Real Madrid have one of the finest midfield trios ever seen. Together, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro three-peated the Champions League and have complemented each other so perfectly that you cannot possibly think of a better midfield trio in this generation. As football has adapted, so have these three men, as they remain among the best midfielders in the world.
Yet they fail to get the mainstream recognition that their consistently world-class play has merited. Modric, at least, has a Ballon d’Or to his name. But his fellow legendary conductor, Toni Kroos, has yet to receive the same plaudits.
In fact, he was snubbed entirely from the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or this year, whereas players like Simon Kjaer made the list. No disrespect to Kjaer, who is one of Serie A’s top defenders and a real leader for Milan, but he is nowhere near Kroos’ quality.
Right now, Kroos is in stunning form, and he’s been impeccable throughout the year. Kroos completes nearly 90 percent of his long balls and is a calming presence in midfield who has picked apart so many teams this year. Just ask Liverpool fans what it was like going up against him.
As if being snubbed off the entire Ballon d’Or list wasn’t bad enough, another ranking left off the former World Cup winner. ESPN FC’s top 100 players list ranked the top 10 players at each position. Kroos was not even in the top 10 midfielders.
ESPN doesn’t think Toni Kroos is even a top 10 midfielder
Let me repeat that again. ESPN, which owns the rights to La Liga, does not think Kroos is one of the top 10 midfielders in the world. Preposterous.
I mean, they actually had the gall to put Frenkie de Jong ahead of him. De Jong is a talented young midfielder, but nothing about his 2021 merits top 10 consideration. There are other midfielders in La Liga who play for less-known clubs who had better years. Look no further than Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad.
These lists are about visibility and generating discussion, as opposed to ranking players on merit. But it is especially puzzling, then, that Modric and Casemiro were ranked on the list, yet Kroos was left off despite being the best of the three and being well-known. Everyone should know a guy who has won the World Cup for Germany and three Champions Leagues for Real Madrid, in addition to the Champions League with Bayern Munich nearly a decade ago.
Yet for all he has accomplished and for as good as he is year after year, Kroos still goes underrated. He may very well be the best passer in the world, however, large media outlets like ESPN do not recognize him as a top 10 player at his own position. Regardless of past accomplishments, he is playing the best football of his career right now after recovering from pubalgia. And he was at least as brilliant before that.
What more does Kroos have to do in order to get some respect? It is not as if he is the victim of playing in a league or with a team that mainstream outlets do not follow. So it truly is as head-scratching as it is frustrating to see Kroos left off so many shortlists.
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I guess it’s true what they say. If you do your job consistently, don’t make much fuss, and put the team first, you get overlooked. You get underrated for doing exactly what everyone says is ideal from a player, especially a midfielder. And that’s a damn shame.