After several years of midfield mediocrity and a clear lack of creativity, Gareth Southgate and England have now been presented with an embarrassment of riches in terms of attacking midfielders.
Southgate is currently finalising his options ahead of this summer’s European Championships with the Three Lions amongst the favourites to reach the latter stages, though the England boss faces a huge selection headache when it comes to his midfield places.
Several stars have enjoyed hugely productive seasons in the Premier League for their respective clubs and each will be hoping to have done enough to ensure their place in Southgate’s final 23.
We’ve decided to look at the most productive stars in the Premier League this season, here are the five English midfielders with the most goal involvements in 2020/21:
James Ward Prowse – 10 (5 goals, 5 assists)
James Ward-Prowse has quietly established himself as one of the best midfielders outside of the division’s top six, having gone from strength to strength under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhuttl at Southampton.
The 26-year-old has thrived since being handed the captaincy and brings energy and creativity to Hasenhuttl’s preferred midfield two, a role which utilises the best of Ward-Prowse’s talents with the midfielder’s performance having seen him recalled into the England fold last year.
The Saints’ skipper has provided 10 goal involvements so far this season with five goals and five assists, the star having emphasised his reputation as arguably the best set-piece taker in the Premier League with four direct free-kick goals in 2020/21.
Ward-Prowse is now just one short of equalling the joint-record held by David Beckham and Laurent Robert for most free-kick goals in a season, his dead-ball delivery providing Southampton with a major attacking asset.
Just James doing Ward-Prowse things. 😎🎯
Yet another exceptional free-kick and the Saints hit back again! 🙇♂️ pic.twitter.com/i9Uf8rLX0r
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 6, 2021
Southgate will be well aware of what Ward-Prowse can bring to his squad and the midfielder’s ability to create from a deeper role makes him a unique proposition, whilst a match-winning ability from set-piece situations could prove invaluable in the latter stages of a major tournament.
Jack Harrison – 10 (6 goals, 4 assists)
Leeds‘ have won plenty of admirers following their return to the Premier League this season with the club’s willingness to attack making Marcelo Bielsa’s side the neutral’s favourites.
Bielsa deserves huge credit for the side he has assembled at Elland Road and he has retained a large core of the players who won promotion, the Argentine having shown an ability to improve players and fit them into a fascinating tactical system.
One player who has made notable strides forward is Jack Harrison, currently in his third consecutive campaign on loan at Leeds from parent club Manchester City.
What a start for #LUFC!
Harrison's shot takes a deflection and beats Guaita to give Leeds the perfect start.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 8, 2021
Harrison endured an underwhelming first season at Leeds before impressing as the Whites won promotion, continuing his progress despite the step-up to Premier League level this season with six goals and four assists in the 2020/21 campaign.
The 24-year-old predominantly starts wide but has been provided with a licence to move inside in search of possession, Harrison an ever-willing runner and unafraid to pull the trigger when afforded a shooting opportunity.
Harrison ranks in the Premier League’s top 10 for crosses, key passes and expected assists, with speculation surrounding a permanent move to Leeds unsurprising considering his upward trajectory.
Harvey Barnes – 10 (7 goals, 3 assists)
Leicester‘s talented young side continue to impress and remain in search of Champions League football this season, the Foxes currently third in the division as they bid to return to Europe’s elite.
Brendan Rodgers has built an attractive side that has produced consistent results since his arrival at the King Power Stadium, and the progress of academy graduate Harvey Barnes has provided the Northern Irishman with an exciting home-grown option.
Barnes was handed his opportunity last season and provided 14 goal involvements in 2019/10, a figure he is well on his way to bettering after scoring seven times and providing three assists so far this season.
The 23-year-old was rewarded with a first call up to the England side last year, making his senior debut as a substitute in a 3-0 friendly win over Wales in October.
Barnes faces a fight to secure his place in the squad this summer given a wealth of competition in wide areas but has shown he can produce on a consistent basis with 10 goal involvements in just 19 league starts.
James Maddison – 11 (6 goals, 5 assists)
Leicester’s push for a top four finish faltered at the final hurdle last season and the absence of the injured James Maddison was a major factor behind their stuttering end of season form.
Maddison has returned to the side this season and has provided England manager Gareth Southgate with a welcome selection headache, scoring six goals and five assists to remerge as a contender for the Three Lions’ creative midfield role.
The 24-year-old has been Leicester’s most influential player in recent weeks and is comfortable across a variety of midfield roles, though faces a fight to secure his place in the England squad having earned just one previous cameo appearance at international level.
Maddison has spoken of his desire to improve his statistical output and he has already bettered his returns from last season, whilst his 11 goal involvements so far are just three short of the 14 he managed during his debut season with the Foxes in 2018/19.
With an improved instinct for timing his runs forward and the lion’s share of Leicester’s set-pieces, Maddison will be confident of improving his total as he looks towards an England recall.
Jack Grealish – 16 (6 goals, 10 assists)
The most creative English midfielder in the Premier League this season, however, has by far been Jack Grealish, the Aston Villa captain having continued to enhance his status as one of the division’s finest footballers during the 2020/21 campaign.
Grealish provided 14 goal involvements as Villa narrowly avoided relegation last season and has been the driving force behind their improvement this time around, flourishing in a new-look side following an impressive summer of recruitment.
The 25-year-old has scored six goals in addition to providing a further 10 assists, with only Harry Kane having registered more assists amongst all Premier League players.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 3, 2021
Grealish’s underlying statistics point to a continued rate of productivity with the midfielder leading the Premier League for key passes, chances created and progressive carries, the star having most often been utilised in a free role off the left-hand side of the Aston Villa attack.
His performances appear to have won over Gareth Southgate with Grealish impressing during his first appearances for England, starring during the autumn internationals to show he can be a key figure in the Three Lions’ side.
Grealish was hailed as the best player in the Premier League by West Ham manager David Moyes recently, an incredible compliment for Villa’s influential club captain who remains one of the most captivating players in the division.