Top 10 Best Defensive Midfielders In The World (2023)

Rodri best defensive midfielders in the world LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Rodri of Manchester City during The FA Community Shield match between Manchester City against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 06, 2023 in London, England
(Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Defensive midfielders oftentimes are not given the applause they deserve, and most times, they are lumped up with the other midfielders without proper precise recognition.

However, some exceptional talent from previous teams, the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Claude Makalélé, Edgar Davis, Didier Deschamps, Ronald Koeman, Roy Keane, Alex Song, Sergio Busquets, and John Mikel Obi have all given their fellow defensive midfielders the recognition they deserve.

N’Golo Kanté is one player who has taken the role to another level, inscribing his name as one of the greatest ball-winners, anchormen, tough-tacklers, and water carriers around in the history of defensive midfielders.

In today’s article, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you the top 10 best defensive midfielders at the moment.

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.

This position is played by players with high stamina as they often have to cover wide areas on the pitch, tracking back to defend and also driving the ball forward through the center of the pitch.

The defensive midfielder has to consistently break up opposition attacks and help to create counterattacking opportunities for their team.

Top 10 Best Defensive Midfielders In The World (2023)

Now, here are the 10 best defensive midfielders in the world, in no particular order.

1. Rodri

Rodri best defensive midfielders in the world LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Rodri of Manchester City during The FA Community Shield match between Manchester City against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 06, 2023 in London, England
(Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Rodrigo Hernández Cascante, the Spaniard, excelled as a defensive midfielder under the most defensive-minded coach at Atletico Madrid, Diego Simeone.

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 currently Manchester City.

The 27-year-old broke out at Villarreal and was shipped to Madrid, where he spent barely a year before attracting Pep Guardiola’s interest at Manchester City.

He’s already become something of a legend at Manchester City, scoring the goal that helped them win the UEFA Champions League last season. After Man City won the treble, Rodri was named Champions League player of the year.

The big plus to Rodri’s performances is his ability to use two feet, his intelligent ability to read the game and his pass accuracy. The Spaniard regularly maintains an impressive passing accuracy of 91-92%.

His physical strength and height make him a formidable player who often emerges victorious in tackles, challenges against opponents, and aerial duels. Squawka reports that he has a 73% success rate at tackles on opponents and has won all of his aerial duels during the 2022/23 season.

He is already considered to be one of the best midfielders in the world.

2. Casemiro

Casemiro best defensive midfielders MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: Casemiro of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on August 14, 2023 in Manchester, England.
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

It was difficult to expect Casemiro to fit into the Premier League at the age of 31 when he left Real Madrid to join Manchester United.

Nevertheless, after a decade of marshaling Real Madrid’s midfield, in which they won the UEFA Champions League five times, there was evidence that the Brazilian still has it in him to play at the top level.

Casemiro is known for his strong tackling, ability to get into spaces to score crucial goals when the front men are having a bad day, and the intelligence to also read the game without breaking too much of a sweat.

It is also highly possible that Casemiro would play at that level of quality well into his late 30s.

Apart from his versatility that sees him fit for any position in the midfield, he can also function in the defense as well as as a box-to-box midfielder. He also has a penchant for scoring goals.

3. Aurélien Tchouaméni

Aurélien Tchouaméni best defensive midfielders in football BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 12: Aurelien Tchouameni of Real Madrid during the La Liga EA Sports match between Athletic de Bilbao v Real Madrid at the San Mames Stadium on August 12, 2023 in Bilbao Spain
(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni is one of the younger and vibrant players who indirectly saw and initiated the ushering out and exits of some veteran players like Casemiro from Real Madrid.

Aside from his ability to screen the defense, Tchouameni has a bright future that will be too hot for many to handle.

Tchouaméni is a dominant force on the defensive end of the pitch, with his ability to win the ball being his most notable attribute.

He is not only highly effective in this regard, but also has a wide variety of techniques at his disposal, including tackling, intercepting, aerially contesting, and recovering loose balls.

The former Monaco midfielder thrives on being in the thick of the action, and is frequently involved in duels, averaging 12.9 per 90 minutes in La Liga last season.

