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Euro 2016: Top 5 midfielders at the tournament

An emotional Payet walks off the pitch after scoring the winner against Romania
Srinishanth Nalagandla

The UEFA Euro’s have in the past known to be a spectacle brimming with world class midfielders. With scintillating players like Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Andrea Pirlo missing from this edition, the others seized the opportunity to assure the spectators that the continent will continue to produce exceptional midfielders. Here are the top 5 midfielders from the UEFA European Championship 2016:

1. Dmitri Payet:

After a mesmerising season in the Premier League, which included 9 goals and 12 assists for West Ham, Payet was picked as one of the main 11 men in Didier Deschamps’ squad. In the first game of the Euros, France found themselves staring at an unwanted draw against the Romanians. When the game was heading towards a 1-1 draw in the 89th minute, Payet stepped up and a took a fantastic shot that ended up in the top left corner of the goal. France had found a hero in Payet.

The midfielder didn’t stop there and has since been one of France’s most important player in the tournament. His performance at the tournament includes 3 goals and two assists. Payet also created the most number of chances in the tournament with 24.

Payet proved to be a nuisance for his opponents as he 20 attempted shots in the tournament, seven of which were on target and one hit the woodwork. He was always in the midst of every chance created by the French and is definitely one of the best midfielders of the tournament.

  1. Aaron Ramsey:
    Aaron Ramsey celebrates his goal in the Round of 16.

The Welsh midfielder was one of the standout performers for Wales in what was a dream Euro tournament for the Dragons. Wales exceeded all expectations in the Euros by not only topping their group but also beating favourites Belgium on their way to the semi-finals of the tournament.

They scored in each of their games in the Euros except for their semi-final clash against the Portuguese, the only game that Aaron Ramsey missed at the Euros. Coincidence much? Probably not! The Arsenal midfielder had an impressive 82% passing accuracy at the tournament, completing 212 of his 252 attempted passed during the tournament.

Ramsey also has 12 attempted shots, 5 of which were on target and one, which was a goal. With four assists, he also boasts the stat for most number of assists in the tournament. His performance during the tournament should encourage Arsenal fans for their upcoming season in the Premier League.

  1. Renato Sanches:
    Renato Sanches with the shot that put Portugal on level terms against Poland.

The youngest player ever to play in the Euros for Portuguese also broke the record for the youngest to score in the Euros for the national team. He was also the third youngest player in the history of the Euros to score a goal.

His performance at the Euros earned him the young Player of Euro 2016 award which was decided by a panel that included Manchester United’s most successful manager Sir Alex Ferguson. His 85% pass accuracy speak volumes about the talent that young Renato is.

Sanches also created 5 key chances during the tournament, and 11 take-ons completed during the tournament. He also had 21 solo attacking runs made in the final third, troubling his opponents consistently. The youngster is surely one to look out for next season as he prepares to represent Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

  1. Toni Kroos:
    Toni Kroos takes a corner in the beautiful Stade Velodrome.

Defending World Champions and one of the favourites to win the Euros, Germany had a decent run in the tournament. Although their attack lacked tooth with Mario Gomez out of form, Miroslav Klose retired and Thomas Muller unable to convert as frequently as he did in the World Cup, Germany’s midfield had a great tournament.

Toni Kroos, a player who didn't really make headlines in the Euros, he carried out his work with great composure and perfection. With a staggering 136 passing into the attacking areas, 60 of which were key, Toni Kroos was at the centre of every German attack.

He was also constantly troubling the opposition defense with his shots, ending up with the stat of the third highest number of shots without scoring a goal – 15.

  1. Jakub Blaszczykowski:
    A distraught Blaszczykowski after the missed penalty against Portugal.

Blaszczykowski may come as a surprise to many, but the midfielder had a fantastic campaign at the Euros despite missing his penalty against the Portuguese in the quarter-finals of the tournament. The midfielder scored two and set up one for the Polish at the European Championships while maintaining an impressive pass completion rate of 83.5%.Also read: A lesson in life - The heartbreaking story of Jakub Blaszczykowski

Not only did he contribute to the front line throughout the tournament, he also proved to be a dependable player in helping the defense. With 5 key tackles and 20 ball recoveries, he was one of the tournament's best performers and was the key player in his side’s progress to the quarterfinals of the Euros.

Special Mention:

Hazard celebrates his mesmerising goal against Hungary.

Eden Hazard and Luka Modric were two of the players who narrowly missed out on the list of top five. Although Hazard has some impressive stats besides his name, most of the stats come from the single incredible game her had against Hungary in the round of 16. In the group stages, and the quarter-finals, Hazard was relatively quiet and hence isn’t in the top 5.

Luka Modric is another player who has had an incredible tournament at the Euros. He kicked off Croatia’s campaign with a fantastic volley in their first game and has been their best player in the group stages. Since he picked up an injury before the Round of 16 which ruled him out of the clash, Luka just missed out on the list.

Edited by Staff Editor

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