The supreme maestros of the last decade are nearing the end of their careers.
Xavi is in his twilight, Pirlo still enjoying a renaissance, and Paul Scholes has already retired, so we look at five central-midfielders destined to define the next 10 years of football.
Here are they are:
5) Kevin Strootman
Amongst many midfielders linked with Manchester United in the summer, the Dutchman has been a revelation since joining Serie A side Roma. Strootman's style often attracts Roy Keane comparisons due to his combative nature and leadership qualities.
He captained the Dutch U-21s at the European championships and thrives as one half of a double pivot. His energy and tenacity have served as the perfect foil to the creativity of Totti and Pjanic as Roma have raced to the top of the table.
4) Paul Pogba
The eccentric Frenchman is another who could be playing for David Moyes men. Boasting a mohawk hairstyle, lanky yet powerful frame, and an abundance of talent, Pogba is immediately recognisable on the pitch. Having transferred from Manchester United to Juventus in 2012, he continues to blossom into one of the finest midfielders in Europe.
His impressive arsenal includes quick feet, a cannon shot, and the ability to drive his side forward in the fashion of a young Viera or Gerrard. A full French international and future world beater.
3) Marco Verratti
Standing at just 5 ft 5 in, the Italian is diminutive in stature but is an emperor on the pitch. His game features the perfect marriage of deft touch, supreme vision, and a delightful passing range that allows him to flourish as a midfield conductor.
Inevitable comparisons to Pirlo look likely to be fulfilled. PSG have a royal talent on their hands. What stands out most is his immunity to any intensity of pressure, remaining a picture of composure and elegance even in the most heated battlefields.
2) Jack Wilshere
The great English hope. What happens if you mix an English lad's stereotypical grit and power with the subtlety and beauty of Catalan tiki-taka? Arsenal have achieved this most enchanting of creations in young Jack Wilshere.
At just 21, his fitness is already inherently linked to England's chances of victory in any game and of course at the forthcoming world cup. Despite suffering numerous lengthy absences owing to his delicate ankle, he has shown (when fit) why he is one of the best midfielders (of any age) in the game.
He made his Arsenal debut at 16 and was already highly rated, but he truly launched himself into the global consciousness with an incredible Champions League showing against the midfield maestros, Xavi and Iniesta in 2011.
1) Iklay Gundogan
Only his compatriot, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was undeniably better than him in midfield last season. Whilst Bender sits and protects the back four, Gundogan is the dynamic launch pad for Dortmund's lightning-quick attacks. He is the key to the incredible speed with which they transitioned from defence to attack. Stylistically similar to Wilshere, last season he drove Dortmund into the Champions League final, out-classing Xabi Alonso in the process.
His passing range is exemplary, but he has the added threat of being a deceptive dribbler, able to drive past opposing midfielders before picking his pass. Add to this his tenacious tackling and adherence to the level of intensity that Klopp demands from his troops, and you have the complete midfielder.
His absence through injury this season can definitely be linked to Borussia Dortmund's dip in form, despite the abilities of deputy, Nuri Sahin. As Schweinsteiger crosses into his 30s, his international heir apparent is already a star for his club rivals.
Note: This list includes only centre midfielders, not number tens; hence the lack of Oscar, Draxler, et al.
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