Although his physical prowess is impressive, it is his ability to read the game that truly sets him apart in midfield.

He has a remarkable talent for anticipating passes, using his speed to close in on opponents, and lunging in to intercept passes before they reach their intended targets.

Thanks to his exceptional awareness, he is also able to position himself effectively when his team is not in possession, allowing him to stay close to opponents and the ball.

4. Declan Rice

Declan Rice LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Declan Rice of Arsenal looks on during the pre-season friendly match between Arsenal FC and AS Monaco at Emirates Stadium on August 02, 2023 in London, England.
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

By the middle of the 2022/2023 season, it was evident that Declan Rice would inevitably leave West Ham United for a bigger club in the summer.

This was because the defensive midfielder was showing unbelievable strength, stamina, and leadership quality in the midfield for the Hammers.

He also did the same In the midfield for England at the World Cup, as he played every single game at the tournament for the Three Lions.

Rice eventually left West Ham United for Arsenal in the summer in a big-money move and a record transfer, but not without winning the UEFA Europa Conference League for West Ham.

Declan Rice is a quality football player, excelling in both tackling and aerial combat. He is two-footed, able to maneuver his opponents in either direction and quickly sprint after them if they attempt to beat him for speed.

He is a formidable opponent in one-on-one situations, often slowing down attacks and allowing his teammates to recover their positions before any damage can be done.

His top-notch anticipation, agility, and ball-winning skills, makes him adept at counter-pressing and frequently recovers possession following a loss.

He then quickly distributes the ball to his more attacking teammates. Additionally, Rice is an excellent deep-lying playmaker, with superb ball-carrying ability, combining his game awareness with superior technique to create opportunities for his team from deep positions.

5. Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich top defensive midfielders MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 27: Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Muenchen runs with a ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern München and FC Augsburg at Allianz Arena on August 27, 2023 in Munich, Germany.
(Photo by Christina Pahnke – sampics/Corbis via Getty Images)

Pricing Joshua Kimmich away from the hold of Bayern Munich would require more than just a record transfer fee.

The defensive midfielder is one of the very best in his position, not just because he plays for the German champions but also because he has shown over time the consistency to play at the top level and dominate the midfield irrespective of the opposition.

Interestingly, Joshua Kimmich started out as a fullback. Still, his transformation into a defensive midfielder is not only miraculous but also a testament that he was destined to be a defensive midfielder.

6. Moisés Caicedo

Moisés Caicedo best defensive midfielders LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Moises Caicedo of Chelsea passes the ball during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea FC at London Stadium on August 20, 2023 in London, England.
(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Here comes the newest and shiny defensive midfield toy for football big boys, Moises Caicedo, who was courted by almost all the big boys in the Premier League, from Liverpool to Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea, who eventually got his signature.

Caicedo played a key part in Brighton’s excellent 2022/23 season, helping the Seagulls register their highest-ever Premier League finish and qualify for Europe for first time in their history.

The 21-year-old, who joined Brighton on a low a couple of seasons back, has now moved to Stamford Bridge in one of the most pronounced transfer deals in the world, and it is scary to imagine what he would be like in his peak.

Moisés Caicedo is a tenacious defensive midfielder, who is able to regain possession and make crucial tackles. He is also capable of disrupting opposition attacks with his clever reading of the game, anticipation, and awareness.

He can also function as a box-to-box midfielder who covers every inch of the pitch.

His work rate, versatility, and attacking qualities make him an asset to any team and without a doubt one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

7. Manuel Locatelli

Manuel Locatelli best defensive midfielders TURIN, ITALY - AUGUST 27: Manuel Locatelli of Juventus looks on during the Serie A TIM match between Juventus and Bologna FC at Allianz Stadium on August 27, 2023 in Turin, Italy.
(Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

It wouldn’t do justice to the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso and some of the finest defensive midfielders to have come out of Italy not to have an Italian defensive midfielder on this list, and one fitting individual who is definitely world-class is Manuel Locatelli.

