We already know that finding new Lothar will be a monumental task and we might not even find the new incarnation of the midfield diva even with our best effort. In my previous post, I presented three of my candidates Atakan Attaynak, Danilo Cataldi and Fredrik Aursnes who fared with mixed results. While all had enjoyed a respectable career in 10 years since we started, only Attaynak showed glimpses of true star power during that time as compared to other two players I mentioned in my last post. Today we are going to have a look at three more players I picked as my test subjects when this experiment started.
#7 Leandro Silva (Krylja Sovetov)
After a couple of seasons playing on the second team, Silva headed east to Russia where he eventually found his footballing home for the most part of his career so far. Actually, he has played for the same team ever since leaving his native land for Russia. Silva has been an integral part of their lineup starting 226 league games for The Wings. He has also scored 25 times in the span of 9 seasons with the team. While touted as “rabochaya loshad” for Krylja faithful, Silva never has risen to true greatness in Russia.
Looking at the average rating for the 32-year old Silva, he really does not show any signs of greatness in any part of his career. There are few moments of something that leaves so much to be desired but for the most part, he was a fringe first sheet player. Even though his current campaign(2026) has had a very good start his career average is 6,8 and that average is very much affected by 2 seasons where he enjoyed the high times of his career. Silva is by no means a bad player but he has fallen very short when considering the next Lothar.
#6 Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka had just moved to Arsenal when I started writing this post and with the total fee of 45m€ they certainly had some expectations for him. How did he actually do?
Xhaka played for the Gunners for a total of 121 matches in a little over 5 seasons and scored a goal per season while wearing the red jersey. While it might not seem that much as he also had only 9 assists during his time at the Emirates stadium, there are other things you can measure success also.
I´d say three consecutive titles in the top flight spells success pretty well here. After having a season of taking a break, they came back into the form with a double in 2021. Having already won a couple of titles with his native Basel and FIFA U17 – World Cup, it is quite apparent that he knows how to win. A very rare feat on a player. During his time with Arsenal, he posted a quite modest 6.7 average in 5 full seasons.
During his time with Arsenal, he, however, posted a quite modest 6.7 average in 5 full seasons. So he wasn´t the blazing bolt of awe while in Arsenal but in the 2021/22 season he made a surprise move and switched to Newcastle with a €16.25m. Looking really good in the 3 seasons he played for the Magpies, he posted a commanding 7.27 average with 4 goals and 12 assists. He eventually got to see the other end of the spectrum with Newcastle and was involved in a team that got relegated from the EPL at the end of 2024 season. After that, he was pocket change for the Huaxia Xingfu when he moved to the northeast of China with €2.7m exchange. Now the 33-year old Swiss has two full seasons under his belt in the far far east and he has been helping the rising club with his 7.32 average and 5 goals with 9 assists. Xhaka also has been very well included by his national side being capped for 139 times for the Swiss. He might have slowed a bit but have you seen 33-old looking this good lately?
#5 João Mário (Arsenal)
Ok, after I have presented you this fellow who started his journey in Internazionale, who might just understand why Arsenal was keen to let Xhaka go.
I have to be honest with this one. In Joao Mario, we might just have a contender. He only played 3 seasons for the Nerazzurri and fans will remember them as golden. Scoring 17 goals with 13 assists and posting 7.31 average he was ever present when Inter clinched UEFA Europa League in 2018. In 2019, Inter made some profit on their €40M investment when PSG came to the office stating their claim. A €51M exchange sealed the beginning of what would be a magnificent era in the French club football.
Joao Mario played 7 seasons in PSG being their first sheet participant for the whole time. He posted 7.45 average in 219 he played for the club. Scoring 38 times and having 35 assists he enjoyed a monstrous season 2021/22 having a 7.87 average in 34 matches and mastering the midfield with 10 goals and assists apiece. PSG was a titan during the era of Mario. 3 league titles, 6 cup wins, 1 Champions League win, 1 UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup title.
It was Arsenal who picked up the 33-year old in the summer of 2026 with €1.5M.
The World-Class Midfielder has scored 14 times for his beloved Selecção das Quinas and was included in the squad that won Euro 2016. He included FIFA Confederations Cup in summer 2017.
As Joao Mario still continues to find new challenges for himself, he has already built a highly illustrious career which you can compare to anyone ever played the game of football.
We have now gone through six players of our original list of 10 candidates for the next Lothar Matthaus. The results have varied and some of my picks have proved out to be busts in the sense we are having this experiment but I didn´t initially think that we could present 10 players with everyone having a career to remember but so far Joao Mario is the only one in the same region with Matthaus. In part three we go over the last 4 players that will challenge the spot Joao Mario is holding now. Stay tuned.