Top 10 Midfielders of All-time

Top 10 Midfielders of All-time

Over the years, hundreds of midfielders have represented both club and country and among them are few who have etched their names in the golden book of football. The best midfielders have been running the game for their respective teams without making a fuss about their service. Making a list comprising these best midfielders of all time is one of the most difficult jobs in sports as there are so many who demand their names to be included.

There’s a general saying: “Football is a game of the goalscorers.” When many cling to this idea, Real Madrid and German midfield maestro Toni Kroos think otherwise. According to the five-time UEFA Champions League winner, “Dominating the midfield in modern days is the most important thing.” Now, you can understand why midfielders pride themselves on being the engine of a football team.

From La Liga to the English Premier League, from Bundesliga to Serie A, every major football competition has witnessed a plethora of legendary footballers who were fun to watch when they had the ball at their feet.

Here at Sportsdunia, we have compiled a list of the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time, taking their contributions to the success of their respective teams into account. The names who have made it to the list are mostly Central and attacking midfielders who used to boss things all over the park.

List of top 10 midfielders of all-time

10. Michel Platini

Michel Platini
Michel Platini (Getty Images)

Many would know Platini as a controversial figure, courtesy of his controversial actions as the former FIFA president, but his achievements as a player, especially as a midfielder, make him one of the most important footballers of the game. One of the finest passers of the game, Platini was a dead-ball expert in the history of football.

The French attacking midfielder wasn’t only a clinical passer, but also a specialist goalscorer, who amassed over 300 goals in his decorated career at Juventus, Nancy, and Sanit-Etienne while winning a host of major trophies. His decorated career as a midfielder has made him our number 6 on the list of best midfielders of all time.

9. Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes (Getty Images)

A classy operator, Paul Scholes was a part of the golden generation of English football. Arguably, he is regarded as the best midfielder of the Premier League era who has spent his entire career with Manchester United making over 700 club appearances and winning a staggering 11 league titles. His iconic goals and assists in key moments for United will always be echoed in the minds of football fans. His excellent vision and witty and precise passing made him a legend in the Golden Generation of English midfielders that also includes Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

8. Sir Stanley Matthews

Sir Stanley Matthews
Sir Stanley Matthews (Getty Images)

Matthews. Sir Matthews. This is what football fans used to call him. Sir Stanley Matthews is probably the greatest wide midfielder in English football’s history. A remarkable and folkloric figure, Matthews played for Blackpool and Stoke City from 1930-1950s, raking up countless honors including the likes of Ballon d’Or, Premier League, and FA Cup trophies. His consistency on the field made him a star in the UK, and that’s why he is the only player in history to have been knighted before hanging up his boots.

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7. Luka Modric

Luka Modric
Luka Modric (Getty Images)

The Real Madrid midfielder is at number 7 on this list. He is the last midfielder to have won a Ballon d’Or title (2018), an award which is generally dominated nowadays by elite forwards such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Modric, one of the greatest ever to have played, is a crown jewel in the Los Blancos squad. The most impressive quality of the attacking midfielder is his capability of picking defense-splitting forward passes and performing defensive duties at the same time.

He played a pivotal role in firing Croatia to their first-ever FIFA World Cup final where they succumbed to a heavy loss against France. Real Madrid’s three consecutive victory tally in the Champions League conveys the importance and evolving nature of the Croatian attacking midfielder, who is still going strong in the Spanish capital and will surely go down as one of the most crucial players in the history of the club.

6. Lothar Matthäus

Lothar Matthäus
Lothar Matthäus (Getty Images)

The German midfielder was a commanding presence in the centre of midfield and was easily one of Die Mannschaft’s best-ever players. Matthäus was awarded the 1990 Ballon d’Or after leading Germany to a famous World Cup win against Italy in the same year. His exceptional performances and astute presence has solidified his status as one of the greatest midfielders to play the game.

He holds the record for the most number of World Cup matches played by a single player, 25. Matthäus won seven Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich but never managed to win the European Cup. He came very close to it when Bayern were beaten by Manchester United in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final.

5. Andrea Pirlo

 Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo (Getty Images)

The Italian legend redefined the true meaning of a deep-lying midfielder with a wide range of passing ability and extraordinary skills. Pirlo has won every possible major soccer title, including the FIFA World Cup, Champions League, Series A titles, and plenty of other trophies during his successful footballing career. The current Juventus manager, Pirlo, is often called ‘Mister Cool’ because of his calmness on the field, a trait which used to help him pick up the right passes in pressured situations and dictate a game accordingly. His consistency and fitness allowed him to feature in 872 games in his career. The Italian’s visionary skills and expertise with the dead ball made him a midfield legend.

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4. Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta (Getty Images)

The master of Tiki-taka, Andres Iniesta is a legendary figure in world football. Alongside Xavi Hernandez, Iniesta used to toy with opposition midfielders with his short passes and clinical vision. His greatness in the midfield was backed by a bunch of major titles including UCL, La Liga and Copa del Rey. In his 22 years of stay in Spain, the Spanish legend won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and four Champions League titles. Simply put, Iniesta is the epitome of a complete number 6 in football.

3. Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez

Andres Iniesta’s most reliable partner in the middle, Xavi Hernandez’s spot on the list might raise some eyebrows, but his contribution to revolutionizing Barcelona’s midfield during the club’s golden era speaks for itself. Among many things, his strength mainly focused on finding space and making forward passes for the attackers. He was the heartbeat of the Barcelona midfield, who used to dictate the games and execute his duties with perfection. A great playmaker and supreme passer, Xavi was one of the main catalysts in leading Spain to the 2010 World Cup glory.

2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane (Getty Images)

Despite being a midfielder, Zinedine Zidane was impressive in dribbling, a quality generally found in wingers and forwards. Apart from this, he was a great passer of the ball and a clinical finisher. He had an impressive club football record with Real Madrid, Juventus and Bordeaux. A versatile midfielder and a Ballon d’Or winner, who used to float with grace in the middle, demonstrating his dazzling skills, marvelous first touch, and visionary passing range, Zidane accumulated plenty of goals and assists wherever he went in his career. The 1998 FIFA World Cup winner was a true legend of the game.

1. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff (Getty Images)

One of the greatest pioneers of modern football, Johan Cruyff is popularly known to have changed the face of Barcelona, Ajax, and the Netherlands, in terms of their evergreen footballing journey. The Dutch maestro is arguably the best footballer who could elegantly use either foot to score goals and provide assists. His achievements in both club and international football are the reasons behind his place at the top of the list of best midfielders of all time.

Cruyff propelled Ajax to three straight European Cup victories while clinching several domestic titles with the Dutch outfit. He made 713 appearances in club football and raked up 400 goals as both an attacking midfielder and forward. The Barcelona legend recorded 33 goals to his name is just 48 games for Netherlands.

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