World Football: Ranking the 10 Best Defensive Midfielders
The defensive midfield role is easily the most underrated and undervalued position in football. The amount of work a defensive midfielder contributes to a team is invaluable. Defensive midfielders often are forced to fulfill the physical roles for their team, alongside aiding their defenders as well as also contributing in attack.
Whilst strikers and wingers will dazzle with their tricks and speed, claiming the rewards for the team's success due to their numerous goals, and the more technical, attacking midfielders will reap praise for their efforts of inch perfect passing and movements, defensive midfielders will quietly complete their job week in week out.
So in recognition, this article will rank the 10 best defensive midfielders in World Football.
10. Nigel De Jong
The Manchester City holding man is a consistent performer whose efforts are often overshadowed due to the immense amount of attacking array City boast due to their never ending funds. The 25 year old has also been a vital aspect of the Netherlands national team, and the former Hamburg SV man was an influential and integral player in the Oranje's impressive 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.
Although De Jong does have a tendency to incorporate rash, dangerous challenges into his play which have resulted in injuries and suspension. The Dutchman is blessed with exceptional touch that compliments his tenacious yet precious tackling.
9. Daniele De Rossi
The World Cup winning Italian is arguably one of the elegant and effective defensive midfielders of the past decade. De Rossi's strong tackling and incisive passing enables him to not only close down attacks with ease, but also benefit his team greatly in attack.
The AS Roma starlet has graced pitches all through Europe with his skill, physicality, and form close to 10 years now and has been the focus point in the AS Rome midfield. The 27 year old is a tremendously gifted player who has achieved monumental success along with being regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in World Football.
8. Gareth Barry
The English midfield is a natural leader and a natural performer. Gareth Barry's consistent efforts for the last number of years have ensured the 29 year old has become renown for his calm, cool, composed performances as a holding midfielder.
His current time at Manchester City has not been quite up to his usual standards, as he has struggled with consistentency and minor injuries. However, his recent years as Aston Villa's captain and focal point of the midfield are not to be denied.
The English international was a superb midfielder, forming a gallant partnership with former Villa manager Martin O'Neil that saw the Villains regain promise and become one of the stronger teams in England, heaping severe pressure on the "Big Four" to perform at their peak.
Barry's versatility enabled him to play strongly at all positions in the defence which benefits and highlights his success as a defensive midfielder. The Brighton & Hove Albion youth is an admirable midfielder, hence his unblemished career.
7. Sami Khedira
The German starlet is a workhorse of a midfielder who covers phenomenal yards as well as also being a technically gifted playmaker. The 23 year old has been an outstanding asset for German giants Vfb Stuggart where he dominated as a defensive midfielder.
Khedira then had an impressive 2010 World Cup which furthered his promise, prompting an offer from Spanish giants Real Madrid in the recent summer. Khedira is blessed with threatening speed and great aerial presence that allows the young gun to be a hugely imposing presence. Alongside those admirable traits, Khedira is a deft passer who boasts a rare ability to cut open defences with ease. Furthermore, at only 23 Khedira’s future looks incredibly bright.
6. Yaya Toure
The Ivorian is a deadly physical midfielder with a commanding presence along with a terrific passing range. Toure's ability to cover phenomenal ground and make inch perfect tackles as well as providing his team with an extra playmaker and defender is invaluable and ensures why he is regarded so highly.
At 6'4" Toure is an imposing figure blessed with great speed and skill. Having already adapted well to the English Premier League and completed a move to big spenders City in the Summer, Yaya Toure is sure to soon enforce his presence throughout England similar to what he achieved with Spanish kings Barcelona.
5. Javier Mascherano
The Argentine captain has proven his calibre and skill in the English Premier League whilst performing for West Ham and Liverpool. The 26 year old is a tenacious and sublime midfielder with a strenuous tackle, superb vision, and natural playmaking skills.
Currently with Spanish kings Barcelona, furthering his worth in the La Liga. Mascherano has proven he can play with and against the best at the highest class. He is blessed with an efficient passing range and deceiving strength that combines impressively with a strong array of traits that enable him to be a ferocious, yet elegant midfielder.
4. Sergio Busquets
Since making his debut for Barcelona in 2008, Sergio Busquets has gone from strength to strength as a defensive midfield, enforcing his presence onto both the Barcelona and Spanish XI's as well as succeeding and achieving a host of awards and trophies including the Champions League, La Liga, and the World Cup.
At only the tender age of 22, Busquets has a glistening future and is already one of Europe's most effective and consistent midfielders. The Spaniard boast great strength and a powerful header which makes enables him to become an extra defender in the Barcelona line up. Busquet’s work ethic is also tremendously impressive along with his imposing, effective slide tackle.
Sergio Busquets is said to be worth €80 million should any clubs be interested.
3. Alexandre Song
In recent seasons the Arsenal midfielder has matured and grown emphatically under the guidance of Arsene Wenger and has now become one of the most consistent, toughest, and strongest midfielders in World Football.
The Cameroon international ability to play as a central defender has ensured he gains the needed physical traits to compete as a World class defensive midfielder. The 23 year old completes a monumental amount of work each game as he cuts down opposition attacks as well as constantly aiding his inexperienced defenders.
2. Xabi Alonso
The Spaniard has performed at the highest peak in the World’s most pressurising and toughest leagues, having proven himself for Liverpool, where the 28 year old won the Champions League, and in the La Liga with a variety of sides including current side Real Madrid.
Alonso is renowned for his calmness and composure around the ball along with his subtle and well-timed tackles. The former Liverpool midfielder played in every game for Spain during their recent World Cup success, where Alonso was considered one of their strongest performers.
Although praise does neglect “Xabi” on occasions, his efforts are close to match winning and there is no denying his calibre or skill.
1. Michael Essien
Undoubtedly Michael Essien is the best defensive midfielder in World Football. Despite ongoing injury problems, the Chelsea midfielder is an immense force with a superb array of passing, tricks, strength, and speed. The Ghana captain has been at the heart of the Chelsea midfield for a number of years now, and is an influential reason for their success.
Boasting tremendous strength and energy, the 27 year old not only completes endless amounts of defensive work, but he is also a constant threat in attack ensuring he is a complete midfielding package. Few will argue that Michael Essien is considered the best defensive midfielder in World Football.