It’s hard to believe that the England national team have had a problem with creativity for years. After all, when it comes to attacking midfielders, the Three Lions boast the kind of depth most countries can only dream of.
Gareth Southgate has a wealth of options at his disposal and has started introducing those creative midfielders to his squad. There are so many players battling it out, but ultimately, not all of them can make it into the World Cup squad.
Let’s take a look at who’s out there.
It feels like an eternity since we saw Dele Alli playing at his peak and he’s disappointed after a few false dawns of a resurgence since.
He put in some top cameo performances when Everton’s backs were against the walls in their relegation scrap, but he’d have to start the new campaign in that same form on a consistent basis to work his way back into Southgate’s thinking.
The creative hub for England four years ago, Jesse Lingard’s career has stalled somewhat recently.
After hugely impressing on loan at West Ham and being controversially cut from Southgate’s squad for Euro 2020, Lingard returned to sitting on the Man Utd bench before leaving on a free transfer this summer.
He’ll need to start at his next club to get another proper look-in again.
Despite only making 21 Premier League starts for Arsenal last season, Emile Smith Rowe grabbed 10 goals from open play and gained plenty of admirers – with Southgate notably being one of them.
The Gunners youngster broke into the senior Three Lions squad for the March internationals, but returned to the U21 setup in June and has work to do to gain his place back.
Southgate has already admitted that there is only one thing keeping James Maddison out of his squad – the remarkable quality of other players in his position.
After falling out of the public spotlight, Maddison had a storming 2021/22 campaign on all fronts for a Leicester team that largely struggled. If he keeps his form up, he’s just an injury away from heading to Qatar.
Remember when Southgate came under intense scrutiny for not starting Grealish? Feels a world away now.
The 26-year-old has struggled to find his best form again at Manchester City after leaving Aston Villa, while he still isn’t assured of a place in England’s XI.
However, he has time and again proved a useful option from the bench for the Three Lions and his place is pretty safe as long as he’s fit.
Mason Mount has often been misunderstood during his young career. A lot of fans don’t see what the Chelsea man brings to the table even beyond his impressive goal and assist totals.
Surprisingly, his form at club hasn’t ever really translated to the international game, but he’s obviously a good player who Southgate will continue to stick with for good reason.
The margins between our top three are very thin and will likely change from week to week next season, but for now, Foden has the number one spot.
He featured far more prominently for Man City as they retained their Premier League title and scooped his second successive PFA Young Player of the Year award – a feat only matched by Robbie Fowler, Wayne Rooney and Dele.
He brings an unpredictability that few players possess and if he can start finding the net as often for England as he does for City, then the scoring burden on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling will crucially be reduced.
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