“If you have control of the midfield, you have control of the game, and you have more chances to win.”
The above quote by the former Spanish midfielder holds to every extent in world football and rightly so. If you can dominate the midfield battle in a game, your odds to win the match increases a thousandfold. The midfield is the engine room of the team and the midfielders, are technicians. They connect the attack of the team to the defense and help to progress the ball up the pitch to create chances to score. Midfielders are the most hard-working of all, bursting forward trying to create and score for their team while also dropping deep whenever required to provide enough defensive cover to the backline. As a midfielder, you have to have great ball distributing ability, and an eye for a sumptuous pass with good positioning and technicality while also the ability to trick your opponents and regain possession back for your team. The team is a vehicle and the midfielders drivers running the whole game.
You can pick any legendary football team from any era and you will find a world-class midfield on that side, be it Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, or Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Here we will look at the five best midfielders currently and the five best midfielders of all time in this beautiful game showing their magic on the pitch.
List of top 10 best midfielders in the world
|S.N||Best Midfielder In the World|
|1||Kevin de Bruyne|
Best Midfielder in the World 2022
Kevin de Bruyne
There is no other midfielder currently in world football as good as Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian international has just guided Manchester City to their sixth Premier League this season (2022), their fourth in the last five seasons while winning the Premier League Player of the Season award for the second time. He becomes only the third-ever player to achieve this feat. KDB’s 15 goals and 7 assists this season in the Premier League do not do justice to what he puts on the field day in and day out. He is much more than just goals and assists, creating numerous chances every match for his teammates.
The 30-year-old is extremely elegant on the ball, hard to dispossess, and has the vision of an eagle. His ability to pick out a teammate with an inch-perfect pass is immaculate while his crossing is by far the best, only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold gives him competition in this regard. While he can create goals even in a blindfold, the Belgian is a great goalscorer too, his first-half hat trick against Wolves this season (2022) speaks for it. Arguably, the best midfielder in the world, de Bruyne has won several accolades with Manchester City so far but the UCL title has eluded him again this year. With Erling Haaland joining the club’s ranks next season, we can only wait and see if the duo can guide City to a maiden UCL title.
Best Midfielder in the World: Joshua Kimmich
One of the most versatile players in world football right now, Joshua Kimmich started his career on the right wing for the German national team in Euro 2016. Since then the German has gone on to play for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich at right-back and excelled at it before being shifted into a double pivot by Nico Kovac later on. Playing in the double pivot with Leon Goretzka, the 27-year-old went on to win the treble with Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 season under Hansi Flick, establishing himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world. Kimmich does not score goals or stellar things on the pitch but as a number 6 he does his job brilliantly which not a lot of players can do. Excellent at ball recovering and distribution, he is the fulcrum on which the Bayern Munich midfield operates. Every time he has an off game, Bayern is found vulnerable.-- Advertisement --
Joshua Kimmich does not get much limelight for the highly attacking football Bayern plays but it is he who starts off the majority of the attacks by carrying the ball up the pitch while not being shy as well to do the dirty work for his team. The German has been an integral part of Bayern again as the Bavarians lifted their 10th consecutive Bundesliga title this season. Kimmich is a born leader on the pitch, keeps a calm head, is consistent, and plays very maturely. Just entering his prime, the German can improve even more as a player and might definitely take over the armband for both Bayern and Germany when Manuel Neuer steps down.
Best Midfielder in the World: Luka Modric
The next one to feature in our list of best midfielders is none other than Real Madrid’s beloved Luka Modric. Modric is elegance, he is class personified, like fine wine who just keeps getting better with age. The midfielder is currently 36 years old and still going strong as before when certain players already start thinking of hanging their boots. Even in the period of a transition, it is the Croatian who is detrimental to Real’s success this season of winning their 35th La Liga title while also qualifying for the UCL final alongside Benzema. His ability to read a game is extraordinary and he can control the game in a brilliant manner.
Alongside his game reading, his passing range, accuracy, and vision are things that can be kept in a museum. The outside foot pass which he played to find Rodrygo in the box during Real Madrid’s match against Chelsea in the second leg of the UCL quarter-finals this season is perhaps one of the best we have ever seen. Modric even chips in with long-range worldies from time to time. He is a complete midfielder who can take away a match from any team at any point. The Croatian midfielder won the World Cup Golden Ball in 2018 while he took his team to the World Cup finals eventually losing to France 4-1. Modric won the Ballon D’Or in 2018, the only player in the Messi-Ronaldo era other than them, which speaks volumes about his footballing ability. Lukita has already won 4 UCL titles with Real Madrid and we are eager to see if he can win his 5th title with Real on the coming Saturday against Liverpool.
