Rightly or wrongly, midfielders have a monopoly on just about every major individual award in our game, similar to an NFL quarterback.

It makes sense to a degree, they are situated where the ball resides for the majority of the contest - in the middle - but must also cover the entire field to find the footy wherever required.

In turn, they typically clock in the most kms, accumulate the most touches and fill up the stat sheet more than any other typer of player on the ground.

They play a variety of roles - in & under the contest feeding the outside runners, exploding out of packs with strength, speed and agility, plus using the ball skilfully and efficiently by hand or foot.

Some are suited to a particular role more than others, making it hard to definitively rank one player over another using stats or achievements. Patrick Cripps and Nick Daicos both fall under the midfielder category but carry a 12cm & 15kg size difference and dominate in vastly different ways on the ground.

We must look beyond just the numbers which may favour a Tom Green, or the eye-test which may favour a Jordan De Goey to decide on number one.

Instead, we need a rich tapestry of impact, stats, moments, value, performance and pedigree to judge who holds the crown as the league's best midfielder.



10. Tom Liberatore

Here is a player who has been criminally underrated his entire career and may still be so here on this list.

One could easily argue no one is better at their job in the competition than 'Libba', the hard-nosed contest machine who you'd back over just about anyone in a one-on-one scrap.

Once again he could not crack the All-Australian side in 2023 - a career-best year for a 31-year-old, averaging 27 disposals (15 contested), a league-best eight clearances per game and the second-most pressure acts at 30 per game.

He does the dirty work in the Bulldogs' midfield, allowing superstars Marcus Bontempelli and Adam Treloar clean use inside 50.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Tom Liberatore of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 02 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Carlton Blues at Marvel Stadium on March 24, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

It's painful not placing him higher on the list, but understandable given the champion names ahead.

Liberatore fanatics - in which there are plenty - may find solace in knowing just a few of the players who have been left out to make way for their hero, including Patrick Cripps, Tom Green, Tim Taranto, Caleb Serong and Josh Dunkley.