50 Best Playmaking Midfielders in the World Ever

John Rogers
John Rogers

published 12:30, 08 August 2022

50 Best Playmaking Midfielders in the World Ever

The debate about who the best playmakers will continue to rumble on for years to come. Indeed, experts, never mind everyday fans, cannot agree on the discussion of what makes a good playmaker.

While the number of assists made has carried increasing importance in the modern game, playmakers of yesteryear were judged differently on their ability to dictate the game from midfield and find those passes that most couldn’t. 

To come to our top 50, we’ve looked at five key attributes and ranked each one out of ten. They are:

  • Passing
  • Dribbling
  • Shooting
  • Vision
  • Defending

Of course, any list like this is completely objective. One person’s love for a raking long crossfield pass is another person’s hopeful long-ball forward.

For this list, I’ve looked at how a player really impacts a game. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, which is why this list has tried to dig a little deeper than the statistics. For example, you can play football without the ball, which is why players like Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira rank in this list. Not only were they outstanding ball winners, they rarely gave it away when they had possession. Not only that, they affected games in their sides’ favour on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, those mercurial talents that you might not see for 88 minutes of a game but that produce a match-winning moment of genius through skill, a killer pass or wonder goal, have also been handsomely rewarded. Football is a beautiful game and this is largely a celebration of those that made it so watchable.

This is our guide to the top 50 playmaking midfielders the game has seen.

50. Pedri

Pedri Barcelona FC

Pedri- is set to become one of the best Playmakers of all time(Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 1 Club Title, 0 International Titles, 125 Games, 13 Goals, 4 years

Expect this young Barcelona maestro to shoot up the rankings over the next decade or so. Pedri has not only impressed at a Barcelona side in transition but has 12 Spanish caps to his name before the age of 20.

His style of play sees him start out wide and drift infield in a free role, reminiscent of Andres Iniesta, and is becoming an out-and-out number 8. His ability to drift away from challenges and play penetrating passes off either foot makes him one of the finest playmakers in the world today.

Passing 7
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 36

 

49. Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes- exceptional vision(Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 3 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 464 Games, 142 Goals, 11 Years

The Portuguese number 10 had an outstanding first 18 months with Manchester United after making the move to Old Trafford from Sporting before finding the 2021-22 season a little more challenging.

However, his ability to find pockets of space between the lines and feed the front players had a huge influence on leading United to 2nd place in the Premier League in 2020-21. His ability to score goals from outside the penalty area makes him a dangerous customer, however, when things don’t go his way, he can sometimes go missing.

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 7
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 36

48. Roy Keane

Roy Keane

Roy Keane- Man U most valued captain (Image: Dreamstime.com)

 

CDM, 20 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 743 Games, 96 Goals, 17 Years

The Irishman was the on-field embodiment of Sir Alex Ferguson’s personality in the all-conquering Manchester United side of the 1990s.

By his own admission, Keane was far from the most talented player of his era. However, his defensive grit and ability to drive United forward through pure willpower are enough to take him into the top 50. A scorer of many crucial goals over the years, Keane was much more than a midfield enforcer. Of course, his notoriously fiery temper got the better of him more often than it ought to have done.

 

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 7
Defending 9
Total 37

47. David Beckham

David Beckham

David Beckham- Deadball specialist like none before (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MR, 19 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 834 Games, 146 Goals, 20 Years

Many thought that the centre of midfield was going to be David Beckham’s best position, but he enjoyed his best years on the right-hand side of Manchester United and England’s midfield.

He lacked the yard of pace to go past his marker as a traditional winger might, however, his ability to swing devastating crosses into the box with only half a yard of space made him a seriously dangerous customer. Factor in his ability from dead balls to score and create, and Beckham’s place among the best right midfielders in the world is secure.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 8
Vision 7
Defending 7
Total 37

46. Ryan Giggs

 

Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs- One of the best left midfielders ever(Image: Dreamstime.com)

AML, 34 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 1031 Games, 181 Goals, 24 Years

While Beckham was beating left-backs with crosses, Giggs was on the opposite flank tying right-backs in knots.

