Last Updated on October 8, 2021
Football cannot be so much fun without Midfielders who create goals for the Strikers. Midfielders dictate the tempo of the game a lot hence their importance to any football team. For this reason, it is important to consider the best central, defensive, or attacking midfielders of all time. Or you may call it the world’s best midfielders of all time.
Granted, there are so many yardsticks of choosing “the best”. In most cases, “the best” is relative. So to avoid such thoughts on our best midfielder of all time rank, we will use trophies won as a yardstick of choosing “the best”.
Numbers don’t lie, they say. We believe the numbers of trophies won will eliminate the subjective notion that clouds choosing “the best”.
Furthermore, to be clear, attackers or inverted wingers don’t count in our list of best midfielders of all time—holding, centre, or attacking midfielders count in this case.
Let’s get straight to it and rank the best midfielders of all time in football.
27. Steven Gerrard |England| 11 Trophies
Before he retired, there was hardly any Midfielder who was better at scoring from a long distance.
The Liverpool Legend inspired his team to Champions League glory in 2005. Overall, he won a total of 11 team trophies before he hung his boot.
No one would argue that Gerrard truly deserves to be amongst the best midfielders ever.
Related Article: The Best Liverpool Players of All Time
26. Kaka | Brazil | 11 Trophies
The first player to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi to the Ballon D’or is Kaka. The Brazilian superstar was really successful as a player, especially at AC Milan, where he won the Champions League.
In addition, Kaka won the World Cup with Brazil, and he was an important part of the team for many years.
Without thinking twice, sure you will agree that kaka is one of the best attacking midfielders Football has ever witnessed.
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25. John Obi Mikel| Nigeria | 12 Titles
There are not too many African players who are more successful than John Mikel Obi.
In his 11 incredible years at Chelsea, Mikel won the Champions League, Europa League, and 10 other Trophies.
24. Marco Tardelli |Italy| 12 Trophies
Tardelli was a trendy figure in Italy in the ’80s. He was a tenacious and energetic midfielder who played most of his career at Juventus and Inter Milan.
Before he retired, Tardelli amassed a total of 12 trophies.
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23. Juan Roman Riquelme | Argentina | 12 Trophies
Riquelme literally carried Villareal on his back during his stint at the Club.
Though he failed to win a single Trophy in Europe, he won most of his Trophies at Argentine Club – Boca Juniors.
To a large extent, Riquelme is one of the best Midfielders of all time.
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22. Frank Lampard |England| 13 Trophies
At Chelsea, Lampard is a renowned Legend. Though he’s been retired since 2017, Lampard remains the highest goal scorer for Chelsea.
During his playing time, Lampard was one of the most prolific midfielders in the world.
Lampard’s goal-scoring ability helped him and his teams to win 13 major Trophies. There is little wonder that most Chelsea fans consider him as the world’s best midfielders ever.
It is also worthy of note that Lampard the Best Midfielder in Premier League history,
Related Article: The Best Chelsea Players of All time
21. Zidane |France| 13 Tittles
In the history of football, only very few midfielders are better than Zidane. He was hugely successful at Real Madrid and Juventus.
The Frenchman played primarily behind the striker and dictated the tempo of the attack. Zidane did this so well that he won 13 Trophies during his incredible playing career.
Without a doubt, Zidane is one of the world’s best midfielders of all time.
20. Michel Platini |France| 13 Trophies
Platini is one of the greatest French Footballers ever and one of the best midfielders of all time.
Platini played as an attacking midfielder or a playmaker most times, and he terrorized defences with ease. He won a total of 13 Trophies during his illustrious playing career before retiring.
19. Graeme Souness |Scotland| 15 Trophies
Being a Liverpool Legend, Souness won most of the team trophies at the Merseyside Club.
Souness is regarded as one of the best central midfielders of all time because he won 15 team trophies during his successful playing career.
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18. Edgar Davids |Netherlands| 15 Titles
There were very few combative Defensive Midfielders who were better than Davids during his playing career.
Davids enjoyed great success at Ajax and AC Milan especially. Davids won a total of 15 team trophies, and that is why he is one of the best defensive midfielders of all time.
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17. Claude Makelele | France |15 Titles
Makelele did not score so many goals during his career, but no one can say that he is not one of the best defensive midfielders of all time.
The Frenchman had just two tasks during football matches – break up the opposition’s attack and protect his Center Backs. He did this to perfection, and that is why he was really successful.
Makelele won 15 trophies during his glitter career as a player.
16. Michael Laudrup |Denmark| 16 Titles
Laudrup is one of few incredible midfielders who represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The former Dane superstar is known for his trickery and blistering pace. This quality helped him beat defenders easily and led to his success as a player.
During his time, Laudrup won 16 Trophies, and that is why he is considered one of the world’s best midfielders of all time.
15. Cesc Fabregas* |Spain|18 Trophies
Some Arsenal fans call him “FabrePASS” he was so good with the ball at his feet. Fabregas quickly became a superstar at Arsenal but eventually became even more successful at Barcelona and Chelsea.
Fabregas is a World Cup winner and, in all, has won 18 trophies during their career so far.
Without any doubt, Fabregas is one of the best central midfielders of all time.
