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10 best defensive midfielders in world football

In the modern game, a defensive midfielder is required to be at their very best for the full 90 minutes, running with their engine on full blast.

They need to be relentless pressers, able to read every situation imaginable but also be talented on the ball, capable of intricately stroking it around at close range or picking a long-range pass.

Often, it’s hard to gain recognition in the best sides around the world if you play the anchor role, but every great team often has a ‘number six’ keeping the lights on – you know, making things tick.

The fun bit, for us anyway, is the debate around who the very best in the business is because there are inevitably differing opinions about who is the top dog.

So, because those kinds of debates are what we thrive on, we present the 10 players who are the best in the business right now – primarily based on current form and standing at the highest level, taking into account injuries and excluding those who typically operate as a more rounded ‘central’ midfielder.

10. Marcelo Brozovic

Inter’s resurgence under Antonio Conte and continued progression with Simone Inzaghi owes much to the consistent brilliance of Marcelo Brozovic.

Always regarded as a capable and accomplished midfielder, he’s assumed the role of dropping deepest in I Nerazzurri’s central three and is the best in the business in Serie A for what he offers.

9. Konrad Laimer

Konrad Laimer seems destined to join Bayern Munich at some point or another, and it’s easy to understand their willingness to bring him to Bavaria.

Ralf Rangnick recommended him to the hierarchy too, though his suggestions have seemingly fallen on deaf ears.

8. Sergio Busquets

have won eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with Busquets at the base of their midfield, and though can take 99% of the credit for their success during that period, Busquets has more than pulled his weight.

He still dictates play with his delightful body feints and swift turns, even if Father Time is catching up with him. He remains one of the last vestiges of an era gone by in Catalonia.

7. Aurelien Tchouameni

long scouted Aurelien Tchouameni during his time at Monaco and must have been impressed by the amount of defensive work – particularly tackles and interceptions – he gets through, though his progressive game isn’t half shabby either.

With a €100m price tag to live up to, expectations are high for the newest Galactico.

6. Declan Rice

Declan Rice is improving at a phenomenal rate, leading West Ham’s ascension as European regulars.

Few players can match the England international’s sublime tackling rate, while he is also starting to become a force at the other end of the pitch in attack.

No wonder Manchester United and Chelsea have been sniffing around him.

5. N’Golo Kante

It’s been a rollercoaster couple of years for N’Golo Kante at Chelsea, but there’s no disputing that he’s back to his very best.

The Frenchman has everything you want from a defensive-minded midfield player. An efficient ball-winner, he can run all day long, is a tenacious and committed team player and is so often the driving force behind blistering counter-attacks.

His only weakness is that he’s far more brittle nowadays and he can barely keep himself fit.

4. Casemiro

As midfield destroyers go, Casemiro is unplayable, while he has a level of class on the ball that most can only dream of. His importance to Real Madrid was undeniable and it will be interesting to see how they fare without him.

Will he be able to keep up appearances at Manchester United?

3. Fabinho

Fabinho took his time to get up to speed at Liverpool, but once he settled into a groove it was quickly apparent just how good he is.

A resilient shield that protects the Reds’ back four, his reading of the game is second to none – evidenced by Jurgen Klopp opting to move him to centre-back during the most unique injury crisis last season.

When he’s not playing in his favoured defensive midfield role, Liverpool are far worse off, and you’d arguably go as far as to say Fabinho is one of their most indispensable players.

2. Rodri

It’s fair comment to say that Rodri’s first season at was a little underwhelming.

The Cityzens had opted to trigger the £62.6m release clause in the Spaniard’s Atletico Madrid contract, but adjusting to the speed of the Premier League proved difficult for the then 23-year-old.

Fast forward to the present day and Rodri has elevated his game back to the highest level, showing his class and inheriting Fernandinho’s throne.

1. Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich is one of the most versatile top-level players in the game today. There’s very little he and his Bayern side can’t do, evidenced by their 2020 Champions League success and continued Bundesliga dominance.

Much of that has been down to the German’s brilliance at the base of midfield, ticking things over and breaking up play on an unprecedented level.

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