Best Midfielder in the World: Declan Rice
It is the third season on the trot that Declan Rice has been sensational for West Ham and has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world for sure. Rice has gathered applauds and praises from all over the world and found himself in most of the football pundits’ Premier League Team of the Season. The West Ham captain has been a major driving force behind his club reaching the Europa League semi-finals this season while securing European football again for the next season. He is just 23 years old and already a starter in the Three Lions team as well and had a great Euro campaign last time. In one word Rice is “complete”. Playing as a double pivot with Tomas Soucek, he is a natural ball winner leading the league charts for most interceptions among the midfielders. Just when you deem him as a destroyer, the English international emerges as an elite ball carrier and progressive passer, one of the best in Europe. His passing accuracy is one of the best in the league and he offers a wide range of passing as well.
Rice has now worked on his goal-scoring too, scoring quite a few crucial goals for the Hammers this season. At just 23, he is already the captain of the West London outfit and a natural leader on the pitch. Rice is very well rounded, both offensively and defensively as well as bringing in maturity at such a young age. Still far from his prime, he can improve and become even better than what he is now. With his contract up in 2024, Rice might have a lot of potential suitors this summer but West Ham values him at 150 million euros at the moment. We have to wait and see whether Rice continues for another season at the London Stadium.
Best Midfielder in the World: N’Golo Kante
Always with a smiling face, he comes, does his job silently, and leaves. N’Golo Kante is not a central defensive midfielder, he is not a regular goal scorer. He is an unconventional box-to-box midfielder who you just cannot keep out of your team. The 31-year-old player has been exceptional since his first season in the Premier League with Leicester City when he won the league title. Since then he has joined Chelsea and won two more titles, Europa League, UCL last season, and the Club World Cup. Kante has enjoyed success at the international level too, winning the 2018 World Cup with France. He has been consistent throughout this span of time since 2015 and has been extremely important for all of his team’s success.
On his day, the Frenchman can run riots in midfield tearing up defenses and midfielders apart to produce something sensational. He was perhaps the most important player behind Chelsea’s UCL win last season winning the man of the match award against Real Madrid in the semis. Kante’s work rate is amazing as if he functions on three lungs and such is his ball-carrying ability. He can efficiently and effortlessly carry balls from one end of the pitch to the other and is very hard to take the ball off. Whereas, he himself is very adept at taking the ball off of others. Kante is in that right place at the right time and just knows exactly where the ball is going to be played for his good game-reading ability, his positioning sense is top-notch. However, this season the midfielder has not been at the top of his game due to several injury concerns, Chelsea will hope for him to come back strongly next season.
But apart from them, football has produced some timeless greats in midfield as well. Here are the top 5 best midfielders of all time.
Best Midfielder of all time-Zinedine Zidane
What Zidane did on the pitch, nobody can ever replicate again. Perhaps the best-attacking midfielder of all time, Zidane was magical to watch for the fans and neutral while a nightmare for the opposition who could not help but admire his technique. After scoring a brace against Brazil and winning the World Cup with France for the first time in history as well as guiding Juventus to the Scudetto, he announced himself to the world in 1998. He was acclaimed as the best player in the world as well that year winning the Ballon d’Or. Zidane was smooth on the ball, dribbling past players with ease, pulling out tricks of his hat on the pitch, and had a knack for scoring important players (that volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the UCL). The Frenchman was an integral part of the Real Madrid Galacticos of the early 2000s.
From winning a World Cup with France to headbutting Materazzi and seeing a red card in a World Cup final, Zidane has done it all. An elite playmaker, and a monumental goal scorer, he is an all-time legend and probably the best midfielder of all time.
