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The 5 Best Defensive Midfielders in the World 2021

he defensive midfield is a difficult position to define. There are grey areas and players that fit into both this category and another. But as part of the 90minseries "Welcome to World Class" we had to think about it... and have come to this conclusion.

We have classified defensive midfielders as players who either primarily occupy a position that is in front of the defance  be it as anchors, destroyers or playmakers - or who primarily perform defensive tasks in their team.

Top clubs often opt for high pressing, where the sixes need a combination of physical strength, intelligence and anticipation to stop the opposing attacks through the center. And then there's all the work they do with the ball – often they're the starting point of attacks and have the ability to play a pass that breaks through the opposing defensive line.

And then there's the question of how to define world class? We've written enough about it, so you can read all about it here. But you should know that they are the five best players at their position in the world – all players are judged by ten categories that we believe make a player world-class.

Understood? Very good.

So here are the five best defensive midfielders in the world:.

Rodri has become exactly the player Pep Guardiola hoped for when he brought him from Atletico Madrid to Man City in 2019.
The Spaniard has become the undisputed anchor in the Midfield of the Citzen and combines his excellent passing game with a decent physique and robust tackles.
He has even proven that he is more creative in this area than his rivals from the Premier League.
The 25-year-old played an outstanding season in 2021, winning the Premier League title and reaching the final of the Champions League with
City. Who knows: If he had been in the starting line-up there, they might even have won the game.
4. Fab inho
Games played: 35
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Created scoringchances: 11
Passing accuracy: 89.1%
Tackles: 63

Jürgen Klopp has described Fabinho as a "lighthouse" who provides clarity in Liverpool's aggressive system. A more apt description for the Brazilian can hardly be imagined.
Fabinho, who offers the Reds a rock-solid basis for dominance in their game with his game overview and his flawless passing game, has even gone one better in 2021 by stepping in during the club's incredible injury crisis in central defance and cutting a brilliant
His signing in 2018 was a
coup. Since then, he has become one of the best players at his position.
3. Joshua Kimmich

Games played: 45
Goals: 6
Assists: 9
Created scoringchances: 125
Passing accuracy: 88.3%
Tackles: 63

The philosophy of "total football" may have its roots in the neighbouring Netherlands, but no modern football player sums up its principles better than Joshua Kimmich.
The Bayern star impresses everywhere on the pitch, but in the defensive midfield - where he has the full overview of the game - he is strongest.

Kimmich is a frighteningly effective pressing player and a devilishly intelligent
defender. He is able to put the ball on the silver platter of his teammates - and so it is not surprising that he is (clearly) at the top of assists and created scoring chances in the statistics listed.
2. Jorginho

Games played: 44
Goals: 8
Assists: 2
Created scoringchances: 39
Passing accuracy: 90.0%
Tackles: 101

Jorginho has divided the opinions of Chelsea supporters (and also many other fans) since he came to Stamford Bridge in 2018 because of Maurizio Sarri.
In 2021, however, he was able to convince even his biggest critics by being a top performer at the best club and the best national team in
To understand what makes Jorginho such a miracle, one needs
patience. But when you notice his incredible work with and without the ball, you can no longer deny that he is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

1. N'Golo Kanté

Games played: 37
Goals: 2
Assists: 1
Created scoringchances: 28
Passing accuracy: 85.2%
Tackles: 68

It seems ridiculous when you think back to it. But in 2020, there were actually voices claiming that Kante's magical powers could dwindle. Twelve months later, he is deservedly at the top of our list.
Even for Chelsea's fiercest rivals, Kante is a player it's hard not to
like. Off the pitch he is humble and down-to-earth, but when he enters the green grass, he is every midfielder's nightmare.
Much is written about the Frenchman's incredible endurance, but an unstoppable lung alone is not enough to be the best defensive midfielder in the
During his time at Chelsea and internationally, Kante has also become an unobtrusive creative
force. When you combine that with these outstanding defensive qualities, you have a recipe for a truly amazing footballer.


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