In the previous generations of football, the midfield of teams usually had a defense-minded midfielder whose job was to shield the defense and do the bulk of the running in the middle of the park.
Defensive midfielders were usually seen as the 'bad boy' of the team as they usually completed the majority of the tackles in the side and often did the dirty work for the side. Players like Claude Makelele, Genarro Gattuso, Javier Mascherano and Roy Keane are among others to be the pioneers of this role.
However, with the evolution of the game, the role has now been modernized in recent times with highly technical and calm players filling the position. These midfielders, although also generally referred to as defensive midfielders, are deep-lying playmakers or 'registas'.
Traditional defensive midfielders focus more on putting in tackles and leaving the progression to other midfielders. However, deep-lying playmakers are more concerned at driving their side forward with a very robust range of passing and penetration.
This role is widely attributed to Andrea Pirlo as the Italian was one of the major names who pioneered the utilization of 'registas' in modern football. Other names who mastered the position included Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick amongst others.
Traditional defensive midfielders are still very important and in use in today's football with N'Golo Kante, Wilfred Ndidi and Casemiro some of the biggest names in the role. However, deep-lying playmakers are given more regard as the game of football has become more technically inclined.
The best 'registas' in world football right now
#5 Sergio Busquets | Barcelona
The Spanish midfielder is a veteran of the position as he has 13 seasons and over 600 games worth of experience in the role at Barcelona. Busquets began playing for Barcelona in 2008 as the deepest of the three midfielders in the Blaugrana's famous 4-3-3 formation.
The 33-year-old has partnered with Iniesta, Xavi, Rakitic and most recently Pedri and De Jong in midfield over the course of his career. While all these names have received numerous plaudits over the years, Busquets has constantly been a cover for these players.
He has allowed them the freedom to roam forward while he has both shielded the defense and also kept the side ticking.
Despite his advancing age, Sergio Busquets is still an integral part of the Barcelona setup as he made 50 appearances for the Spanish giants in all competitions last season.
Last season, Busquets led Ronald Koeman's men in interceptions per game (1.5) in La Liga. He also had the second-most tackles, long-balls and passes per game for Barcelona in La Liga.
Busquets is not the flashiest of players but his skill set cannot be overlooked as he has been a major cog both at club and international level. With over 30 trophies won for club and country, Busquets has managed to win every trophy available to him.
#4 Manuel Locatelli | Sassuolo
The 23-year-old is a player in demand with top clubs across Europe vying for his signature, particularly Arsenal and Juventus. The numerous interests in Locatelli stem from his highly impressive performances for Italian outfit Sassuolo over the past two seasons.
Manuel Locatelli began his career at AC Milan where he spent two full seasons before joining Sassuolo on an initial loan deal. After impressing during his loan stint, the Neroverdi opted to sign him on a permanent deal in 2019. The decision proved to be the right one as the Italian has gone on to spend two highly remarkable seasons at the club, generating interest from clubs across Europe.
Locatelli often played in a double-pivot at Sassuolo last season and was one of the standout players at the club, leading the side in accurate long balls and tackles per game with 4.9 and 2.4 respectively. He also completed the second-most interceptions and passes per game for Sassuolo last season.
The midfielder was an important member of the Italy side who won the European Championship in July.