Best Midfielder of all time: Andres Iniesta
An extremely peaceful and quiet guy was nicknamed “Don” by teammates and fans alike, sounds strange right? Well, Andres Iniesta let the ball on his feet do the talking and the opposition trembled in fear. Coming up through La Masia, Iniesta got his place in the first team of FC Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard in 2005 and the rest is history. He went on to score 57 goals and gave 138 assists for FC Barcelona in the 673 matches he played for the club. However, the goals tally does not actually show what exactly the Spaniard was capable of. Iniesta was an integral part of the midfield of Pep Guardiola’s FCB consisting of Xavi, himself, and Busquets which went on to win the sextuple in 2009 and the Champions League again in 2011. Again it was his goal in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands which sealed the victory for Spain’s first-ever WC. He was equally brilliant in the 2012 Euro Cup final during the 4-0 thrashing of Italy.
A man for the big occasions, Iniesta is the only player to win man of the Match awards in the World Cup final, Euro final, and UCL final. It is shameful that he never won the Ballon D’Or during his time in Europe. There have been very few players in world football who were as good passers as Andres Iniesta. His ability to read a game and see things that others couldn’t was intense. Iniesta left his boyhood club in 2018 and now plays football for Vissel Kobe in Japan. Arguably he is the best playmaker of all time and one of the best midfielders ever to play the game who has won all the trophies that he could have.
Best Midfielder of all time: Xavi Hernandez
Probably the best midfield controller the game has ever seen, Xavi Hernandez was also a vital part of that famous era-defining FC Barcelona side. Graduating through La Masia, Xavi made his debut for the first team in 1999 but really came to life under Pep Guardiola in the 2008-09 season. He scored 85 goals and 185 assists for Barcelona throughout his career before leaving the club in 2015 after they completed a historic second treble. Xavi was the best passer of the ball I have ever seen. He could find his teammates with the ball even if he had to pass it through a needle. His passing accuracy was immaculate while he helped dictate the game extremely well, with a proper tempo controller.
The Spaniard won two Euros and the 2010 World Cup with the national team enjoying immense success there as well. Xavi is said to be the best midfielder of all time, arguably because while some were good at dictating the game, some were playmakers, some defensively solid, and some scored goals, Xavi did everything perfectly at the same time. He was a complete package, an all-around figure along with leadership skills that any manager would love to have in the squad. The Spaniard will forever be a legend in this game and is currently the manager of FC Barcelona.
Best Midfielder of all time: Steven Gerrard
There cannot be a better day to write about Steven Gerrard. It was exactly 17 years ago when on 25th May, Gerrard inspired a Liverpool comeback against AC Milan in the UCL final at Istanbul to win the title after going down 3-0 at halftime. This is enough to tell how gargantuan this man was for Liverpool with the strongest of mindsets and never give up attitude. People deny to claim him as the best English midfielder of all time because of his absence of league titles with Liverpool, but those who have seen him play know how talented Steven Gerrard actually was. When Gerrard shot the ball, the ball was destined to end up in the back of the net, something which West Ham fans might agree to after the FA Cup final in 2006.
The English international has scored incredible long-range goals and was one of the finest passers of the ball while having an impressive defensive work rate as well. Gerrard’s leadership skills were outstanding and are no doubt the greatest Liverpool midfielder of all time. He could have easily gone to play for any of the best clubs on the planet at that point but he chose to stay with an average Liverpool side throughout his career and fight for titles. Though the prestigious Premier League title has eluded him, his love and loyalty for his boyhood club alongside his talent have already cemented his place as one of the best midfielders of all time. Scoring 185 goals and providing 151 assists for Liverpool FC, Gerrard is currently managing Aston Villa in the Premier League. Described as a complete midfielder by Zidane, Stevie G will always be remembered as the man for the big moments who had the capability of driving an entire team to triumph on his own. He will always remain one of a kind.
Best Midfielder of all time: Lothar Matthaus
One of the greatest players that Germany has ever produced, Lothar Matthaus was a sensational midfielder who won the Ballon D’Or in 1990 after winning the World Cup with the national team. Playing for Bayern Munich, he is one of the most celebrated and respected players in Bavarianland. Strong and hard to dispossess on the ball, Matthaus could carry the ball yards forward easily dribbling past opponents before putting in a thunderbolt into the net past the keeper. He was equally comfortable in doing the dirty work, putting in robust challenges to win back possession for his team. The midfielder was almost always present at the right place at the right time. He also captained both his club and national team showing his leadership ability. An all-time legend, Lothar Matthaus is one of the best midfielders to ever grace the football pitch.
Undoubtedly, he is one of the best midfielder in the world of all time.