14. Xabi Alonso |Spain| 18 Trophies
One of Alonso’s best qualities is his long range of accurate passes. This quality of his improved dramatically at Liverpool and earned him a Champions League medal.
In his illustrious career, Alonso also won the World Cup with Spain, and he is arguably one of the world’s best defensive midfielders of all time.
13. Yaya Toure| Ivory Coast |18 Trophies
King Yaya Toure is one of the most decorated African Footballers ever.
The Ivorian made a name for himself, especially at Barcelona, Manchester City, and the Ivorian National team. It is noteworthy to mention that Toure won the AFCON with Ivory Coast.
Toure is the first-ever Ivorian to win the Champions League.
In all, Toure won 18 trophies in his great career.
12. Roy Keane |Ireland| 19 Trophies
Having played his entire professional career at Manchester United, Keane was indeed very successful. In fact, he is arguably the most successful Irish Footballer.
Keane won a total of 19 Trophies during his playing time, and that makes him not just a Manchester United Legend but also one of the best central midfielders of all time.
11. Clarence Seedorf |Netherlands| 20 Trophies
Seedorf made a name for himself, especially at Ajax and AC Milan. He won a total of 20 Trophies during his career.
The Dutchman is known for his attacking prowess and eye for goal.
Today, Seedorf is considered one of the best midfielders of all time.
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10. Rivaldo |Brazil| 20 Tittles
In the ’90s and early 2000, the Brazil National team was never complete without the great midfield Legend Rivaldo. Such was his importance to the Selaco squad.
Rivaldo won the World Cup and 19 other Trophies during his great career that he amassed with the National team and other clubs he represented.
You sure would agree that Rivaldo is one of the world’s best midfielders of all time.
9. Andrea Pirlo |Italy| 20 Tittles
Mention one Italian Freekick specialist better than Andrea Pirlo – perhaps very few.
Pirlo achieved a lot of success during his playing days at AC Milan, Juventus, and the Italian National Team.
Overall, Pirlo won 20 titles, including the World Cup and Champions League, during his amazing career.
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8. Lothar Matthaus | Germany| 21 Trophies
The younger generation of football fans may not know so much about the great Lothar Matthus. He was an incredible player for the German National Team and Bayern Munich.
Matthaus’s success as a player cannot be overstated. He won a total of 21 Trophies, which is why he is considered one of the best midfielders of all time.
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7. Patrick Viera |France| 22 Trophies
You can’t mention Arsenal Legends without talking about the great Patrick Viera.
Throughout his career, he aimed to break up opposition attacks, and this earned the status as arguably one of the best defensive midfielders of all time.
Viera won a total of 22 Trophies in his glittering career.
6. Frank Rijkaard |Netherlands|23 Trophies
Rijkaard is undoubtedly one of the best defensive midfielders of all time. He was not just a tough-tackler; he was also a great winner.
During his career, Rijkaard won a total of 23 team trophies.
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5. Javier Mascherano | Argentina | 24 Trophies
Naturally, Mascherano played as a Defensive Midfielder but often time he played as a Center Back.
The Argentine Defensive midfielder did not win a Trophy at Liverpool until he moved to Barcelona.
Mascherano was so important to that Barca team that he made a total of 264 Appearances.
In his glittering career, he won 24 team trophies. Mascherano will go down as one of the best defensive midfielders of time.
4. Paul Scholes |England| 27 Titles
During his time, no one played long balls better than Paul Scoles. In addition, Scholes was known to be a tough-tackling midfielder.
Nonetheless, he was really successful a player. Scholes won a total of 27 trophies with Manchester United.
However, Scholes’ success as a player counted for less when he became a Coach.
Scholes is one of the Top Footballers who did not have a great Coaching Career. This, however, would not change Scholes’s status as one of the best central midfielders of all time.
3. Xavi Hernandez |Spain| 33 Titles
It is no surprise to find Xavi among the best midfielders of all time, considering his top-notch performances over the years as a player.
In his time, Xavi was one of the best creative midfielders in the world. Xavi’s trophy haul of 33 makes him the 3rd Best central midfielder of all time in this rank.
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2. Sergio Busquets *|Spain| 33 Titles
Yet again, we have another Barcelona player on the list of best midfielders of all time.
Busquets graduated from La Masia and made his first-team debut as a teenager on Pep Guardiola. He later developed into an excellent pass master who dictates the tempo of the game from the middle.
The holding midfielder has made over 600 appearances for Barcelona already and has 33 Titles to his name.
Sergio Busquets has an excellent chance to surpass Andres Iniesta as the best midfielder of all time because he is yet to retire.
1. Andres Iniesta | Spain| 39 Trophies
Iniesta graduated from Barcelona La Masia to join the first team at Barcelona. After a very successful career with Barcelona, he played about 600 matches for the Club.
In all, Iniesta won 39 trophies in his glittering career, including World Cup and Champions League trophies.
To emphasize how good and exceptional Iniesta was, he is one of the Best International Players of all time.
In this piece, we have a proper mix of African, European, and South American Midfielders whom we can call the world’s best midfielders of all time.
Considering the statistic of Trophy won, it is safe to say that Andres Iniesta is the best midfielder of all time. However, his former teammate Busquets can surpass him before retirement.
In the meantime, what other criteria would you use to judge the best midfielders of all time? Share your thoughts.