Best defending/holding midfielder ever in football

Connecting defense and midfield, holding midfielders always need a clear view and serenity…

10. Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan)

Formed a congenial duo with Andrea Pirlo.

Achievements: World cup victory 2006, two-time Champions League winner, two-time Seria A champion
Strengths: ball-winnig, agressive playing style
Weaknesses: technique

  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 60%


9. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

Often underestimated because he isn`t as elegant and technically skilled as most other midfielders in this ranking. But at the latest with the world cup final 2014 he is up there with the legends. I have never seen a more impressive display of fighting spirit than his against the hard as bone Argentines that attacked him over and over again. And as a defensive midfielder he was mainly responsible for Bayern Munichs recent success…the year they won the triple, he was outstanding in combination with Javi Martinez, they controled the game with tactical superiority and Schweinsteiger certainly deserves all praises – his resumee has gotten quite big over the years.

Achievements: World cup victory 2014 as captain of German squad, Champions League victory 2013, countless national titles in German Bundesliga
Strengths: Heart and brain of his team
Weaknesses: More of an organizer, needs brillant teammates around him to shine


  • Tackling score: 85%
  • Technique score: 85%


Additional reading: Best central midfielder ever in football


8. Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes, Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio, Manchester United)

Usually not the greatest scorer, but always very important for his teams, since he was the one, controlling the pace of the game, with his technical and strategic skills.

Achievements: Numerous titles in Seria A and Premier League
Strengths: Tactically very astute, a deep-lying playmaker
Weaknesses: Scoring


  • Tackling score: 80%
  • Technique score: 90%



7. Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao, Bayern Munich)

Bundesliga record transfer with 40 million € when he signed up for Bayern Munich.

Achievements: Champions League victory 2013, pretty much every possible German title since he`s playing for La Bestia Negra
Strengths: Ball-winning monster, also great centre back
Weaknesses: Technique


  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 75%


Additional reading: Best attacking midfielder ever in football


6. Steven Gerrard (FC Liverpool)

Achievements: Champions League victory 2005, various british cup titles
Strengths: fighting spirit, natural leader, long-distance shots, solo-runs
Weaknesses: Dribbling, elegance


  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 80%



5. Roy Keane (Manchester United)

Achievements: Champions League victory 1999, seven-time Premier League champion
Strengths: Strong leader and ball-winner, very agressive playing style
Weaknesses: Technique


  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 80%



4. Javier Mascherano (River Plate, Liverpool, Barcelona)

Achievements: Olympic gold medal 2004+2008, two-time Champions League winner, world cup 2014 runner-up, numerous league and cup trophies in Spain.
Strengths: Ball-winning, tactical understanding, reads and organizes the game
Weaknesses: Not exceptionally gifted with the ball


  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 85%


Additional reading: Best wingers ever in football


3. Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich)

A deep-lying playmaker with good technical abilities and creative skills.

Achievements: World cup champion 2010, European champion 2008+2012, Champions League winner 2005 and 2014, many national titles in England, Spain and Germany
Strengths: Clear view, chip passes, through-balls
Weaknesses: Speed


  • Tackling score: 80%
  • Technique score: 90%



2. Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona)

Achievements: Wordl cup victory 2010, European champion 2012, three-time Champions League winner, countless national titles with Barca
Strengths: hard-working, tactical astute and focussed on controlling the defense, but nonetheless good technique
Weaknesses: Hm, hard to find some, got everything he needs for his position


  • Tackling score: 95%
  • Technique score: 85%


Best defending midfielder ever in football [CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 oder GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Fernando Redondo (Tenerife, Real Madrid, Milan)

The most beautiful player to watch, couldn`t get enough of him. A deep-lying playmaker that controlled the game and pace of Real Madrid for years. Doing so, he combined strategic, technical and fighting skills with a beautiful elegance, that was never seen before. What a player!

Achievements: Copa America 1993, Champions League winner 1998, 2000, 2003
Strengths: Reading of the game, playmaker skills, elegance, creativity, vision
Weaknesses: Injury-prone


  • Tackling score: 80%
  • Technique score: 100%



Do you agree? What is your favourite defending midfielder in football? Should any other holding midfielder be on the list?





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