Casemiro, Fabinho, Kante, Rodri: Who is the best defensive midfielder in the world?

Man Utd are reportedly on the verge of signing Real Madrid and Brazil star Casemiro.

According to Sky Sports, the Red Devils will pay Los Blancos an initial £50.7 million with a further £8.5 million coming further down the road.

The signing would be an enormous coup for Erik ten Hag and United, who have been forced to watch numerous targets slip their grasp this summer.

However, in Casemiro, they’re getting one of the world’s finest operators.

Now aged 30 and in the prime of his career, the no-nonsense Brazilian has been instrumental in Madrid lifting a staggering five Champions Leagues since he joined in 2013.

But does that make him the best in his position? Assessing the best of the best can be a tough nut to crack, however we’ve decided to give it a go to find out whether United really are getting the creme de la creme of defensive midfielders.

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The 10 best defensive midfielders in world football

10. Wilfried Ndidi

Let’s just clarify that we are talking exclusively defensive midfielders on this list, so the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Jude Bellingham and Luka Modric have not been considered.

Ndidi, meanwhile, epitomises what it means to be an anchor in front of the defence.

When on form he’s near impossible to get past and frequently tops the charts in the league for interceptions, as well as possessions regained.

Leicester will be lucky to hold onto him for much longer.

Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester
Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester

9. Sergio Busquets

The Spaniard is one of the finest of his generation, but now 34, there can be no arguing that his powers are beginning to wane slightly.

Still, his mind works quicker than any opponent and he perfectly fits the Barcelona mould of always being two steps ahead.

He learnt from the best in Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta after all, so now it’s his turn to pass on those pearls of wisdom to the Barca youth.

Sergio Busquets in action for Barcelona
Sergio Busquets in action for Barcelona

8. Declan Rice

The Englishman’s rise to stardom has been a rapid one, so much so that David Moyes whacked a £150 million price tag on his head prior to the summer transfer window.

While he’s certainly not worth close to that figure, Rice is fast becoming one of England’s best players and has vastly improved his capabilities on the ball throughout the last year – something which we believe has held him back in the past.

Declan Rice

7. Marcelo Brozovic

While many fans won’t have seen as much of Brozovic in comparison to the other stars on this list, the Inter Milan midfielder has been central to everything good that’s happened to the Nerazzurri of late.

Working in an expert coalition with Nicolo Barella, the duo successfully boss Serie A games on the regular and they’ll be looking at reclaiming the Scudetto in 2022/2023.

Marcelo Brozovic

6. N’Golo Kante

Okay, so maybe he’s no longer an out-and-out defensive midfielder, but we’d argue he’s still very defensive minded, even if he is employed more progressively.

Whilst Kante would traditionally always top this list, there can be no denying that his form has deserted him of late.

Mistakes are creeping into his game and, while we still think he’s up there with the best, the Frenchman could do with finding some consistency again or face dropping out the top 10.

N'Golo Kante

5. Fabinho Tavares

Another that’s prone to mistakes of late, Liverpool fans will be hoping that Fabinho can stop the rot and become the monster he once was for the Reds.

Since joining the club from Monaco in 2018, the Brazilian has been the crowing jewel in Klopp’s midfield.

The anchor that both dictates play and breaks it up when necessary. All in all, he’s a world class player that just needs to find some consistency if he wants to surpass someone like Rodri.


4. Rodri

The Spaniard slips under the radar in a City team that’s littered with flashy stars, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less important to the cause.

In fact, he might be their most important asset aside from Kevin De Bruyne.

He does the simple stuff to perfection and very rarely puts a foot wrong – two signs of a top, top player.

Rodri celebrates

3. Joshua Kimmich

The cog that keeps the Bayern Munich machine ticking over at all times, Kimmich is like a modern day Phillip Lahm with some added panache going forward.

Besides from being an extraordinary defensive midfielder, he’s also a world class right-back or creative outlet – in truth, he could probably play anywhere his talent is so refined.

A special player.

Joshua Kimmich

2. Marco Verratti

The little Italian has spent over a decade bossing the French division for Paris Saint-Germain, as well as the Champions League on many an occasion.

We feel taking the next step in his career, whether that be a move to the Premier League or another European giant, needs to happen sooner rather than later given he’s now 29.

He’s a world class player there can be absolutely no doubting that – but one that needs to step out from the shadow of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar so fans can see him in all his glory.

Marco Verratti
  1. Casemiro

So, there you have it, we have opted for the potential Man Utd man at number one.

The success Casemiro’s achieved on pitch is unparalleled across this list, lifting heinous amounts of silverware at Los Blancos.

He also keeps Fabinho out of the Brazil team on the regular, which is no easy feat itself.

And all things considered, you’ve got to imagine that Ten Hag can barely believe his luck at the prospect of the deal going through.

He could be some signing.

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