Best central midfielders of all time, the world's best midfielders of all time, or the best defensive midfielders of all time

30 Best Midfielders of All Time [2023 Updated]

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 find out who the best midfielders of all time are.

Granted, there are so many yardsticks for 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 for choosing “the best”.

Numbers don’t lie, they say. We believe the number of trophies won will eliminate the subjective notion that clouds choosing “the best”.

Furthermore, to be clear, attackers or inverted wingers don’t count here. Only holding, centre, or attacking midfielders count in this case.

Read Also: The Highest Goal Scoring Midfielders of All Time

Now let’s highlight the best midfielders of all time by the number of trophies won in summary and later in details.

Best Midfielders of All Time in Summary

SNNameNationalityNumber of Trophies Won
1Andres IniestaSpain39
2Sergio BusquetsSpain33
3Xavi HernandezSpain33
4Toni KroosGermany29
5Paul ScholesEngland27
6Luka ModricCroatia26
7Javier MascheranoArgentina24
8Frank RijkaardNetherlands23
9Patrick VieraFrance22
10Lothar MatthausGermany21
11Andrea PirloItaly20
12RivaldoBrazil20
13Clarence SeedorfNetherlands20
14Roy KeaneIreland19
15Yaya ToureIvory Coast18
16Xabi AlonsoSpain18
17Cesc FabregasSpain18
18Kevin De BruyneBelgium16
19Michael LaudrupDenmark16
20Claude MakeleleFrance15
21Edgar DavidsNetherlands15
22Graeme SounessScotland15
23Michel PlatiniFrance13
24ZidaneFrance13
25Frank LampardEngland13
26Juan Roman RiquelmeArgentina12
27Marco TardelliItaly12
28John Obi MikelNigeria12
29KakaBrazil11
30Steven GerrardEngland11

Read further below to get details on each player.

1. Andres Iniesta | Spain| 39 Trophies

Iniesta graduated from Barcelona La Masia to join the first team in 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. Watch the best of Iniesta below.

2. Sergio Busquets *|Spain| 33 Titles

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.

Related Article: The Best Liverpool Players of All Time

3. Xavi Hernandez |Spain| 33 Titles

It is no surprise to find Xavi on the list, considering his top-notch performances over the years as a player.

In his playing days, 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.

Read Also: Madrid’s Highest Goal Scorers of All Time

4. Toni Kroos | Germany | 29 Titles

German Midfield maestro Toni Kroos is one of the most successful midfielders ever in football history.

Kroos has won a total of 29 titles in his career including 1 World Cup and 5 Champions League medals.

It is also important to mention that Kroos is in the top 20 Real Madrid assist providers of all time.

5. Paul Scholes | England | 27 Titles

During his time, no one played long balls better than Paul Scholes. 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.

Read Also: The Most Overrated Strikers in Football

6. Luka Modric | Croatia | 26 Titles

There is no doubt that Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders of all time in football history.

The former Tottenham man forged a formidable partnership with Kroos and Casemiero to win 5 Champions League titles with Real Madrid.

In all Modric won 26 trophies so far in his career.

7. 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 the 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.

8. Frank Rijkaard | Netherlands | 23 Trophies

Rijkaard is undoubtedly one of the best defensive midfielders during his playing days. He was not just a tough-tackler; he was also a great winner.

During his career, Rijkaard won a total of 23 team trophies.

Read Also: Messi vs Ronaldo: A Classic H2H Battle

9. 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 in his position.

Viera won a total of 22 Trophies in his glittering career.

It is important to also mention that Viera was part of the Arsenal invincible team that won the Premier League without a defeat. See their stats for that season.

10. 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 very best in the middle of the park.

11. Andrea Pirlo | Italy | 20 Titles

Mention one Italian Free-kick 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.

Read Also: Best Free Transfers in Football

12. Rivaldo | Brazil | 20 Titles

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.

Read Also: Best Soccer Games on Google Play Store

13. 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.

Read Also: The Champions League Song History & Lyrics

14. 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 days, and that makes him not just a Manchester United Legend but also one of the best central midfielders in football history.

15. 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 the Ivory Coast.

Toure is the first-ever Ivorian to win the Champions League.

In all, Toure won 18 trophies in his great career.

16. 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 in history.

17. 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.

18. Kevin De Bruyne | Belgium | 16 Titles

For many years now, De Bruyne has been playing top-level football consistently and helped Man City to dominate the Premier League.