His ability to beat a man at pace made him a thrilling player in his prime before his transition to a central midfielder in the autumn of his career. Giggs’ ability to scamper sixty yards at pace, beating players and scoring or laying on goals for his grateful team mates make him a very different kind of player to Beckham, but equally effective in a great Manchester United team. One of the best left midfielders ever.

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 9
Shooting 8
Vision 7
Defending 6
Total 37

 

45. Paul Gascoigne

MC, 5 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 525 Games, 120 Goals, 20 Years

Fans arguably never got to see the absolute best of Paul Gascoigne thanks to the number of long-term and devastating injuries he picked up throughout his career.

After bursting onto the scene at Italia ’90 with his ability to carry the ball through the heart of midfield and commit players, he became a darling at Lazio with his all-action displays, when fitness allowed.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 37

44. Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos- One of the most decorated players of all time(Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 26 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 739 Games, 81 Goals, 15 Years

A player who has spent most of the past decade and more dictating games from midfield for Germany, Bayern and Real Madrid, Kroos makes the list courtesy of his traditional playmaking abilities.

Whether deployed in the defensive midfield role or as a number 8, Kroos’ range of passing gives him an ability to split any defence from midfield with just one pass off either foot. Coupled with his ability from dead balls to create and score goals, Kroos has been one of the game’s finest midfield playmakers of recent years.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 37

43. Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez- amazing agility and flair(Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMR, 9 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 600 Games, 172 Goals, 13 Years

The Algerian winger burst onto the scene with Leicester City’s surprise Premier League success in 2016 and has reached the very peak of the game with Manchester City.

At his best on the right flank, which gives him the option of cutting inside on his dangerous left foot or using his pace to go on the outside and cut the ball back, Mahrez is the personification of the modern wide forward. Scorer and creator of outstanding goals, some feel that he can sometimes struggle defensively.

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 37

 

42. Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara- Pep Guardiola’s favourite Playmaker besides Messi (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 28 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 507 Games, 50 Goals, 16 Years

You don’t play in midfield at the Camp Nou, Allianz Arena and Anfield without having something about you. When Pep Guardiola moved to Bayern, he made Thiago his number one target from his previous club, Barcelona.

That tells you all you need to know about the Spanish midfielder’s quality. A terrific range of passing that does justice to his vision has made him one of the finest midfielders of his generation. Some argue that he doesn’t carry the ball as well as some and that he should score more goals than he does, given the quality of shot he has at his disposal.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 37

41. Jorginho

Jorginho

Jorginho- A true all-around player (Image: Dreamstime.com)

 

MC, 6 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 524 Games, 50 Goals, 13 Years

The metronomic midfielder took a while to convince Chelsea fans of his ability in midfield after joining the Stamford Bridge club from Napoli.

However, his versatility allows him to be deployed as a ball winner and a ball user in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield, a role he has enjoyed with great success for Italy. At his best in tight spaces, knitting the play together with his precise passing, he’s also able to create chances out of nothing with a wonder pass.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 6
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 8
Total 37

40. Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich- One of the best fullbacks, but also a one-of-a-kind midfielder playmaker (Image: Dreamstime.com)

 

MC, 19 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 427 Games, 42 Goals, 9 Years

Guardiola had a huge impact on the career of Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich by converting him from a marauding right-back into a box-to-box midfielder.

Kimmich’s transition has been so effective that he continues to be used regularly in midfield for club and country. His energy and work-rate combined with his ability to pick a pass, carry the ball through midfield and create makes him the ultimate modern player, world class in more than one position.

Passing 7
Dribbling 8
Shooting 6
Vision 8
Defending 8
Total 37

 

39. Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso- Will always be remembered for his crucial role in t Liverpool CL winning in 2008 (Image: Dreamstime.com)

DMC, 15 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 815 Games, 60 Goals, 17 Years

Alonso was unfortunate to have been part of the same era that gave Spain Xavi, Iniesta and Busquest. A decade either side and Spain’s side would have been built around the former Liverpool, Bayern and Real Madrid man.

Usually deployed at the base of a midfield three, Alonso’s strength was his ability to see a pass and then execute it to perfection. While Xavi and Iniesta were better at carrying the ball in midfield when required and scoring goals, Alonso’s goals, when they came, were usually belters.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 38

 

38. Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids- The Dutch Maestro (Image: Dreamstim.com)

MC, 16 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 664 Games, 56 Goals, 23 Years

The Dutch maestro enjoyed a terrific career with Ajax and Juventus in particular, where his ability to win the ball in midfield couple with his ability to carry it and then pick a pass made him one of the best playmakers of his era.

His all-action style made him a firm favourite with fans and team-mates alike and his range of skills were often displayed on Adidas adverts before major tournaments. Perhaps didn’t score the number of goals his attacking prowess warranted.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 38

 

37. Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard- had a key role while playing for the great Ajax FC and the national team (Image: Dreastime.com)

DMC, 22 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 613 Games, 108 Goals, 15 Years

Another Dutchman, and the grandfather of the successful Ajax side of which Davids was also a part of. Rijkaard began his career as an elegant centre-back before being converted at Milan by Arrigo Sacchi.

Rijkaard developed into a superb defensive midfielder whose ability to pick a pass and dictate the play from his deep lying position made him a key player for club and country. An excellent passer of the ball and tough tackler, Rijkaard was that rare combination of ball winner and playmaker.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 6
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 9
Total 38

36. Lothar Matthäus

 

MC, 19 Club Titles, 2 International Titles, 932 Games, 226 Goals, 21 Years

This German maestro became a key man over the best part of two decades for Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern and Inter, as well as running the midfield for West Germany in their 1990 World Cup success.

Matthäus was a hard-running midfielder who created chances for the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann with his adroit, rather than flashy, range of passing and popped up with plenty of goals of his own. Able to score from inside and outside the box, he was one of the best all-round midfielders of the 1980s and 1990s.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 9
Vision 7
Defending 7
Total 38

 

35. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard- a true leader on the pitch(Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 9 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 863 Games, 211 Goals, 18 Years

The embodiment of Liverpool for 15-years, Gerrard was a true box-to-box midfielder who was able to fulfil many different roles for club and country.

An all-action midfielder with a superb range of long and short passing, not to mention a lethal shot from distance, Gerrard was sometimes accused of overplaying and trying too many Hollywood passes. Often made up for the shortcomings of his teammates and led Liverpool from the front.

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 38

 

34. Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti- Rome has been forged in his image (Image: Dreamstime.com)

FC, 5 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 834 Games, 316 Goals, 25 Years

From one one-club man to another, Totti was a very different kind of player to Gerrard, but one who became the epitome of AS Roma during his 25-year career in the Italian capital.

Creator, goalscorer and a mercurial individual, Totti was one of those magicians who failed to replicate his impact in domestic football on the international stage with Italy. Nine goals in 58 caps do scant justice to his quality. Elusive in the whole behind the main striker, Totti could pick the lock of any defence with a single pass and be equally dangerous with either foot.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 38

33. Michael Laudrup

AMC, 14 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 726 Games, 202 Goals, 17 Years

Laudrup is one of only a handful of players to have represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona with equal levels of appreciation for his talents.

He was the fulcrum of the exciting Danish side that lit up the early stages of the 1986 World Cup, yet a dispute meant that he missed Denmark’s finest triumph, the 1992 European Championship success. Able to play wide on either flank or through the middle, he could beat a man or open up a defence with a single pass as well as scoring plenty himself.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 38

32. Ilkay Gundogan

Ilkay Gundogan

Ilkay Gundogan- Incredible pace for a Playmaker (Image: Dreastime.com)

MC, 14 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 530 Games, 90 Goals, 15 Years

In a midfield packed with creative talents at Manchester City, Gundogan’s habit of popping up with important goals overshadows his contribution as a playmaker.

Less dynamic than Kevin De Bruyne and less likely to take players on than Bernardo Silva, Gundogan is so often the glue that binds City’s unbelievable midfield together with his metronomic passing and ability to keep the ball in tight spaces.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 38

31. Harry Kane

Harry Kane- one of kind dropback striker that gives a playmaker a new definition (Image: Dreamstime.com)

FC, 0 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 524 Games, 316 Goals, 13 Years

Kane is a rarity on this list in that he is definitely not a midfielder. Yet, in the past couple of years he has transitioned from one of the finest numbers 9s in world football into a genuine playmaker and goalscorer.

Often found dropping deep to link the play, his partnership with Heung-min Son for Spurs is one of the most prolific in Europe. His vision and ability to pick a pass makes up for the lack of pace that stop him from beating his marker too often.

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 10
Vision 8
Defending 5
Total 38

 

 

30. Neymar

Neymar

Neymar- will the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be his last? (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AML, 26 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 676 Games, 423 Goals, 14 Years

There’s no arguing with Neymar’s numbers, either at club or international level, and he’s won everything there is to win. However, the nagging feeling remains that he has never quite achieved what he should have done in the game.

Usually deployed on the left of a three-man attack, Neymar has it all. Vision, skill to beat his marker with impudence, goalscoring ability and terrific creative flair. Yet, he’s always been held back by a sense of enigma.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 5
Total 38

29. Angel di Maria

Angel di Maria

Angel di Maria- creative genius (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMR, 27 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 806 Games, 180 Goals, 18 Years

A player who is unfortunate to have been part of the Argentine set-up during the era of Lionel Messi. di Maria is a tricky winger who likes to cut in off the right flank onto his lethal left foot.

A scorer of incredible goals from open play and dead balls, as well as a creative genius, di Maria’s move from Real Madrid to Manchester United threatened to derail his career. However, a move to PSG enabled him to re-find his mojo and become one of the world’s best playmakers of the past twenty years.

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 38

28. Phil Foden

Phil Foden- Pep Guardiola Once referred to him as “future Messi” (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 11 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 189 Games, 48 Goals, 6 Years

It takes quite a lot to break into arguably the most creative club side midfield in Europe, yet England’s youngster Phil Foden has managed it, turning potential into output over the past two years.

Although he was on the periphery of England’s Euro 2020 campaign, Foden’s ability to glide past players, pick passes and score goals mean that he’s not only one to watch, but one who’s already arrived.

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 38

 

27. Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie de Jong- is only 25 years and still has his best years ahead of him (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 3 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 324 Games, 27 Goals, 9 Years

A modern midfielder in every sense of the word, de Jong was the in demand midfielder of the summer 2022 transfer window.

A ball winner, ball carrier and creative force, he’s one of the few players to emerge from the debris of Barcelona’s messy existence over the past few years with his reputation intact. Still only 25, de Jong’s best years should be ahead of him for both club and country.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 7
Vision 7
Defending 8
Total 38

26. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba- When his decides to turn it on, he is one of a kind midfielder (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 10 Club Titles, 2 International Titles, 502 Games, 84 Goals, 11 Years

The French midfielder has as many admirers as he does detractors, yet this has nothing to do with his undoubted ability in the middle of the park.

He can score goals, create goals, commit players and has a shimmy that belongs in a ballroom. Yet, his spell at Manchester United left the Old Trafford faithful more often than not highly frustrated with his peripheral performances that were overshadowed by those for France.

 

Passing 7
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 38

 

25. Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira- Superior athlete, won PL titles with Arsenal and WC winner (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 19 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 758 Games, 64 Goals, 18 Years

A member of the all-conquering France and Arsenal sides of the late 1990s and early noughties, Vieira’s all-action style reframed what a modern midfielder needed to be.

His combination of athleticism, strong physique and rangy stride with a subtle range of passing, outstanding defensive qualities and ability to score goals made him the blueprint for 21st Century midfielders to follow.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 8
Total 39

 

24. Bobby Charlton

AMC, 7 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 913 Games, 309 Goals, 20 Years

Although Charlton regularly wore the number 9 shirt for Manchester United and England, he was not a centre-forward.

Instead, he was an all-action midfielder that combined work rate with a terrific passing range as well as the ability to arrive in the penalty area late to score goals. He had a thunderous strike off both his left and a right foot that often left goalkeepers clutching thin air. One of the best English midfielders ever.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 7
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 39

 

23. Rivaldo

Rivaldo- took a major part in the resurrection of Baraca FC during the early 2000s (Image: Dreastimes.com)

AMC, 20 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 887 Games, 412 Goals, 24 Years

A member of one of the last great international strike-forces alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, Rivaldo was a player blessed with everything a great playmaker needs.

He could beat a man, send wicked curling balls into the box from wide areas, had outstanding vision and could score goals from anywhere within 30-yards of the opposition goal. Although excellent in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph, his play acting in a match against Turkey rather marred his reputation.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 5
Total 39

 

22. Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes- one of England’s best midfielders ever (Image: Dreastime.com)

MC, 25 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 784 Games, 169 Goals, 20 Years

His low profile away from the football pitch often leads to Scholes’ ability as a playmaker, and one of the best England midfielders ever, being overlooked.

However, he was arguably the finest English passer of a football of his generation with an ability to split a defence with a through ball or raking long pass, while he scored countless spectacular goals from distance. The only thing keeping Scholes from being the ideal all-round midfielder was his inability to tackle.

 

 

 

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 7
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 39

21. Kaka

Kaka- will be remembered for his dazzling speed, which made him unstoppable (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 9 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 746 Games, 237 Goals, 13 Years

The Brazilian playmaker’s star burned brightest during his first spell at AC Milan in which he was arguably the best player in the world.

His beauty was in his low centre of gravity and turn of pace that made him able to glide past players effortlessly before setting up colleagues or scoring himself. He was beset by injuries after his move to Real Madrid that hampered his impact in Spain, but in his pomp, was one of the finest to have graced the game.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 39

20. Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo- flawless control of the midfield (Image: Dreamstime.com)

DMC, 16 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 872 Games, 86 Goals, 22 Years

An absolute Rolls Royce of a midfielder, Pirlo anchored some of the finest midfields of the early 21st Century with Milan, Juventus and Italy.

Nominally deployed as a defensive playmaker, Pirlo had the ability to single-handedly dictate the tempo of a game. Good in tight spaces and with a terrific range of passing, he was one of the finest midfielders of his era. Unquestionably one of the best Italian midfielders ever.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 39

 

19. Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic- never loses his composure (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 6 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 735 Games, 210 Goals, 16 Years

Perhaps a slightly surprise entry so high on the list, Tadic’s inclusion spawns from increasing influence over time, particularly in marshalling a young Ajax side to near European glory.

The Serbian playmaker has a wand of a left foot, sees passes that mere mortals don’t and has an uncanny ability to score superb goals. He is proven at the highest level with Ajax, but has never excelled in one of the big-five leagues.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 39

 

 

18. Dennis Bergkamp

FC, 16 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 813 Games, 301 Goals, 20 Years

The Arsenal legend was famed for his fear of flying, yet that didn’t stop him being the key man in their best-ever team.

Bergkamp was the player that made Arsene Wenger’s brilliant Arsenal team tick, laying on goals for Pires, Overmars and Henry, while displaying the silkiest touch in football at the time. Made football look like poetry in motion.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 39

17. Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold- just 2nd to Salah in the assists table of the PL in the 2021/22 season, as a fullback (Image: Dreastime.com)

DR, 7 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 246 Games, 14 Goals, 7 Years

The frightening thing about Alexander-Arnold isn’t that he’s still so young, it’s his playmaking ability from full-back. One shudders to think how effective he’d be in midfield.

After getting well into double-figures for assists in 2021-22, Alexander-Arnold’s range of passing from deep, as well as deadballs and the by-line make him one of the most creative players in the world game today. Question marks remain about his defensive capabilities, however.

 

 

 

 

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 7
Vision 8
Defending 8
Total 39

 

16. Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva- the future of the Portugees national team (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 16 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 513 Games, 92 Goals, 9 Years

As with every midfielder to pass through the Guardiola school of midfielders, Bernardo Silva is a terrific technician with the ball at his feet.

His versatility means that he is equally effective from deep or more advanced positions, as well as out wide. His close control makes him an elusive figure while he enjoys creating goals as much as he does scoring them.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 7
Total 39

 

 

15. Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure- The legacy of the modern Man City FC laid heavily on Yaya (Image: Dreastime.com)

MC, 17 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 717 Games, 122 Goals, 19 Years

Another Manchester City legend makes the list in the shape of the only man to play the Patrick Vieira role better than Patrick Vieira.

