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

Best Midfielders of All Time [In-depth List of 27]

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.

Read Also: The Highest Goal Scoring Midfielders of All Time

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.

Read Also: The Most Overrated Strikers in Football

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.

Read Also: 20 Best MLS Transfers From European Teams

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.

Read Also: Pele Vs Maradona: Who Was Better?

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.

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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.

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

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.

Consider Reading: The Best Football Pairings in History

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.

Read Also: The European Super League in Detail

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Read Also: The Champions League Song History & Lyrics

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 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

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.

Read Also: Messi vs Ronaldo: A Classic H2H Battle

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.

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4. 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. 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.

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

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 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.

Best Midfielders FAQs Answered

Who is the greatest midfielder of all time?

Andres Iniesta is the greatest Midfielder of all time by 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.


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.

Further Reading:

World Football

General Football Quiz

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

1 / 20

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

UEFA Euro 96

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

2 / 20

3 / 20

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

Manchester United Wear Red

4 / 20

Which former Tottenham manager has competed in the Dakar Rally?

Tottenham logo

5 / 20

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

Serie A

Named after Rafael Moreno…

6 / 20

In Spanish football, what is ‘the Pichichi’?

La Liga Logo

An Italian Team

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7 / 20

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

FIFA 20 Video game

Their stage name was ‘Glenn and Chris’

8 / 20

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

footballer who made singles chart

9 / 20

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


10 / 20

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

Jose Mourinho at Manchester United

11 / 20

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

Tottenham logo

12 / 20

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

Footballer who joined wwe

13 / 20

Which club is sometimes referred to as FC Hollywood?


14 / 20

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

La Liga Logo

15 / 20

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

16 / 20

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

Elton John used to own a football club

17 / 20

Which MLS franchise team does David Beckham own?

David Beckham

18 / 20

Which club is associated with ‘Galacticos’?

Football Club logos

A Former Manchester United Manager.

19 / 20

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

Hair dryer treatments for Footballers

20 / 20

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

Designated Player

Your score is

The average score is 45%


2 thoughts on “Best Midfielders of All Time [In-depth List of 27]”

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