Arguably one of the most underrated positions in football, the job of a defensive midfielder comes with little to no fanfare.
Defensive midfielders tend to do the dirty work; breaking up play, shielding the backline and acting as a link between the defense and the midfield. These days, they are required to be excellent passers as well.
Claude Makelele's performances for Real Madrid and later Chelsea highlighted the importance of the role, while Barcelona's Sergio Busquets, under the management of Pep Guardiola, further refined the position. These days, every top team tends to invest in a top-quality defensive midfielder.
On that note, here are the top five defensive midfielders in world football currently.
#5 Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City
A key cog in the midfield for Leicester City, Wilfred Ndidi's star has been on the rise for some time now.
Ndidi joined Leicester City from Genk in January of 2017 for a fee of £16 million. Since then he has been a constant presence in the first XI for the Foxes, with his tackling and aerial ability highly appreciated. The Nigeria international has also been utilized as a center-back this season.
The 24-year-old has made 25 appearances in all competitions for the Foxes this season, with injuries having limited his minutes. Leicester City, with Ndidi, look more solid and function better as a team. With clubs like Manchester United linked with the excellent midfielder, it will be interesting to see what the summer holds for the former Genk man.
#4 Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona
Barcelona might be in a transitional phase right now, but the acquisition of Frenkie de Jong will hold them in good stead.
The 23-year-old joined Barcelona from Ajax for £77.5 million in 2019, with the Catalan club managing to sign the midfielder despite heavy interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. After a slow start to his Barcelona career, De Jong has now firmly established himself in the first XI after some top performances this season.
His dribbling ability, passing and vision have all come to the fore. The Netherlands international has made 41 appearances in all competitions so far this season for Barcelona, scoring six goals.