has also made 48 tackles and won possession in the middle third 49 times, with an xA of 3.59.

Ross Barkley

  • Team: Luton
  • Minutes played: 2,055
  • Squawka Score: 73%

Luton may be battling relegation, but the Hatters have won a lot of neutral fans this season. There a few players catching the eye, but standing clear in the midfield is Ross Barkley. This season has been a renaissance for Barkley, who has struggled since leaving Everton for Chelsea six years ago. He has eight goal involvements, even split across four goals and four assists, with 54 shots and 41 chances created. He’s also completed 54 take-ons, made 41 tackles and won possessions in the middle third 82 times. There’s a reason some have tipped him to have an outside chance of making the England squad this summer.

Pascal Groß

  • Team: Brighton
  • Minutes played: 2,304
  • Squawka Score: 74%

Pascal Groß finally earned the recognition he deserved with an international call up in September last year. The German’s game has been adapted in recent years, from a play-making attacking midfielder to a tempo-setting deep-lying midfielder. So far this season, Groß has recorded 10 assists from 78 chances created, sitting joint-top for the former and second in the latter among all players. In fact, since Groß joined Brighton at the start of the 2017/18 season, only Kevin De Bruyne (574) has created more chances than Groß’s 483 in the Premier League.

Squawka Score metrics and weighting

Here are the metrics used and weighting given to each metric to come up with the overall Squawka Score:

  • 5: Goal contribution
  • 4: Open-play expected assists, non-penalty expected goals, ball recoveries, ground duel success (%), red cards, percentage of sequences featured in that end in the final third, percentage of sequences featured in that end in a shot
  • 3: Aerial duel success (%), Take-on success percentage, yellow cards, number of sequences ending in a shot featured in, number of sequences ending in the final third featured in, total tackles, shots on target, big chances created, retention rate (%), duels won
  • 2: Successful passes into the penalty area, passes into the final third completed, fouls committed, fouls won, take-ons completed, duels won, shots, open-play chances created, touches in the opposition box
  • 1: Interceptions, dispossessions, final third passes completed, through-balls attempted