10 of the Best Midfielders in Soccer

The best midfielders in soccer go the distance, literally. No other position in the game covers more of the field in a soccer match than the midfielder. Whether they're breaking up an attack ahead for the defense or setting up a goal on offense, midfielders are the heart of a team. These 10 midfielders are considered by fans and experts alike to be among the best in soccer.

01
of 10

Arturo Vidal

Arturo Vidal
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Chilean Arturo Vidal has earned his reputation for being an excellent all-round midfielder. He can defend, pass the ball with assurance, and also break into the area to score important goals. A successful spell at Juventus, where he won four Serie A titles, earned him a move to Bayern Munich in 2015. Vidal hasn't stopped since. He played on Chile's 2014 World Cup team and led the national team to the 2015 Copa America title. In July 2017, Inter Milan made a $57 million bid to lure Vidal away from Bayern.

Teams: Chile, F.C. Bayern Munich

Team number: 8 (Chile), 23 (Bayern Munich)

Birthdate: May 22, 1987

02
of 10

David Silva

David Silva
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The tough confines of the Premier League do not appear ideally suited to the Spanish midfielder’s subtle skills. But after a slow start following his move from Valencia to ​Manchester City in 2010, the playmaker has emerged as one of the best players in the league. In his time with United, Silva has been key to their Premier League and Football Cup titles. The way he slices through Premier League defenses with those deft through balls and incisive dribbles, it's little wonder he's earned the nickname "Merlin."

Teams: Spain, Manchester City F.C.

Team number: 21 (both teams)

Birthdate: Jan. 8, 1986

03
of 10

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure
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Watching the Manchester City star slip through the gears as he carries the ball through midfield is reminiscent of a Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira in his pomp. Yaya felt undervalued at Barcelona but has emerged as one of the key players in City’s ambitious project. In FIFA play, Toure played with the Ivory Coast's national team in the 2014, 2010, and 2006 World Cups, and he has been named African Footballer of the Year multiple times. He is tigerish in the tackle and scores his fair share of goals in more of an attacking role than he used to have.

Teams: Ivory Coast, Manchester City F.C.

Team number: 19 (Ivory Coast), 42 (Manchester City)

Birthdate: May 13, 1983

04
of 10

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger
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Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger had 15 stellar years in international soccer before retiring in 2016 and moving to the U.S., where he plays midfield for the Chicago Fire. Schweinsteiger capped his FIFA career by sharing in the 2014 World Cup title with his fellow Germans. He also played on Germany's previous two World Cup teams, as well as four European Championships. 

Teams: Germany, Chicago Fire

Team number: 7 (Germany), 31 (Chicago)

Birthdate: Aug. 1, 1984

05
of 10

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba
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Paul Pogba prefers to play in center midfield, where he can both defend and attack at will. He's a star player for Manchester United, which paid a record $89 million transfer fee to bring him back from Juventus, where he'd headed after leaving Manchester in 2012. While at Juventus, he led the team to four Serie A championships. Playing for the French World Cup team in 2014, Pogba scored against Nigeria and was named Best Young Player.

Teams: France, Manchester United F.C.

Team number: 6 (both teams)

Birthdate: March 15, 1993

06
of 10

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta
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Scorer of Spain’s game-winning goal against Holland in the 2010 World Cup final, midfielder Andres Iniesta is one of the country’s most loved players and is spared the usual hostile reception that Barcelona players receive when they visit Real Madrid. He's an excellent dribbler, who is superb at linking midfield and attack, and his play was stellar as Spain retained the European Championships in 2012. 

Teams: Spain, F.C. Barcelona

Team number: 6 (Spain), 8 (Barcelona)

Birthdate: May 11, 1984

07
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Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard
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One of the best wingers in the world, Eden Hazard has soccer in his blood; his father was a Belgian soccer star in his own right. Hazard is a defender's nightmare and can dribble at pace in a similar fashion to Lionel Messi. His aggressive style of play helped Chelsea with Premier League and League Cup titles in 2014–15, and he has earned multiple player-of-the-year awards.

Teams: Belgium, Chelsea F.C.

Team number: 10 (both teams)

Birthdate: Jan. 7, 1991

08
of 10

Luka Modric

Luka Modric and Neymar
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Although Luke Modric's career has been plagued by injuries in recent years, that hasn't tarnished his reputation as one of soccer's greats. His performance in the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup is just one of the reasons that Real Madrid extended his contract through 2020. Resembling Xavi in style, Modric may not score as many goals as he should, but he compensates for that with tempo-setting performances that make him a precious commodity in world soccer. 

Teams: Croatia, Real Madrid

Team number: 10 (Croatia), 19 (Real Madrid)

Birthdate: Sept. 9, 1985

09
of 10

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas
Harold Cunningham / Getty Images

Cesc Fabregas is the heartbeat of the Chelsea midfield, known for his passing ability and stellar technique. A child star in his native Spain, Fabregas came to the U.K. as a teen on Arsenal's Academy squad in 2003 and found himself on the main team for the 2004–05 season. He quickly distinguished himself but left in 2011 to play in Spain. He returned to Britain in 2014 to Arsenal's rivals Chelsea, leading the team to Premier League and League Cup titles in his first year.

Teams: Spain, Chelsea F.C.

Team number: 10 (Spain), 4 (Chelsea)

Birthdate: May 4, 1987

10
of 10

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben
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Arjen Robben has that deadly combination of pace and skill that frightens defenses. He also has an end product, with an impressive goalscoring record over the years. Injuries sidelined him for two seasons (2015–17), but he signed a contract extension for the 2017–18 season with his Bayern Munich team, giving fans more time to see one of the best midfielders in the game.

Teams: Holland, Bayern Munich

Position: Forward (Holland), Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

Team number: 10 (both teams)

Birthdate: Jan. 23, 1984