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Name: Michael Essien
International Caps: 52
Michael Essien is the best defensive midfielder in world football.
Although the Chelsea star has been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons, he is still one of the elite players at his position. When fit and in good form, the Ghanaian is a dominant presence in midfield for both club and country.
Essien is the archetypal, modern defensive midfielder. The Chelsea star brings power, pace, athleticism and energy to the position. He marks opponents tightly and closes down the space well. Essien's tenacity and determination to break up opposition play make him a true ball-winner in midfield. The midfielder is relentless defensively, hounding opponents when in possession and making vital interceptions.
The Ghanaian has a tough-tackling and combative style of play. Essien shows great commitment in the challenge and hunger to win back possession. The midfielder uses his power and strength to shrug opponents off the ball and win the majority of 50-50 challenges.
In addition to his physical attributes and athleticism, the Chelsea star has good positioning and tactical awareness. Although he is tenacious in the challenge, the Ghanaian has exceptional technique with the standing and sliding tackle.
Essien has emerged as a world-class box-to-box midfielder, providing tireless running through the middle. The Ghanaian gets forward in support of the attack, and tracks back defensively as well. The combative midfielder has outstanding stamina, which allows him to play with such high energy. Essien's defensive determination and willingness to burst into the attack drives the team forward.
The Ghanaian arrives late in the box, providing a serious goal-scoring threat from distance. Essien hits a thunderous strike from long-range, and has an eye for the spectacular goal.
The dynamic midfielder has become one of the top box-to-box defensive midfielders in Europe. Essien's athleticism, work-rate and defensive skills make him the best enforcer in world football.
While Mascherano, De Rossi and Alonso were all serious contenders for the top spot, Essien has emerged as the best player at the position. Although the Chelsea star has recently struggled with injuries, he still claims the No. 1 spot in the rankings.
When healthy and in good form, Essien is the best defensive midfielder in the world. His powerful, combative and athletic style of play sets him apart from the other players on the list. The Chelsea star has unmatched energy and an exceptional work-rate, making him a commanding presence in midfield.
Essien's ability to drive the team forward makes him a special talent in midfield. The Ghanaian has unmatched energy, which allows him to be a force on both sides of the ball.
With his polished defensive qualities and physical attributes, the Chelsea star is a natural ball-winner. Essien may not be the most skilled or technically gifted player on the list, but he is a dynamic force in midfield.
Although Mascherano, De Rossi and Alonso have the tools to challenge for the No. 1 ranking, Essien edges them out with his tenacity, athleticism, engine and tackling ability. The Argentine captain has similar skills and tackling ability, but he does not contribute further up the pitch with late runs into the box, or have the Ghanaian's pace and power.
De Rossi may be better with the ball at his feet, but Essien edges out the Roma vice-captain with his athletic style of play, strength and speed. While Alonso is clearly the more technically gifted player, he lacks the defensive qualities to climb above the Chelsea star.
At 28 years of age, the Ghanaian is in his prime footballing years. Although he has struggled with injuries over the past few years, he is still a world-class talent.
The other top five players will continue to challenge for the top spot, but Essien is undoubtedly the No. 1 defensive midfielder in the world.