The 23-year-old midfielder had his most impressive season this year at AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie scoring 15 times and assisting 5 from midfield. He has excellent set-piece ability, scoring two free-kicks and is deemed a penalty specialist, converting seven this season.
He can play anywhere in midfield or central defence but most commonly in a eight or six role, he has excellent defensive ability, winning 3.9 ground duels per game, this places him in the top 10% when compared to players in Europe’s top five leagues. Despite his defensive quality he doesn't fall short in the creativity department either as he creates an average of 1.15 chances per game - Declan Rice averages 0.75 to give this statistic context.
Koopmeiners most impressive stat comes from clearances though, making 4.83 per game putting him in the top 1% of midfielders. Despite his defensive quality he doesn't fall short in the creativity department because of this as he creates an average of 1.15 chances per game - Declan Rice averages 0.75 to give this stat context. Koopmeiners looks set to leave this summer but West Ham will need to be quick if Declan Rice is to depart.
The Southampton midfielder was fairly unlucky to be left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad after a standout season for The Saints. He is a renowned world class set piece taker, with an impressive 0.12 conversion rate from direct free kicks. Ward-Prowse is a dissimilar player to Declan Rice with the former being a much more attacking outlet that can play anywhere in midfield but last season transitioned to a role slightly more advanced under Ralph Hassenhüttl.
He’s extremely reliable, in fact the most reliable Premier League player ever, with him becoming the first player to play every single minute of football in consecutive campaigns, meaning he started every game and was never substituted. This is a remarkable achievement and pays tribute to his fitness levels. He’s also excellent defensively, outperforming average midfielders at every opportunity most impressively with 10.21 ball recoveries per 90, the average for midfielders in 6.67 in The Premier League. Ward-Prowse then finished the season as Southampton player of the year but unfortunately it wasn’t enough in Gareth Southgate’s eyes.
The Brighton man has made quite a name for himself following a spectacular season which saw him gain praise across the football world. The 24 year-old has attracted the interest of clubs all across Europe and it’s clear to see why. Excellent in possession, the midfielder progresses the ball really well as his average pass length, pass accuracy and passes to the final third statistics are all 20% above average.
His defensive duels and aerial duels won per 90 are also 30% above the average midfielder in the Premier League. However Yves Bissouma’s quality stretches further than statistics due go his technical quality on the ball which ties in with his ball progression. His performances are very easy on the eye but he has managed just two goal involvements in his career at Brighton thus far.
The Norwegian was a shining light in a terrible Sheffield United squad last season despite making just 13 starts for The Blades. He created 14 chances during that time placing his average per game slightly above Rice and Koopmeiners.
He provided one goal and an assist for United but his efforts were not enough to keep The Blades up, their hopes were seriously dampened when Berge was ruled out for over half the season but he has since recovered from the surgery. This is often described as one of Berge’s few weaknesses though, often missing many games a season due to injury. Due to The Blades relegation, he will be allowed to leave the club for approximately £20m due to a release clause.
My favourite on the list is undeniably Teun Koopmeiners, he is excellent in possession, has brilliant defensive attributes but also attacking qualities and goal scoring ability making him the perfect midfield candidate for any team, however it is looking increasingly likely that he will leave this summer, meaning that if Declan Rice stays for another year he could prove difficult to sign, in this scenario James Ward-Prowse would be my choice.