Welcome to World Class: The Top 5 Defensive Midfielders of 2020 - Ranked

Tom Gott
Dec 22, 2020, 5:00 PM GMT
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga | Lars Baron/Getty Images

We've left defenders in the rear-view mirror and we're moving up into midfield, and we're staring with the often-unheralded defensive midfielders.

Every good team needs somebody to anchor the midfield and offer some balance to the team. They might not get goals, assists or any of the headlines, but their job is sometimes more important than any other on the pitch.

There are plenty of elite contenders on our shortlist for the best defensive midfielder out there, but it's time to decide the top five, using our #W2WC metric.

5. Fernandinho

Age continues to try and catch up to Fernandinho, but the Manchester City man just isn't listening.

It's no coincidence that City have looked so shaky when Fernandinho has been out on the sidelines. He reads the game better than any other City player and is comfortable shouldering the defensive weight in Pep Guardiola's attack-minded team.

City spent an enormous amount on Rodri in 2019 to try and prepare themselves for life without Fernandinho, but the Spaniard's inconsistent start to life in England has only amplified the importance of Guardiola's most dependable soldier.

Fernandinho ranks fifth in 90min's Welcome to World Class defensive midfielders list. Read more about why Fernandinho is world class here.

4. N'Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante is both the nicest man in football and the most destructive defensive midfielder around.

His danger-seeking eyes and stamina help Chelsea's World Cup winner fly around the pitch from the first whistle to the last, and his ability to break up play continues to astound.

Kante's natural skill almost merits a place higher up in this list, but he needs to show he can shake off his fitness struggles first.

N'Golo Kante ranks fourth in 90min's Welcome to World Class defensive midfielders list. Read more about why Kante is world class here.

3. Casemiro

Real Madrid have always had a ludicrous number of big names in their squad, but few have ever come close to matching the importance of Casemiro.

Casemiro has spent years studying all the intricate details of his game to perfect his craft, and it has turned him into the glue that holds Real together. The defence fall apart without him and the attackers often lose confidence without his security behind them.

Zinedine Zidane has been looking for a backup to Casemiro for years, but finding someone capable of filling his shoes has proven to be an impossible task.

Casemiro ranks third in 90min's Welcome to World Class defensive midfielders list. Read more about why Casemiro is world class here.

2. Fabinho

Few players are quite as underappreciated as Fabinho, whose arrival at Liverpool in May 2018 gave them the balance they needed to turn their heavy-metal football into winning football.

While those either side of him press opponents with relentless enthusiasm, Fabinho simply observes. He plays chess in his mind and always seeks to be two or three moves ahead of the opponent. If there's a gap about to open up, Fabinho has already moved to plug it before anyone else has even noticed it..

Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and the rest of Liverpool's big names have earned the plaudits for the Reds' recent trophy haul, but none of that would have been possible without Fabinho's calming influence.

Fabinho ranks second in 90min's Welcome to World Class defensive midfielders list. Read more about why Fabinho is world class here.

1. Joshua Kimmich

Not only is Joshua Kimmich the best defensive midfielder on the planet, but there's an argument to suggest he's the most complete footballer around too.

After Bayern Munich decided that his greatness was being wasted in defence, Kimmich was moved up into midfield, where he could bring his relentless energy, elite passing and penchant for a worldie to the big stage.

He does everything at such a high level. Kimmich is one of those players you could deploy anywhere on the pitch and you'd still get results.

Joshua Kimmich ranks first in 90min's Welcome to World Class defensive midfielders list. Read more about why Kimmich is world class here.

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