Football Features

Who are the Premier League’s best central midfielders in 2023/24?

By Squawka News

Premier League's best central midfielders ranked

Published: 18:13, 23 February 2024

Who are the best central midfielders in the Premier League right now?

The Premier League has always been home to some of the best midfielders in world football, from the age old debate of Gerrard vs Lampard vs Scholes to Yaya Toure putting in some incredible displays for Man City. But which central midfielders are currently the best in the Premier League in 2023/24? We’re about to find out..

We’ve used the Twenty3 Sport Discovery Tool to find the best players in each position. For the top five central midfielders, the Discovery Tool rates a player’s per 90 output for a number of key stats to produce a percentage score. We have also weighted each stat from 1-5 to highlight the most important aspects of a striker’s play style. 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 central midfielders in the Premier League ranked by their Squawka Score from the campaign so far, with only players who have 1,125+ minutes under their belt considered (half the amount available).

To be clear, we are only looking at central midfielders in this article, you can find the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League here.

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More Premier League player rankings:

5. Bruno Guimarães

  • Club: Newcastle
  • Squawka Score: 72%

Bruno Guimarães is a huge reason to why Newcastle have been so successful since their takeover. The Brazilian has won more fouls than any other midfielder in the Premier League so far in 2023/24, while only Fulham’s Joao Palhinha has won more duels and only four midfielders have won possession more times than the Toon Army’s number 39. Since making his debut in the competition, he is the only player to win 300+ duels, make 300+ ball recoveries, make 100+ tackles and win 100+ fouls.

=4. Pascal Gross

  • Club: Brighton
  • Squawka Score: 73%

What a season Pascal Gross is having. The German set a new record for the most assists provided in a single Premier League campaign for Brighton in the Seagulls’ biggest ever away win in the competition against Sheffield United in his last appearance (9), with only Ollie Watkins and Kieran Trippier (both 10) providing more assists in the Premier League this season. In his performance against the Blades, he became the first player on record (from 2003-04) to create that 8+ chances, while also completing 100+ passes with an accuracy of over 90%.

=4. Douglas Luiz

  • Club: Aston Villa
  • Squawka Score: 73%

Aston Villa are chasing Champions League football under Unai Emery this season and Douglas Luiz has been one of the key components. As well as putting in some fine displays in the Villa midfield, the Brazilian has also found his shooting boots, especially at home where he has scored seven goals (and provided two assists) in just 12 league appearances at Villa Park this season, setting a new PB for goals scored in a single Premier League campaign.


3. Tom Cairney

  • Club: Fulham
  • Squawka Score: 74%

It’s fair to say that Tom Cairney has gone under the radar so far this season with his midfield partner Joao Palhinha getting all the plaudits. However, the Fulham captain has been quietly going about his business, ranking in the top 5% for final third passes completed, big chances created and take-on success, whilst also featuring in the top 15%-20% for goal contributions (1 goal, 3 assists), open-play expected assists, ground duel success, aerial duel success, retention rate and fouls won.

2. Ross Barkley

  • Club: Luton Town
  • Squawka Score: 77%

After a spell with Nice last season, Ross Barkley returned to the Premier League for the 2023/24 campaign with newly promoted Luton Town and so far, it has looked like a masterstroke. He has put in fantastic performances week-in, week-out and there have been calls from fans and pundits alike for him to return to the England set-up under Gareth Southgate. The 30-year-old has helped give the Hatters a huge chance of staying in the top flight this season, ranking in the top 5% for number of sequences featured in that end in a shot, take-ons completed, duels won, shots and open-play chances created.

1. Rodri

  • Club: Man City
  • Squawka Score: 78%

When he’s in the team, Rodri knits everything together for Manchester City with his passing, composure and ability to turnover possession at key moments. When he’s missing, everything sort of falls apart, as proven by the fact that all three of Man City’s Premier League defeats this season have all come when he hasn’t been in the side. While Erling Haaland’s goals steal the headlines, the Spaniard just goes about his business being the true star for Pep Guardiola.

This season however, he has also added goals to his game, with his six strikes and three assists equalling his best ever tally for goal involvements in a single top-flight campaign. He is also the only player averaging more than 100+ successful passes per 90 in the Premier League this season (102) and has not lost a single game across any competition for Man City in over a year.

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: Ball Recoveries, Red Cards, Ground Duel Success (%), Non-penalty Expected Goals, Open-play Expected Assists, Percentage of Sequences Featured In That End In A Shot, Percentage of Sequences Featured In That End In The Final Third,
  • 3: Aerial Duel Success (%), Take-on Success (%), Yellow Cards, Number of Sequences Featured In That End In A Shot, Number of Sequences Featured In That End In The Final Third, Tackles, Shots On Target, Big Chances Created, Retention Rate (%), Duels Won
  • 2: Successful Passes Into Box, Accurate Final Third Passes, Fouls Won, Fouls Committed, Take-ons Completed, Shots, Touches In Opposition Box, Open-play Chances Created
  • 1: Interceptions, Dispossessions, Final Third Passes Completed, Through Balls Attempted