In modern football, defensive midfielders have different roles to the typical holding players, who provide cover for the defence.
Presently, many of them take on different roles; some are excellent ball passers who keep the ball rotating while others do the playmaking from deep.
This article will list the best defensive midfielders who currently play the deepest positions in midfield for their club.
This means that when you have a two-man midfield, the player who sits deepest is eligible for selection on this list.
Therefore, players like Yaya Toure or Arturo Vidal who are capable in position will not be on it since they have not been playing as deep midfielders in recent years.
The requirements for this position have changed over the years, especially within top clubs or clubs with pro-active managers who like to play an offensive type of football.
Currently, teams prefer to deploy technically brilliant midfielders as opposed to players who can simply deter the opposition.
Below is a list of the honourable mentions that failed to make the team:
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Blaise Matuidi (PSG)
Danielle De Rossi (Roma)
Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen)
Luis Gustavo Dias (Wolfsburg)
5. Michael Carrick | Manchester United
The English player caused outrage when he was signed from Tottenham for £18m eight years ago (a price that looks like an absolute bargain nowadays). But he has been very consistent since then, helping the Red Devils to five Premier League titles and was even voted in the PFA team of the Year last season. Although he has been ignored for most of the past couple of years, he is finally being given the recognition he deserves.
4. Javi Martinez | Bayern Munich
Arguably the best defensive midfielder in last year’s Champions League as he helped Bayern Munich to a historic treble. When the 24-year-old was signed from Athletic Bilbao for a ridiculous fee of €40m, many eyebrows were raised as to why this amount is being spent on a holding player. But after a magnificent season he proved that he was worth every penny and also that he deserved a place in this list especially after a virtuoso display against Barcelona.
3. Xabi Alonso | Real Madrid
Alonso is one of the few defensive players who are able to break defense lines with very accurate balls from deep. In addition, he also has a great physical side to his game, as he can put in very good tackles in dire situations. The fact that he is able to keep someone as good as Javi Martinez out of the Spanish first team line up, speaks volumes about his ability.
2. Andrea Pirlo | Juventus
After leaving AC Milan two seasons ago, the legendary midfielder has rebranded his game and as result became pivotal to Juventus’ success in the past two seasons. His ability to dictate play from deep and create goal-scoring opportunities from open play is absolutely incredible.
He was able to lead the Italian national team to the Euro 2012 final after being a constant thorn in opposition defence despite his deep position. This deep position has actually made it harder for opponents to mark him as only few offensive players can put in a defensive shift.
1. Sergio Busquets | Barcelona
Busquets in his breakthrough season for Barcelona had to play in the Champions League final against Manchester United but fitted in seamlessly as he was barely noticeable during the match. This simply means he went about his job very smoothly, keeping the rotating and not looking below par against the likes of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta.
Since then he has become world-class defensive midfielder who is able to intercept opponents through excellent mind reading and forwards the ball to the strikers in an effortless manner. The fact that his emergence led to the sale of Yaya Toure, simply shows how good he is. In addition, in the national team he has helped Spain to two consecutive major tournaments (World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012) while starting every game during both tournaments.
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