The French midfielder has been one of the players of the World Cup, having operated in a rather unnatural deeper midfield role but still being the most advanced midfielder in possession for Les Bleus. While he hasn’t scored goals, he has been vital in winning the ball back, pressing and conducting play.
He has the highest Expected Assisted Goals in the campaign, which shows his importance when it comes to dictating play in the final third. He has the joint highest number of assists, tied with Leo Messi and Harry Kane. The World Cup could prove to be revolutionary in his career.
While Fernandes usually operated on the right for Portugal, his natural tendency to be a number ten makes him a fit for this category. He was vital for Portugal throughout the tournament, as he assisted thrice and scored two goals. He had the third-highest Expected Assists tally in the tournament, just behind Messi.
While there are tactical reasons for why Fernandes played on the right and he had some awkward moments, his goal contributions helped Portugal sail through to the knockout stages.
Neymar did miss two Brazil games due to an ankle injury and only returned in the game against South Korea, but his impact on the pitch despite not being fully fit was quite impressive. He was always on the same wavelength as those around him and he still combined very well with them, leading to the great goal against Croatia in extra-time.
While Brazil did go out and Neymar did meet eventual disappointment, he equalled Pele’s record for the most number of goals for the country and he deserves credit for that. If not for the injury, he could have displayed his prowess much more.
Daichi Kamada’s performances in the number ten role were vital to Japan’s successes in the tournament, even though the Asian outfit went out in the Round of 16 following a penalty shootout defeat to Croatia. He was important in receiving between the lines and helping Japan play on the break, while also playing 13 passes into the final third. He also created five shot-creation actions from live ball situations, the second most in the Japan side.
While the number ten position is a dying art, Kamada offered a view into how a pure number ten operates as he stayed in the dangerous areas between the opposition defence and midfield.
While Gavi was a disappointment for Spain, Pedri had a better tournament and while he isn’t a number ten, he was Spain’s most advanced midfielder on the pitch. Out of all Spain players, he received the highest number of touches and he was crucial in receiving the ball between the lines.
He played 71 passes into the final third, which is well more than any other player in the tournament so far even though Spain haven’t played since the Round of 16 of the World Cup. He also played three through balls, only behind Griezmann so far in the tournament.