In modern football, it is the speedy wingers and the new generation of number nines who have taken centre-stage at the moment. These players end up scoring the majority of goals for their teams and thus receive the lion's share of praise from fans and pundits alike.
But if not for the tremendous amount of work put in by their teammates in the middle of the pitch, they would be starved of service, and there would be no goals. The role of midfielders in football has never been as important as in the present day. That is because they not only provide the crucial link between attack and defence but are also expected to assume the role of an extra defender or attacker for their football teams from time to time.
Midfielders are generally some of the most technically gifted players in football teams, and it is an absolute joy to watch them dictate play. Stats often do not do justice to their efforts, and it is only when they are seen in action that one can appreciate their contribution on the football field.
With the 2019-20 European club football season almost behind us, we take a look at ten midfielders across Europe's top five leagues who did justice to the iconic number 5 ,6, 8 and 10 jerseys with top-notch performances.
Top ten active midfielders in European club football this season:
#10: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Ever since his breakthrough season in 2015-16, Joshua Kimmich has been hailed as the successor of former Germany and Bayern Munich captain Phillip Lahm. Just like his retired compatriot, Kimmich has made a seamless transition from a full-back to a defensive midfielder this campaign.
The 25-year-old's performances in the heart of midfield helped Bayern Munich to an unprecedented eighth successive Bundesliga title. Kimmich operated as a deep-lying midfielder during the season and formed a solid partnership with his compatriot Leon Goretzka, weeding out the danger ahead of the defenders and creating chances aplenty for the attackers.
He scored four goals duing the campaign and had seven assists to his name, but it was his tenacity and determination that made him stand out this season.
Kimmich worked harder than anyone else in the league, covering a whopping distance of 398 km in 33 appearances, making the most intensive runs with the football, holding possession more than any other player and also completing 92% of passes.
He was voted the third-best player for the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign, ranking behind Bayern Munich teammate Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho by fellow Bundesliga players in a recent poll conducted by kicker.de.
#9: Santi Cazorla (Villareal)
Santi Cazorla's incredible recovery from an infection suffered after surgery that almost led to his foot being amputated to leading Villareal to Europa League football next season has been nothing short of a miracle.
Even at 35 years of age, Cazorla exhibited glimpses of flair and immaculate control of the football, reminding us that he's still the 'little magician' everyone revered at Arsenal.
He ended the season with 11 goals and nine assists while also generating two key passes a game.
His goal contribution was only behind the in-form Gerrard Moreno for Villareal.
After a successful campaign, Cazorla bid adieu to his childhood club and will play for Al Sadd next season under the tutelage of Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez.