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Casemiro, Rodri And Partey: Who Is The World’s Best Defensive Midfieder In EPL

Manchester United signing Casemiro has proven to be one of the signings of the season, with the midfielder settling into the Premier League with almost no issues at all.

Yet FourFourTwo have only ranked him as the third-best defensive midfielder in the world.

The Brazilian’s importance to United was highlighted yet again yesterday, as their midfield struggled to control the game against Newcastle United without him.

A 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park means that the Red Devils have lost four games out of nine when he has not started, while they have a win percentage of 73% when he is in the team.

Given how important he has been to United this season and to Real Madrid in recent years, it makes sense that he ranks highly on the best defensive midfielder list.

But the team at FourFourTwo do not think he’s the best in the world, nor the best in the Premier League…

The top 10 defensive midfielders in the world

10 Sergio Busquets

9 Eduardo Camavinga

8 N’golo Kante

Even at 34 years old, Busquets is still controlling games for Barcelona.

His experience and awareness over 22 La Liga matches this season have contributed to the Catalan giants’ title charge. Nobody in the squad has made more tackles than him, and three assists show he can still create as well (via FBref).

But while Busquets is at the end of an impressive career, number nine on the list is just getting started in Spain.

Camavinga is one of the most promising young players in Europe, ranking in the top 4% for pass completion, the top 7% for tackles, and the top 8% for successful take-ons compared to other midfielders across the top five leagues.

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos might be slowing down, but Real Madrid’s midfield is in safe hands, with Camavinga still only 20.

And although injuries have meant that Kante is not the player that he once was, he is still one of the best midfielders in the world when fit.

He recently returned to action against Aston Villa on the weekend, showcasing the dynamism and defensive intelligence that made him so revered in years gone by.

Chelsea will need him at his best as they prepare to play Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

7 Marcelo Brozovic

6 Declan Rice

5 Marco Verratti

An elite defensive midfielder in Serie A and an important influence for Croatia, it is no surprise to see Brozovic on this list.

A pass completion rate of 86.5% puts him in the top seven players at Inter, with the 30-year-old acting as a stable link between defence and attack.

Meanwhile, Rice has been a bright spark in what has been a dismal season for West Ham United, showcasing why he is a target for top clubs like Arsenal.

The Englishman’s reading of the game is exceptional, with only Cheick Doucoure and Idrissa Gana Gueye making more interceptions than him this season in the Premier League.

Imperious in the air, comfortable when carrying and passing the ball – whoever Rice does go on to play for will benefit in a big way.

While Rice is looking for a move to a big club, number five on the list has been at one of Europe’s biggest clubs for over a decade.

Verratti has made more tackles for PSG this season than any other player, while also completing 92% of his passes – highlighting two abilities which make the 30-year-old “crucial” for his club, according to his manager Christophe Galtier.

4 Thomas Partey

3 Casemiro

2 Joshua Kimmich

Just missing out on a podium finish is Arsenal’s Partey, who has been a key part of the club’s success this season.

Playing just behind Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard, the Ghanaian is excellent at intercepting passes and at cutting out counterattacks, which allows Mikel Arteta to feel comfortable throwing numbers forward.

Arsenal fans will hope that he can escape any injuries, knowing a fit Partey gives them an excellent shot at the title.

Just ahead of him is Casemiro – and given the impact he has had on United’s win percentage this season, you might expect him to rank higher.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian’s impact at both Madrid and United cannot be understated, and he has given Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, and his other midfield partners the license to attack while he controls the middle of the pitch.

Bayern midfielder Kimmich just misses out on the top spot, but his quality will prove invaluable for new boss Thomas Tuchel.

The German ranks among the top 1% for passes attempted and progressive passes compared to players across the top five leagues, showing that everything in this Bayern team goes through him.

He is also in the top 2% for shot-creating actions and in the top 5% for interceptions, showing his importance in both defence and attack for the current Bundesliga champions.

1 Rodri

Incredible passing, an important influence on Manchester City’s attack, and an essential part of their defence – is it that surprising Rodri is number one?

Nobody has made more progressive passes in the Premier League this season than the Spaniard, nobody has had more touches, nobody has carried the ball further, and nobody has made more tackles for the Citizens this season.

All of which helps to demonstrate how complete a midfielder he truly is.

Rodri has missed just one Premier League game for City all season and has featured in all but one Champions League game. He is as crucial to Pep Guardiola’s team as you can get.

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