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Who is the ‘Chosen One’ to complete Gareth Southgate’s England midfield puzzle?

Because obviously a creative midfielder will make us the best team in the world...

England are just one creative midfielder away from world dominance.

Well, that’s not strictly true.

But it has become apparent that the Three Lions’ most glaring absentee is a technical No10 with an eye for a killer pass.

For all Jordan Henderson’s industry, the Liverpool midfielder does not possess the creativity of a Christian Eriksen or a Thiago Alcantara.

*checks passport*

AFP
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*checks passport*

Such a player would not make England flawless, but they would certainly make Gareth Southgate’s job considerably easier.

So, who are the candidates?

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

RLC

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RLC

The hulking 22-year-old maintains possession terrifically well when on form.

However, there is still a sense that he’s a often too conservative and readily takes the easy option.

This is not necessarily a bad thing of course, his ability to travel with the ball makes a useful asset for Southgate.

But is he the mythical creative to inspire England to the next level? Probably not.

James Maddison

Next in line?

Getty - Contributor
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Next in line?

If surely only a matter of when not if Leicester’s No10 will play for England.

He’s followed up an inspired Championship campaign at Norwich with a confident start to Prem life with Leicester.

Maddison’s keenness to get on the ball and influence the game will stand him in good stead.

He follows Barcelona’s mantra of ‘receive, pass, offer, receive, pass, offer’ and does not shy away from line-breaking throughballs.

At just 21-years-old he is still someway off his peak and will surely get his chance to fill the hole in England’s midfield.

At this stage, he’s got as much chance as anyone of fulfilling the ‘chosen one’ prophecy.

Lewis Cook

World’s best grandson

PA:Press Association
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World’s best grandson

Another player already in and around the fringes of the England set-up.

Bournemouth’s passmaster is a mighty fine player and, as skipper of the side that won the Under-20 World Cup in 2017, he has the honour of being the only England captain other than Bobby Moore to lift a World Cup.

However, he doesn’t quite fit the profile required.

Cook is best deployed as a deep-lying playmaker and so is often too far away from the forwards to provide the killer pass Southgate’s side have lacked at times.

More international caps await, but he’s not the missing piece.

Jack Wilshere

Unhappy hammer

Reuters
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Unhappy hammer

We include the former Golden Boy of English football as a courtesy.

Truth is, Wilshere has had his chance.

Tipped by many as a future 100-cap legend, the former Arsenal playmaker has not bloomed into the player we had hoped.

It’s not all his fault of course — injuries have ravaged his body and it was always going to be difficult to live up to the expectation brewed by the media and fans.

Sorry Jack, we were wrong.

Harry Winks

It’s been a while…

PA:Press Association
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It’s been a while…

Much of what we wrote about Cook also applies to Winks.

There’s every chance the Spurs No8 may develop into a more advanced, creative type.

But from what we’ve seen so far in his career, he suits the deep-lying metronomic role better.

Mature beyond his years, Winks is more likely to succeed Henderson than add a new dynamic.

Jonjo Shelvey

We see you, Jonjo

Getty Images - Getty
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We see you, Jonjo

There are few better long passers than Shelvey in the Premier League.

Is that enough to justify a return to international football? We’re not so sure.

Again, he generally operates deeper and is not known for occupying the gaps between an opposition’s midfield and defence.

His raking long balls would give England something different, but not what they need most.

Phil Foden

Lion cub

PA:Press Association
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Lion cub

Still just 18-years-old, the Man City youngster is still incredibly fresh.

A standout performer for England’s youth teams, Foden seems to have a natural creativity rarely found in English players.

Exposure to Pep Guardiola’s tutelage can only be a good thing for England, who could use some Catalan influence.

Maintaining a fearless approach to the game is key for Foden — many players become more conservative as they get older.

The road to success if paved for Foden and, given England’s current requirements, he may well get his chance sooner rather than later.


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