The position of a defensive midfielder is among the most important ones in modern football. They provide protection to the team’s defense and also help creating moves from inside their own half.
The Premier League is home to some of the biggest clubs in the world and some of the world’s best players play in it. Here are the five best defensive midfielders who ply their trade in the Premier League:
#5. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Højbjerg is finding it difficult to make it to Tottenham Hotspur’s starting eleven, but he is a fine player without a doubt. He has a combined total of more than 280 matches under his belt for Spurs and Southampton. Since 2020, he has played an active role in Tottenham’s consistent performance as a team.
Højbjerg can venture forward at times into the opposition penalty box at times, but he is primarily a defensive player with good distribution skills. He also provides the team with some undeniable leadership on the pitch.
#4. Thomas Partey
Another player who has warmed the bench for the majority of the season so far, Partey is one of the best players in his position nevertheless. Mikel Arteta’s decision to accommodate Kai Havertz into the playing eleven meant that Arsenal had to switch to a 4-3-3 from a 4-2-3-1.
This also meant that Partey played at right back for the first couple of matches. He remained on the bench for the next two, as Declan Rice played as the lone defensive midfielder. However, Partey may soon find himself in the playing eleven, as he is too good a player to ignore.
He has played in more than 100 matches for the Gunners after having a successful stint at Atletico Madrid. The Ghanaian has exceptional passing skills for a defensive player and is a clean tackler as well.
#3. Declan Rice
Rice’s signing from West Ham United was one of the biggest ones of the season. He underlined his importance by scoring a crucial goal for Arsenal against Manchester United. He has also been able to provide the necessary assurance that his team needed.
He played in 245 matches for West Ham and was one of their most important players during his stint with the club.
Rice is not very fast, but can make up with his astute reading of the game and his distribution. If Arsenal is to challenge Manchester City for the title, Rice will have to be in his element.
Casemiro’s signing was regarded as one of the best ones in the previous season. Manchester United could have benefited even more from him had he not missed a few matches for seeing a couple of red cards. The 31-year-old Brazilian has won it all with Real Madrid and remains a very good tackler and marker.
He has also regularly taken up additional offensive responsibility by venturing into the opposition penalty box often. His ability to play long through balls from inside his own half has suited United’s counter-attacking style a lot. He has also scored a few crucial goals with headers.
There is probably no defensive midfielder better than Rodri in the world at the moment. He has grown exponentially in stature since his move to Manchester City from Atletico Madrid in 2019. He won the treble with Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team last season, scoring the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan. He is the only defensive midfielder with a realistic chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.
Rodri’s ability to finish from the edge of the box aside, he is a wonderful passer of the ball and plays as a deep-lying playmaker in City’s 3-2-2-3 formation. He is also quite good in the air and is one of the best passers among the players in his position. He has scored 19 goals in 212 appearances for Manchester City, and has won every possible title with the club.