Five best defensive midfielders in the world

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Football News

Defensive midfielders are often the unheralded heroes of a successful campaign. While the strikers get the glory for their superb scoring feats and defenders and goalkeepers take plaudits for match winning clearances and crucial saves, the holding midfielders are somewhat overlooked despite their battling, heroic displays.

Following Leicester City midfielder N'Golo Kante's nomination in the PFA Player of the Year Awards, we're going to take a look at five other defensive midfield stalwarts.

5 - Xabi Alonso (Bayern Munich and Spain)

The Spaniard is probably best known for some world class long range strikes (see his own-half goal from an FA Cup tie with Luton Town or his belter against Newcastle United for proof) but he also displays a calmness needed in his role, with his passing ability an understated part of his game.


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He secured his place in Liverpool history with a goal in the now infamous 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan. He has since gone on to win numerous trophies at both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, retaining that penchant for scoring sensational goals.

4 - Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain and France)

The French international has been a key figure for both the national side and PSG over the past five years.

His best quality is arguably his tough tackling and desire to succeed. However, he also has very good passing and footwork too.

At 29, he is now reaching the peak of his career and he looks set to continue to play a prominent role at both club and international level for several years yet.

3 - Sami Khedira (Juventus and Germany)

Sami Khedira was the defensive lynchpin at Stuttgart for four seasons before earning a big money move to Real Madrid in 2010. He played over 100 games for Los Blancos, as their defensive pivot designed to orchestrate attacks, and deny opposition attackers opportunities.

He made a somewhat surprising move to Juventus last season where he has again shown his world-class quality.

He also more than played his part for the German national side - particularly in the 2012 World Cup triumph, including a goal in the 7-1 semi-final humiliation of hosts Brazil.

2 - Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma and Italy)

Daniele De Rossi has been one of Roma's most revered and respected players for over 15 years, and his loyalty to the club is a measure of the top professional he is.

The 32-year-old has played over 300 league games for the Serie A side and has been a part of some of the best moments in their history, including a Coppa Italia double over Inter Milan in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008.

Roma have continuously impressed over the last decade, finishing runner-up in seven of the last 12 seasons. This success is largely down to the influential veteran midfielder who contributes in both defence and attack.

2009-10 is his most successful season to date as he notched up seven league goals and won the Serie A Player of the Year award.

He was a young up and coming talent in Italy's 2006 World Cup squad but since then he has gone from strength to strength, featuring over 100 times for the 'Gli Azzurri'.

1 - Sergio Busquets (Barcelona and Spain)

Sergio Busquets is arguably the top defensive midfielder in the world today. The 27-year-old Barcelona academy graduate has played a major role in both his club side's immense success in La Liga and Europe, as well as Spain's international dominance between 2008-2012.

He has won three La Liga titles and two Champions League titles with the Catalan giants, with his role focusing on tough tackling, brave blocking and sheer determination to resist opposition attacks.

He rarely scores goals but this is in large down to his focus on defensive duties. He has played over 240 league games for Barcelona and over 80 for Spain.

Have we missed anyone off the list? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Xabi Alonso
La Liga
Bayern Munich
Premier League

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