So far De Bruyne has won 16 titles in his career including 4 Premier League titles.

No wonder the Belgian is regarded as one of the best Manchester City players.

In addition, KDB is one of the best Premier League midfielders ever.

19. Michael Laudrup | Denmark | 16 Titles

Laudrup is one of the 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 playing days, Laudrup won 16 Trophies.

20. 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 ever.

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.

21. 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.

Read Also: The European Super League in Detail

22. 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 his generation because he won 15 team trophies during his successful playing career.

Consider Reading: The Best Football Pairings in History

23. Michel Platini | France | 13 Trophies

Platini is one of the greatest French Footballers ever.

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.

Consider Reading: Is Pogba World Class or Just a Flop?

24. 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.

25. 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 days, 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 the world’s best midfielder ever.

It is also worthy of note that Lampard is the Best Midfielder in Premier League history, and also the highest goal-scoring midfielder in Premier League history.

Related Article: The Best Chelsea Players of All time

26. 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.

Read Also: Pele Vs Maradona: Who Was Better?

27. 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.

Read Also: 20 Best MLS Transfers From European Teams

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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.

Best Midfielders FAQs Answered

Who is the greatest midfielder of all time?

Andres Iniesta is the greatest Midfielder of all time by the measure of total team trophies won – 39. No other Midfielder in football history has won more.

Who is the most Skillful Midfielder of all time?

Well, the answer to this question is subjective. However, Ronaldinho is largely regarded as the most skillful Midfielder or attacker in football history.

Who is the best Playmaker in Football history?

By measure of trophies won, Andres Iniesta is the best playmaker in football history.

Who is better; Bruno Fernandes or Kevin De Bruyne?

Going by trophies won, Kevin De Bruyne is a better midfielder than Bruno Fernandes.

Conclusion

To remind you, see below the full list of the best midfielders of all time.

Considering the statistic of the 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.

Further Reading:

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World Football

General Football Quiz

This quiz tests your general football knowledge across all Leagues and National teams (Competitions).

Named after Rafael Moreno…

1 / 20

In Spanish football, what is ‘the Pichichi’?

La Liga Logo

2 / 20

After Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter, with nine Scudettos, which team has won the most Serie A titles?

Serie A

3 / 20

The England Euro ’96 song ‘Three Lions’ was a hit by which comedy double act?

UEFA Euro 96

4 / 20

What was the name of the hotel Jose Mourinho lived in when he managed Manchester United?

Jose Mourinho at Manchester United

5 / 20

Which club is sometimes referred to as FC Hollywood?

Hollywood

Their stage name was ‘Glenn and Chris’

6 / 20

Which former England internationals reached number 12 in the UK Singles Chart with the 1987 song ‘Diamond Lights’?

footballer who made singles chart

7 / 20

Which club is associated with ‘Galacticos’?

Football Club logos

An Italian Team

8 / 20

In the video game FIFA 20, team Piemonte Calcio represents which real-life club?

FIFA 20 Video game

9 / 20

Which former Tottenham manager has competed in the Dakar Rally?

Tottenham logo

10 / 20

In English football what is ‘St Totteringham’s Day’?

Tottenham logo

A Former Manchester United Manager.

11 / 20

Which manager was famously said to have given players ‘the Hairdryer Treatment’?

Hair dryer treatments for Footballers

12 / 20

Rangers tried to sign which superstar after Alex McLeish was alerted to his ability through popular video game Football Manager?

13 / 20

English rock star Elton John was twice the owner of which football club?

Elton John used to own a football club

14 / 20

Can you name the former Germany international who went on to become a professional wrestler in the WWE?

Footballer who joined wwe

15 / 20

Which MLS franchise team does David Beckham own?

David Beckham

16 / 20

Manchester United famously wears red, but what colors did they wear before adopting red?

Manchester United Wear Red

17 / 20

In what league is the concept of a ‘Designated Player’ a feature?

Designated Player

Galaxy Cosmos Redshift. Nickname was given in the 20th century.

18 / 20

19 / 20

Which Swedish footballer once had a clause inserted into his Premier League contract that prohibited him from traveling into space?

Space

20 / 20

Which Spanish club’s nickname is Los Colchoneros, which translates to English as ‘The Mattress Makers’?

La Liga Logo

Your score is

The average score is 47%

0%

2 thoughts on “30 Best Midfielders of All Time [2023 Updated]”

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