Kante, De Bruyne, Modric: Who is the best midfielder in the world?

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N’Golo Kante put on a midfield clinic during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

The Frenchman was the best player on the pitch as he helped his side to a positive result in the first leg.

He was absolutely everywhere and looked back to his very best.

To do that against three of the best central midfielders in world football in the form of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos was incredible.

And it got us thinking.

Where does Kante - and the three Real Madrid midfielders - rank in the world’s very best in that position?

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Of course, there are many different central midfielders. You’ve got defensive midfielders, you’ve got box-to-box midfielders, you’ve got attacking midfielders and everything in between.

But using Tiermaker, we’ve decided to rank 60 of the very best central midfielders in world football from ‘Garbage’ to ’Very Best’.

Now, our hands were tied when it came to selecting the actual players in the Tiermaker but we’ve sorted them into six categories.

Let’s take a look:

Garbage

Isco
Dele Alli
Harry Winks

We feel harsh putting Isco in here but he’s playing very much a bit-part role for Real Madrid this season. As for Spurs duo Dele Alli and Harry Winks, they’re not up to the standard of some of the other players in this list.

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Bad

Dani Ceballos
Emre Can
Jesse Lingard
Philippe Coutinho
Moussa Sissoko
Granit Xhaka
Naby Keita
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Fred
Ross Barkley

Now, we must say that on their day, these players can be incredible. There’s a reason they’re in this list alongside the greatest midfielders in world football. But are they good enough to compete at the highest level? No chance.

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Decent

Aaron Ramsey
Youri Tielemans
Jordan Henderson
Georginio Wijnaldum
Jorginho
Rodri
Wilfred Ndidi
Martin Odegaard
Matteo Kovacic
James Maddison
Saul Niguez
Tanguy Ndombele
Achraf Hakimi
Houssem Aouar
Arthur
Franck Kessie
Ruben Neves
Luis Alberto
Piotr Zieliński
Nicolò Zaniolo
Fabian Ruiz
Rodrigo Bentancur
Marcelo Brozović

A lot of European representatives in the ‘Decent’ category. Some of these are capable of playing for the very greatest clubs in Europe and some are already well on their way. But they're just a tier below ‘Very Good’ right now.

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Very Good

Kai Havertz
Frenkie De Jong
Thiago
Paul Pogba
Fabinho
Ilkay Gundogan
Fernandinho
Mason Mount
Leon Goretzka
Marcos Llorente
Sergej Milinković-Savić
Sergio Busquets
Federico Valverde
Bernardo Silva
Nicolas Barella

Some would argue that these players are already ‘World Class’ but for the purpose of this tier, we have to stick them in the ‘Very Good’ category. Kai Havertz, Frankie de Jong, Mason Mount and Federico Valverde all have the potential - and time - to move up to the next tier in the coming years.

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World Class

N’Golo Kante
Casemiro
Toni Kroos
Luka Modric
Joshua Kimmich
Bruno Fernandes
Phil Foden
Marco Verratti

Eight very different players but eight undoubtedly ‘World Class’ players. You could argue that sticking Foden in this tier alongside the likes of Kante, Modric and Kimmich is premature but there’s no denying he’s a special talent.

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The Best

Kevin De Bruyne

Still the best midfielder in world football - De Bruyne. If he can lead Manchester City to Champions League glory this season, the Belgian will be in contention for the Ballon d’Or come December.

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Final rankings

So, there we go. Sixty of the best central midfielders in world football have been ranked from ‘Garbage’ to ’The Best.’ It certainly wasn’t an easy task and it’s obvious there are some incredible talents playing in the middle of the park right now.

Whether they’re a destroyer, breaking up the opponents’ attacks. A deep-lying playmaker, starting attacks for their side. Or a creative attacking midfielder who gets assists and scores goals. Let’s appreciate midfielders of all shapes and sizes.

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