The best defensive midfielders of all time
Creating any list is a very challenging task, including the top 10 best defensive midfielders in football. However, we have done our best to include only the best players. Still, it is unlikely that a lot of people will agree with the same list as it is a topic where different people can have widely different opinions.
1- Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Sergio Busquets is undoubtedly one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. The 33-year-old is currently playing for Spanish giants Barcelona and also appears for the Spanish national side.
Sergio Busquets has achieved incredible success at Camp Nou, which is considered one of the best football stadiums in the world. He is a product of the famed La Masia youth academy. After only a single season with the Barcelona second team, he earned a promotion to the senior side. Since then, the Spaniard has been a very important figure for the Catalans. He has made over 400 league appearances for the Blaugrana, with ten goals to his name.
Busquets has the distinction of winning the Prince of Asturias Awards in 2010. Not only that, he also won the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit in 2011.
The 33-year-old was also part of the Spanish team that won the 2010 World Cup.
2- Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Casemiro currently plays for Real Madrid, which is one of the best clubs in the world. He also has the distinction of representing the Brazilian national team. The 30-year-old is often regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
Casemiro is a product of Sao Paulo youth academy. He rose through the ranks and earned his promotion to the first team in 2010.
The Brazilian initially joined Real Madrid on a loan deal in 2013 which was later made permanent. He has enjoyed incredible successes with the Spanish giants. During his time at Los Blancos, Casemiro has won fourteen major trophies. That includes four Champions League trophies, two La Liga titles, and a Copa del Rey. Not only that, he also helped his side to win the Supercopa de Espana and Club World Cup trophies. So far, the Brazilian has clocked up over 200 league appearances for Real, with 23 goals to his name.
The 30-year-old was also part of the Brazilian team that won the Copa America in 2019. He was also very instrumental in helping his side to win two UEFA Super Cups.
3- Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Eric Dier is currently on the books of Tottenham Hotspur who play in the Premier League. He is also considered one of the best defensive midfielders of modern times. Besides, the 28-year-old also plays for the England national side.
Eric Dier started his football career by joining the Sporting CP youth academy. He progressed through the youth ranks and earned his promotion to the senior side in 2012. His impressive performances attracted the attention of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs finally secured his signature in 2014.
Eric Dier was part of the team that reached the final of the Champions League in 2019, where they ultimately lost to Liverpool. Not only that, he also helped the side to reach the final of the Football League Cup in 2015. So far, the defensive player has made over 200 league appearances for Spurs, with ten goals to his name.
The English footballer also helped the Three Lions to win the third spot in the UEFA Nations League in 2019.
4- Javi Martinez (Qatar SC)
Javi Martinez is also one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He is currently on the books of Qatar SC. The 33-year-old also has the distinction of representing the Spanish national football team.
The amazing midfielder began his senior career with the Osasuna B team in 2005. He soon landed a move to Athletic Bilbao in the year 2006. He stayed at the club until 2012 before making the move to Bayern Munich in 2012.
Javi Martinez has the distinction of winning the La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year award in 2010. He was also part of the team that won the 2010 World Cup. Not only that, the highly-rated footballer also helped the national team to win the UEFA European Championship in 2012.
Javi Martinez enjoyed a greatly successful time at the Bundesliga side, helping them win nine league titles and two European Cups. He was also very instrumental in helping them win the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.
5- Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)
If we are making a list of the best defensive midfielders in football, then it is not possible to exclude Nemanja Matic. He currently plays for Manchester United, one of the richest football clubs in the world. The 33-year-old also represents the Serbian national football team.
Matic began his senior career with the Serbian outfit Kolubara in 2005. He saw a meteoric rise over the following years. The highly-rated footballer earned his first big break with Chelsea in 2014. He then landed a move to Manchester United in 2017. So far, the defensive midfielder has made over 100 league appearances with two goals to his name.
The amazing footballer has the distinction of winning the Manchester United Goal of the Season award in 2018. Not only that, he also bagged the Serbian Footballer of the Year twice in 2014 and 2015. The great midfielder also won the Premier League twice in 2015 and 2017 with Chelsea.
6- Steven Nzonzi (Al-Rayyan)
Steven Nzonzi hasn’t played for any big club during his football career. However, he is still undoubtedly one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
The 33-year-old is currently on the books of Qatari side Al-Rayyan. The amazing player also has the distinction of representing the French national side.
Steven Nzonzi began his professional football career with Amiens. He then landed a move to Blackburn Rovers in 2019.
The midfielder subsequently moved to Stoke City and Sevilla before having a spell at Italian outfit AS Roma.
Nzonzi recently won the Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in 2018. Not only that, he also won the La Liga Player of the Month award in 2017.
The French footballer also helped the national side to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Besides, Steven Nzonzi was also part of the Sevilla team that won the 2016 Europa League.
7- Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Ilkay Gundogan is also another big name on our list of the best defensive midfielders of football. The 31-year-old currently plays for Manchester City and the German national side.
Ilkay Gundogan started his football career at the VfL Bochum where he progressed through its youth ranks to earn promotion to the senior side in 2008.
His performances started attracting attention from some of the big clubs in the world. The German first landed a move to Nurnberg before joining Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester City, who are currently chasing Erling Haaland, also saw his enormous talent and decided to bring him to the Etihad Stadium in 2016. He has been very successful during his time at the Citizens.
The highly-rated midfielder earned his place in the ESM Team of the Year in 2013. He also helped the Citizens to win three Premier League titles in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
Ilkay Gundogan also won the FA Cup and the EFL Cup with Manchester City. Not only that, he was part of the Borussia Dortmund team who won the Bundesliga title in 2012.
8- Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)
Frenkie de Jong is also considered one of the best defensive midfielders in football. He currently plays for La Liga giants Barcelona and also represents the Netherlands national football team.
De Jong started his football journey with Willem II before joining Jong Ajax. He landed a big move to Ajax in 2016, where his stocks enormously grew.
The Dutch footballer was part of the Ajax team that reached the semi-final of the Champions League in 2019. The amazing player has won several prestigious awards during his career. He won the Dutch Football Talent of the Year and UEFA Midfielder of the season in 2019.
Frenkie de Jong also helped the national side to reach the final of the UEFA Nations League in 2019.
9- Fabinho (Liverpool)
Fabinho currently plays for the Premier League giants Liverpool. He also represents the Brazil national team.
The Brazilian began his footballing journey with Fluminense before joining Rio Ave. The amazing player landed a big move to Monaco in 2015. His impressive performances attracted the attention of Liverpool who signed him in 2018.
Fabinho has helped the Reds to win the Premier League title and the Champions League.
10- Sergi Roberto (Barcelona)
Sergi Roberto is also regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world of football. He is currently on the books of Barcelona and he also represents the Spanish national team. Besides playing the CDM role, the Spaniard can also be deployed as a full-back or a central midfielder.
Sergi Roberto is also a product of the famed La Masia youth academy. He rose through the youth ranks and earned his promotion to the senior side in 2010. The amazing midfielder has the distinction of winning the Catalan Footballer of the Year in 2017. He also helped the Catalans to win La Liga six times and Copa del Rey five times plus two Champions Leagues.
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