The job of a defensive midfielder has changed dramatically during the last two decades. The Premier League has played a significant influence in this progression since its high-octane, fast-paced football requires a lot from defensive midfielders.
Apart from defending, Premier League defensive midfielders frequently initiate the build-up to attacks, making them one of the most important players for any team that aims to be successful.
Nowadays, having a great defensive midfielder is almost as crucial as having a great goal scorer for any club that wants to be successful.
So, who are the players that revolutionized the position in the Premier League and are regarded as some of the best Premier League defensive midfielders of all time? – Let’s find that out!
Kante rose to prominence as a towering presence in Leicester City’s championship-winning team in 2015-16. Following his exploits at Leicester, the Frenchman was signed by Chelsea, where he won the PFA Footballer of the Year award in his first season.
Kante, a late bloomer who only came into his own in his twenties, is well-known for his hard ethic and discipline.
Kante, who is often the master of turning over possession and driving his side ahead, can also morph into a box-to-box player capable of running forward with the ball to devastating effect.
However, he is most effective when he sits in front of his defense, much like a genuine holding midfielder.
Alonso rose through the ranks at Real Sociedad before joining Liverpool in 2004, where he established himself as one of the top Premier League defensive midfielders as well as one of the greatest midfielders of his time.
At Liverpool, Alonso formed one of Europe’s best midfield duos with Steven Gerrard, and the pair helped Liverpool reach two Champions League finals.
His Champions League title, combined with the FA Cup they won a year later, was enough to propel the two-time Euro and 2010 World Cup winner to the top of the Premier League defensive midfielder rankings.
Much has been written about Manchester City’s remarkable attacking skill in recent years, but Fernandinho is the player that makes Man City’s style of playwork.
The Brazilian defensive midfielder has been one of the pillars of Pep Guardiola’s success with the Cityzens, so much so that when Fernandinho is gone, Man City struggle to maintain their defensive structure.
Fernandinho is without a doubt one of the best Premier League defensive midfielders, having won multiple titles and trophies in which he played a significant role.
Claude Makelele, one of the best holding midfielders in the game’s history, was a Real Madrid star and a Champions League winner with the club before being unexpectedly sent to England.
The Frenchman was unfazed by the shift in climate, and he went on to become a midfield lynchpin for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who won the Premier League twice in a row in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
With his ability to read the game and break up play, mark with accuracy, tackle and head the ball to safety like a tremendous wall in front of his defense, Makelele elevated the holding midfielder role to an art form in the Premier League.