Ranking the Top 10 Defensive Midfielders in the World Right Now
Often considered cynical, aggressive, rash and undervalued, the defensive midfielder holds the key to the fortunes and success of a team. Defensive midfielders act as a shield to the defence and goalkeeper, harrying defenders and committing fouls. They provide a link between the defence and midfield and most attacks tend to stem from their feet.
They often do the dirty work of the team and tend to go unnoticed amids all the glory and flair of the team. Every successful team has a solid and reliable defensive midfielder, going around hustling and harrying opponents. Real Madrid and Chelsea used to have Makelele and Arsenal had Vieira.
The DM is not the most attractive roles on the pitch. He breaks up the flow of the game with tackles, which, although not pleasing to the eye, are invaluable for the team. The DM has to put in a hard-working performance, which sadly goes unnoticed.
How much flair and skill a team possess, it always remains incomplete without the hardwork, effort and tireless running of a defensive midfielder.
Here is a list of the top ten Defensive Midfielders in the world right now.
10: Lassana Diarra
Lassana Diarra is an extremely versatile midfielder, but his true strengths are in the Defensive Midfielder position. Possessing good physical strength, Diarra’s main asset is at closing down players, continuously hustling and harrying them and forcing them to give up possession.
Diarra currently plays for Real Madrid, but he has plenty of experience after playing in England with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth.
With the likes of Ronaldo, Ozil in the team, Diarra may get overshadowed by his more attack minded teammates but that does not take away any of his contributions to the team.
Diarra has great ball control which helps him venture out forward with good success, creating chances for his teammates.
9: Van Bommel
Van Bommel may be heavily criticised for his rough and physical side of play, but there is no denying the fact that it is extremely effective. Van Bommel was an integral part of Bayern’s great season last year and was equally influential in Netherland’s run to the World Cup final.
Van Bommel has plenty of experience up his sleeve and does manage to score the odd goal or two. He scored two goals in Bayern’s fabulous season last year.
Van Bommel is an extremely good enforcer in the centre of the pitch and does commit fouls when necessary. People may call it ‘anti-football’ but Van Bommel does is that he breaks up attacks and gives the defense the time it needs to reorganise and regroup.
Van Bommel provides strength in the midfield area and is a leader on the pitch as well. He is currently the captain of the Dutch national team as well as Bayern.
8: Estaben Cambiasso
Ranked as one of the greatest players ever to pull on a Inter Milan shirt, Cambiasso has been pivotal in Inter’s exploits over the years. Another Real Madrid reject, Cambiasso has been extremely consistent over the past six years.
Cambiasso was a key part of Inter’s squad last year that dominated Europe. Cambiasso is a dynamic and hardworking defensive midfielder blessed with great positional sense. Possessing plenty of tactical acumen, Cambiasso is a great tackler of the ball.
Over the years, Cambiasso has incorporated a more attacking style of play, and does manage to get onto the score-sheet around 6-8 times a season, which is good ratio for any Defensive Midfielder. But he has not neglected his defensive duties during his runs forward and is still the determined defensive midfielder.
Cambiasso is the heartbeat of the Inter side, and has the capacity to change the game with one touch of his boot.
7: Sami Khedira
Sami Khedira may only be 23 years of age, but the German is making a name for himself after putting in a stellar performance at the World Cup as well as impressing at the club level with Stuttgart and Real Madrid.
He is an extremely hard working player on the pitch and does a great job of protecting the backline. He is also fairly assured going forward and can be difficult to handle.
Drafted in as a replacement for Ballack at the World Cup, Khedira was solid and brilliant in Germany’s dazzling run into the semis. Jose Mourinho looked to make Madrid more solid defensively and the signing of Khedira has gone a long way in ensuring that.
He is a real workhouse of a midfielder and possesses wonderful vision as well. Tactically and technically gifted and sound, Khedira is one of the World’s brightest prospects and has the potential to become a truly great Defensive Midfielder.
6: Javier Mascherano
Mascherano is one of the world’s most effective and consistent defensive midfielders. He now plays for Spanish giants Barcelona after moving from Liverpool in the summer. During his stay in England, he played for Liverpool and West Ham.
