Rodri vs Fabinho vs Kante vs Rice: Who is the Premier League's best defensive midfielder?

  • Kobe Tong
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Rodri, Fabinho, N’Golo Kante and Declan Rice are the four best defensive midfielders in the Premier League right now.

Ok, so there’s room for debate there, but we feel pretty confident in saying that the likes of Douglas Luiz, Wilfred Ndidi and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg fall short of the top-table quartet as things stand.

Rodri is quietly going about his business as one of world football’s most underrated players, while Rice is proving week in, week out that a move to a Champions League club is what he deserves.

Rodri vs Fabinho vs Kante vs Rice

Meanwhile, Kante thrust himself into Ballon d’Or contention with his 2021 performances and Fabinho seldom goes a game without consolidating his status as one of Liverpool‘s top performers.

So, all that considered, even if you’re a little outraged to see Rice rubbing shoulders with Kante, we can surely agree with relative certainty that these four players are the best in their roles right now.

However, here at GIVEMESPORT, we didn’t just want to end things there because the Premier League‘s winter break has allowed us to take a closer and more statistical look at the quartet.

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Statistical comparison

And having already looked into the division’s finest centre-backs and full-backs using Squawka’s comparison matrix, we’re once again using its data to settle another hot debate in English football.

We’ve chosen 35 statistics that show off different qualities in central defensive midfielders and tallied up who out of Kante, Rodri, Fabinho and Rice comes out on top in the greatest number of metrics.

The statistics in question are:

  • Games Played
  • Touches
  • Ball Recoveries
  • Possession Lost
  • Goals
  • Shots On Target
  • Assists
  • Chances Created
  • Passes Attempted
  • Pass Accuracy %
  • Long Passes Attempted
  • Successful Long Passes
  • Long Pass Accuracy %
  • Crosses Attempted
  • Successful Crosses & Corners
  • Crossing Accuracy %
  • Successful Crosses from Open Play
  • Through Balls Attempted
  • Duels Contested
  • Tackles Made
  • Fouls Conceded from Attempted Tackles
  • Take-ons Completed
  • Take-on Success %
  • Fouls Won
  • Fouls Conceded
  • Aerial Duels Contested
  • Aerial Duels Won
  • Aerial Duel Success %
  • Ground Duels Contested
  • Ground Duels Won
  • Ground Duel Success %
  • Clearances
  • Interceptions
  • Blocks
  • Clean sheets
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Who comes out on top?

Data is taken from Premier League games this season and we ran the test through the ‘per 90 minutes’ filter to ensure that players didn’t get an easier ride if they had amassed more minutes.

So, without further ado, be sure to check out who the stats suggest is the Premier League’s best defensive midfielder right now by checking out who was the darling of the data down below:

1. Rodri – 12.5

2. N’Golo Kante – 10.5

3. Declan Rice – 6.5

4. Fabinho – 5.5

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Rodri takes the victory

There you have it, the data suggests that – if nothing else – Rodri has been the Premier League’s most complete defensive midfielder across the 2021/22 season so far.

The Manchester City stalwart came out on top for chances created, passing accuracy, aerial duels won, clean sheets and much more to reiterate his status as one of the world’s best in his position.

However, the fact that Kante was breathing down his neck on the back of victories in metrics like ground duels won, take-ons completed and tackles made really goes to show his unending quality.

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Besides, the Chelsea hero has had a relatively quiet season by his standards, but continues to produce the sort of eye-watering numbers that sees him getting the better of Rice and Fabinho.

Speaking of which, the West Ham United and Liverpool aces shouldn’t feel too dismayed when you consider the level of competition and it’s not as though they were completely whitewashed.

Perhaps it just goes to show that Fabinho isn’t enjoying his finest season at Anfield and that Rice still has a little way to go before he can truly compete for the CDM throne in the Premier League.

“Denis Zakaria to Man Utd is possible!” (Football Terrace)

Well, everyone will have at least ‘a little way to go’ with Rodri proving so unstoppable right now…

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