Midfielders have always been the key to a successful side. Football has now developed to a stage where the midfield battle is key to winning a game.

The defensive minded players are generally the hardest working and therefore the most underrated players in the world of football. They are given the task of running through everywhere on the pitch performing both their defensive and offensive duties when required.

A defensive midfielder does everything, all play starts and goes through them, and they distribute the ball from one side of the pitch to the other looking for possible openings in the opposition defence.

This season, defensive-midfielders have underlined their increasing importance on the pitch; here are five players who could fill the vital void left in many clubs midfields.

1) Luiz Gustavo

When Mark van Bommel left Bayern Munich in 2011, young Brazilian Luiz Gustavo signed from Hoffenheim and picked up where he left off, making the job of protecting the Bavarian back four his own and helping them to reach a Champions League final in 2012.

With Java Martinez now at the Allianz Arena, Gustavo has lost his starting position however, and could be tempted away from Munich, provided Bayern can also be convinced to sell and this news of a possible departure could attract many potential suitors in Europe.

2) Etienne Capoue

Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue was heavily linked with Arsenal last summer, and has made no secret of wanting to leave the French club. Capoue has spoken of his dream move to PSG, hopefully becoming a reality in the summer.

However, after the emergence of Blaise Matuidi in the heart of the PSG midfield this season, Capoue may feel he could be surplus to requirements at PSG, so may consider a move elsewhere. In January, Arsenal, Tottenham and QPR all enquired about adding him to their squads, but Toulouse blocked their advances and he stayed in the South of France. Expect them to come back with further bids in the summer in order to lure him across the channel.

However, Capoue revealed he spoke with PSG last winter, so if the side from the French capital decide they want him; it's hard to see any of the Premier League clubs competing with Toulouse's mega rich rivals.

3) Jeremy Toulalan

One of Malaga's unsung heroes in their heroic Champions League campaign, Jeremy Toulalan is a true natural in his position, with excellent timing of the tackle and a panoramic view of the game that results in him almost always being in the right place at the right time. The former Lyon midfielder and French international looks likely to leave La Rosaleda this summer, as Malaga look to cash in on many of their top players in order to relieve the financial burden on them and he would be a very good fit for Arsenal.

4) Victor Wanyama

Wanyama has been the star of Celtic's run to the Champions League knockout stage this season, but insists he is happy at Parkhead - however a bid in the region of £10m could be too much for the Glaswegians to resist.

Plenty of major clubs are said to be after the Kenyan, with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton all credited with an interest. It's very easy to see why, as not only does he win the ball back with his pure strength and pace, but he also uses space well, and is tidy in possession, a good passer and has superb vision.

5) Maxime Gonalons

Another Ligue 1 star linked with Europe’s best is Lyon defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons. The France international has made 33 appearances for his club in their Ligue 1 campaign this season, but with Lyon happy to sell their best players due to financial trouble he could be available for the right amount.

However, Monaco have been sniffing around Gonalons for some time and look certain to spend big in the summer, but Gonalons will in the end choose his club with a various amount of potential suitors.

6) Kevin Strootman

The Dutchman has been dubbed 'the new Roy Keane' having established himself as a key player for both club and country. Strootman has been made captain of the Dutch giants and has kept AC Milan’s Nigel de Jong out of the national team.

Rumours have it Manchester United are ready to make their move after their scouts watched the 22-year-old 12 times in recent weeks. Arsenal are also credited with an interest in the Dutch sensation and being only 22 year he is not even close to reaching his prime.

The only problem with Strootman is he is more suited to being a box to box midfielder rather than a holding midfielder, but he is very versatile and has the skills to play as a creative centre attacking midfielder and also the strength, dominance and defensive skills to play in the centre of defence.

He is the ultimate option to fill a holding midfielder spot in any team due to his potential, age and already proven skills. However, the question is will PSV be willing to sell their star asset?


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