The 25-year-old did it with Sassuolo for several seasons before moving to Juventus, one of the biggest clubs in Italy.

He may not be getting the recognition he deserves, but with every game he plays for Juventus, there is no doubt that Locatelli is world-class for whoever is watching.

Locatelli is plays as a deep-lying midfielder, who sets the tempo for an attacking move just in front of the team’s defense, similar to his idol Andrea Pirlo.

This is due to his exceptional ability to create chances and control the tempo of his team’s play through his impressive passing range.

While Locatelli is not particularly fast, he is a graceful and quick-witted player with outstanding vision, passing, ball control, technique, and dribbling skills. He also possesses a powerful and accurate shot from long range.

In addition to his offensive capabilities, Locatelli’s reading of the game, defensive work-rate, tactical intelligence, and ball-winning abilities make him an ideal defensive midfielder.

8. Stanislav Lobotka

Stanislav Lobotka
(Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Slovakian midfielder Zambo Anguissa is one of the most underrated footballers in the world.

His strength and stamina is enviable, and he can be a thorn in the flesh of central and attacking midfielders.

The 28-year-old was one of the most important players as Napoli won the Scudetto in the 2022/23 season. His defensive contributions may have gone unnoticed by many, but his performances cemented his status as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

Stanislav Lobotka is a highly versatile midfielder who has demonstrated his proficiency in both deep-lying playmaking and central midfield roles.

His exceptional tackling skills and impressive work rate enable him to make significant contributions to the team’s defensive efforts. His tactical acumen and ability to anticipate the game have garnered admiration from both coaches and teammates alike.

Lobotka’s remarkable positional awareness and astute reading of the game have been invaluable to his success at Napoli.

He has a comprehensive understanding of the team’s defensive structure, consistently positioning himself to make crucial interceptions and tackles.

9. Thomas Partey

Thomas Partey best defensive midfielders in the world 2023 LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Thomas Partey of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium on August 12, 2023 in London, England
(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

It is hardly surprising that a player who played under Diego Simeone for six years has improved to be regarded as one of the best-ever defensive midfielders in football.

Thomas Partey is one of the unsung heroes of Arsenal’s failed Premier League attempt last season. While all the talks were on Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, there was one man doing the dirty job, Thomas Partey.

Furthermore, Thomas Partey has had to move to the right-back position to accommodate Declan Rice at Arsenal, and he’s not done badly there.

Partey highly disciplined and tactically intelligent, as he helps his team maintain a strong defensive shape and provide a solid foundation for their defense.

His passing range is also exceptional, allowing him to control the tempo of the game and dictate the flow of play.

10. Sergio Busquets

Sergio Busquets best MLS players CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 23: Sergio Busquets #5 of Inter Miami controls the ball during the second half of a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on August 23, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
(Photo by Jeff Dean/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Here comes the ultimate defensive midfielder in world football. Currently, he might be playing in the MLS alongside Messi at Inter Miami.

He might have passed his peak prime, but no one ever finessed the defensive midfield position and duty like Sergio Busquets.

For Barcelona, Sergio Busquets fitted into the position just like a glove, and it’s no wonder that with him in the central midfield position, Barcelona dominated teams they played against and won several titles.

He left Camp Nou as one of the most successful players to have featured for the Blaugrana, who will very well remember his best days as an unplayable defensive midfielder.

Even though he plays in the United States, he is not just one of the best MLS players, but still among the best defensive midfielders in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top 10 Best Wingers in the World (2023)
Vinicius Jr best wingers in the world BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 12: Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid reacts during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Athletic Club and Real Madrid CF at Estadio de San Mames on August 12, 2023 in Bilbao, Spain.

Top 10 Best Wingers in the World (2023)

Wingers are one exciting set of players to watch; apart from their speed, they

Top 10 Best Defenders In The World (2023)
Ronald Araújo best defenders in the world BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 8: Ronald Araujo of FC Barcelona during the match between Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur (Joan Gamper Trophy) at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2023 in Barcelona Spain

Top 10 Best Defenders In The World (2023)

There is a saying in football that goals win you games but defense win you

You May Also Like