The defensive midfield position is an essential position in football. Defensive midfielders form the link between attack and defense. They can help a team defensively and form a formidable wall against the opponent during a goal attempt. This article will discuss the seven best defensive midfielders in the world today.
What is the role of a defensive midfielder?
The defensive midfielder’s role is to protect the defensive backline, support the midfield, and win balls from their opponents.
Players play this position with high stamina as they often have to cover wide areas on the pitch, tracking back to defend and driving the ball forward through the center.
The defensive midfielder has to consistently break up opposition attacks and help to create counterattacking opportunities for their team.
Here are the seven best defensive midfielders in the world, in no particular order.
1. Casemiro (Manchester United)
Real Madrid’s five UEFA Champions League titles in the past couple of years would never have happened if Casemiro had been missed.
He formed a solid trio with Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and German player Toni Kroos.
He played 43 games for the Los Blancos last season in the La Liga, and UEFA Champions League combined. They also won the double.
Apart from his versatility that sees him fit for any position in the midfield, he can also function in the defense and as a box-to-box midfielder. He also has a penchant for scoring goals.
The 30-year-old is not just the best defensive midfielder in football but also among the best midfielders in the world.
2. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Kimmich has been compared to several top German midfielders from the past, and he himself has named some of the best in that position to have ever played in the defensive midfield position as his inspiration, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso, and Xavi.
Kimmich has the technical abilities for both defensive and offensive plays, and it tells on his statistics for Bayern Munich in terms of goals.
He has 25 goals in over 200 games for the Bundesliga champions. For the proper perspective, he had 3 goals and 11 assists in 28 Bundesliga games.
3. Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Sergio Busquets has inked his name as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time have marshaled Barcelona’s midfield during their most successful times.
He has over 400 appearances for Barcelona since 2008 and over 136 for the Spanish national team.
Busquets has won the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euros, UEFA Champions League, and La Liga at Barcelona.
However, while his style as a defensive Midfielder is strong, and he hardly loses possession, Barcelona’s reign wasn’t entirely all him as he had the legendary Xavi and Iniesta for support in the middle of the park.
Nevertheless, his quality is never doubted, albeit he is usually underrated.
4. Marco Verratti (PSG)
Veratti has been PSG’s backbone since 2012, making over 250 appearances for the team and winning records of Ligue 1 titles.
However, the catch is that Veratti can play with both feet, is agile, and is one of the few central and defensive midfielders that can pack dribbling skills.
Unfortunately, Verratti can be rough and reckless in the tackle, but this does not diminish his versatility in the middle of the pack.
The Italian midfielder is also press-resistant, combative, and hardworking.
5. Rodri (Manchester City)
Rodri’s quality is underlined by the caliber of teams he has played for in his career. The Spaniard has featured for Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, and Manchester City.
The 26-year-old is great at keeping possession, winning tackles, and driving forward to score goals.
He has won the Premier League with Manchester City, having joined them in 2019. In the 2021/22 Premier League season, he scored 7 goals and provided 2 assists.
6. Fabinho (Manchester City)
Fabinho is more appreciated for his cover for Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson whenever the fullbacks move forward.
Asides from that, he’s a strong player, agile, and can always win the ball and turn defense into attack in a split second, making him one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.
Although he is prone to throwing himself into tackles, he is also a great passer and excellent at pressing higher up the pitch.
Fabinho joined Liverpool in 2018 from Monaco and has featured over 120 times for Liverpool winning the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. He scored 5 goals and provided 1 assist in the 2021/22 EPL season.
7. Guido Rodríguez (Real Betis)
Guido Rodríguez may be quite obscure to some football fans, but he’s one to reckon with when it comes to the defensive midfield position.
He joined Real Betis from Mexico’s Club America in 2020 and has made 84 appearances at the La Liga club since then.
His performances recently linked to Manchester United in the summer transfer window. The ball-winning defender has a contract till 2024 with Betis.
What makes Guido Rodríguez one of the best defensive midfielders in the world is his ability to win possession when defending one-on-one. He is great at making well-timed tackles and uses sound judgment to close down opponents.
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