At Liverpool, he established himself as one of the world’s top midfielders not only when it comes to defending but also while attacking. He is a natural playmaker and has a great passing range. Despite his small stature, he can get himself stuck in there and can dictate the game with his style.
Comfortable at the back and front, Mascherano is the captain of the Argentinean national side and his leadership on the pitch increases his value and contribution to the side.
5: Yaya Toure
Signed by Manchester City from Barcelona in the summer, Toure is already making a name for himself in England. He has been one of City’s better performers this season and is showing why is recognised as one of the world’s top defensive midfielders.
Extremely strong on the ball as well as when tackling, Toure is very much the strong and imposing defensive midfielder. He uses his height to good effect and has a great technique to go along with his physical presence.
Despite his large physical presence, Toure has sublime technique and skill to go along with it. He has nimble feet when necessary and can drive past defenders and is equally successful going forward. As demonstrated in his stay at City, Toure has the knack of scoring important goals and can create chances.
His defensive and attacking exploits makes him a real asset to have in your side.
4: Alex Song
Ever since the departure of Patrick Vieira, Arsenal have lacked a solid and dependable defensive midfielder. But the emergence of Alex Song means that Arsenal now have a player capable of filling the void left by the Frenchman.
Couple of seasons ago, Song was not a regular feature in Arsenal’s starting line-up but now he has become a main stay in the Gunner’s starting line-up. Boasting good physical strength, Song has taken giant leaps in his development and is becoming key to Arsenal’s success. Acting as a shield to the defence, Song has all the qualities of a top notch defensive midfielder.
Making key interceptions, closing down attackers Song’s has been one of the most improved players in world football over the past couple of years. Strong, Song is extremely versatile and can fill in as a centre back if necessary.
This season he has adopted a more aggressive and offensive style of play and although it has exposed his defenders at times, it has reaped rich dividends. He has already found the net an impressive 4 times and continues to create chances for his teammates.
3: Sergio Busquets
With all of Barcelona’s attacking prowess and flair, it is easy to ignore Busquets’s contribution to the side. But like it or not, he has been one of the world’s most effective and consistent defensive midfielders.
Busquets burst onto the scene when Guardiola became the manager of Barcelona but ever since that there has been no looking back for the Spanish star. He has been the pivotal in Barcelona’s title winning squad of the past two seasons and has been equally influential in Spain’s successful World Cup campaign.
He may have his fair share of critics, but this lad from Spain is highly talented and is as vital to the success and fortunes of Barcelona as Xavi and Iniesta.
Busquets tends to sit back and often acts as a third centre back while the likes of Pique venture out forward. His tremendous work rate and strength helps him impose himself on the pitch.
But his biggest asset is his anticipation. Busquets is one of the best when it comes to anticipating and reading the game.
2: Xabi Alonso
Widely recognised as one of the best passers of the football, Xabi Alonso has the quality to change the game with one touch of his boot. Possessing a stunning right foot, Alonso is a match winner.
He was highly influential in Spain’s world cup campaigns and is an extremely consistent performer at the club level. He was Liverpool’s best players when there and now he is displaying his skill in Spain with Real Madrid.
Ever since his departure, Liverpool have been unable to perform well and many attribute his departure as one of the reasons.
Alonso is an extremely strong tackler and is calm, composed on the ball. His distribution is top class and can pick out a teammate when one thought it was impossible. He possess a stunning right foot with which he has scored many a wonder goals including some long range beauties with Liverpool.
1: Michael Essien
Strong and quick, Michael Essien is without a doubt a doubt the world’s finest Defensive Midfielder. Essien remains one of Chelsea’s best players and the squad looks incomplete at times without him.
He is the backbone of the current Chelsea squad and his leadership and strength makes him indispensable. Chelsea do possess an extremely talented and experienced squad, yet without the quality, tenacity, tireless running of Essien, Chelsea do tend to struggle. When he is on the pitch he dictates the game and allows Chelsea to dominate.
He has all the attributes of a top defensive midfielder- strong, tough and powerful. He is a strong and tough tackler and is extremely effective and efficient. His boundless energy makes him a real force to be reckoned with at the centre of the pitch.
He is good going forward as well and as powerful shot to go with. He is an extremely good performer on the world stage as well.