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10 greatest midfielders of all time

Luka Modric, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi
Luka Modric, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi
Shreyas HS
Modified 12 Feb 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Midfielders control the flow of the game. They dictate how the game is played and are often important in transitioning from defense to attack or in stopping the opposition attackers.

While attacking midfielders, forwards, and wingers usually get all the credit and limelight, it is often the central midfielders who do all the leg work and allow these attacking minded players to express themselves.

The entire philosophies of some teams and squads are built on the strength of their midfield and the talent of their midfielders. With so many talented and legendary central midfielders to choose from, it is no easy task to choose the 10 best.

Without much ado, let us take a look at;

The 10 greatest central midfielders of all time

Note: Only central midfielders have been considered. Players who primarily played as attacking midfielders or wingers (like Zidane, Ronaldinho, Maradona etc) have not been included in this list.

#10 Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard

Part of England's golden generation, Frank Lampard was an integral part of Chelsea's emergence as a European superclub. One of the greatest box-to-box midfielders the world has ever seen, Lampard's tendency to arrive late in the box helped him grab many crucial and match-winning goals.


The only midfielder to have scored more than 150 goals in the Premier League, Frank Lampard won an incredible 13 trophies with Chelsea. The former England international was arguably at the peak of his career from 2004-06 and even came second in the Ballon d'Or standings in 2005 losing out to the legendary Ronaldinho.

An accurate penalty and set-piece taker, Frank Lampard will forever be remembered fondly by Chelsea fans for his important contributions and inspirational performances.

#9 Johan Neeskens

Johan Neeskens in action
Johan Neeskens in action

An extraordinary player in his own right, Dutch midfielder Johan Neeskens was often overshadowed by his more famous countryman, Johan Cruyff. The steel to Cruyff's grace, Neeskens was an integral part of Ajax and the Netherlands national team which played some beautiful and stunning football in the 1970s.

The Dutch midfield maestro was known for his tireless running, relentless pressure on the opposition and immense passing skills. He was also extremely talented and skilled on the ball. Neeskens' presence in the Ajax and Dutch national teams helped the more creative players express themselves and play with freedom.

A true team man, Neeskens played an integral role in Ajax's 3 consecutive European Cups. He also had a successful stint at Barcelona before winding down his amazing career in the United States of America.

#8 Luka Modric

Luka Modric with his Ballon d
Luka Modric with his Ballon d'Or award

The 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, Luka Modric, comes in at number 8 on this list. One of the most complete midfielders to ever play the game, Modric has consistently been among the best players in the world for over a decade.

Capable of picking defense splitting passes and equally adept at doing his defensive duties, Modric has continuously evolved and improved his game in the last few years.

A crucial part of the Real Madrid team which won 3 UEFA Champions League trophies in a row, the Croatian midfielder was the first player in over a decade to break the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and win the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 2018.

Still going strong for Real Madrid, the 35-year-old will undoubtedly go down as one of Real Madrid's greatest ever signings.

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Published 12 Feb 2021, 12:33 IST
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