The Ivorian was the complete midfielder, able to win the ball, dribble past players at will, pick a pass and score crucial goals. Impressed at Barcelona, excelled at the Etihad.

Yaya Toure- The legacy of the modern Man City FC laid heavily on Yaya (Image: Dreastime.com)

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 8
Defending 8
Total 40

14. Alfredo di Stefano

FC, 26 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 706 Games, 516 Goals, 21 Years

In any era, winning five consecutive European Cups is a unique achievement. To be at the forefront of that side is unique.

The Argentine wizard was three players in one. A dribbler, a creator and a goalscorer extraordinaire. Without question one of the finest players of any era, unfortunately, he was unable to find success at international level.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 8
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 40

 

13. Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez- The passing maestro (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 29 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 1078 Games, 116 Goals, 22 Years

One pivot on the outstanding Barcelona triangle that graduate through their youth academy to conquer the world with Spain.

Xavi’s pass completion record is what ranks him so highly, rarely giving the ball away and passing with outstanding one-touch accuracy. Did much of his best work keeping Barcelona moving, but also had the eye for a killer pass which was usually executed to perfection.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 7
Shooting 7
Vision 9
Defending 8
Total 40

 

 

12. Luis Figo

Luis Figo

Luis Figo- Defenders were hopeless against him (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMR, 22 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 917 Games, 169 Goals, 20 Years

Nominally a winger, yet not an out-and-out winger, Figo was the heartbeat of the Portugal side that began to emerge from the international wilderness in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The move to Real Madrid from Barcelona overshadowed his career and he lacked the yard of pace that would have made him truly brilliant as opposed to outstanding. Scored brilliant goals, often made defenders look foolish and was an underrated passer of the ball.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 40

 

11. Zico

Zico

Zico- his Key Passing made Pele one of the world’s best strikers ever (Image: Dreastime.com)

AMC, 14 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 771 Games, 517 Goals, 23 Years

The heartbeat of the Brazilian side that many feel underperformed at the 1982 World Cup, Zico was famed for his viciously swerving long-range shooting.

However, he was so much more than that. A dribbler with outstanding close control, Zico was also the creative hub of things on the international scene as well as his club career.

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 40

 

10. Michel Platini

10. Michel Platini

AMC, 10 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 652 Games, 353 Goals, 15 Years

Ignore his dubious record in football administration, Platini was one of the finest footballers on the planet during the 1980s.

A superb dribbler, he played at a breakneck pace that saw him score goals as often as he’d create them with his outstanding range of passing and seemingly superhuman vision. Brilliant for Juventus and France in particular.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 8
Defending 6
Total 40

9. Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit- one of the most dominated Libro’s ever played (Image: Dreamstime.com)

AMC, 14 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 641 Games, 236 Goals, 19 Years

A languid attacking midfielder, Gullit had everything in his locker. Athleticism, ease on the eye, an outstanding range of passing and terrific eye for goal.

His ability saw him effortlessly move back to play successfully as a sweeper in the finest creative libero mould towards the end of his career. A mainstay of the Dutch Euro 88 success and great Milan side of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

 

Passing 8
Dribbling 9
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 41

 

8. Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta- amazing flair and vision (Image: Dreastimes.com)

MC, 32 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 985 Games, 101 Goals, 21 Years

The complete midfielder, Iniesta so often flew under the radar due to the quality of his teammates for club and country. Yet he was a purist’s playmaker.

Scorer of brilliant and crucial goals, his telepathic understand with Xavi was crucial to one of the all-time great midfields. His extra ability to take players on is what sets him apart from his Nou Camp team mate.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 41

7. Luka Modric

Luka Modric

Luka Modric- ages like a fine wine with each season that passes (Image: Dreamstime.com)

MC, 27 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 922 Games, 115 Goals, 19 Years

A player that’s been at the top of the game for the past 15 years at the highest level. The diminutive Croatian maestro combines effortless dribbling and eye of the needle passes with a deadly killer ball.

At the absolute peak of Croatia’s transition to footballing superpower and the brains behind Real Madrid’s regular Champions League successes of the past decade. He has been one of the best midfielders in the world for almost 15 years and continues to burn brightly.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 8
Shooting 8
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 41

 

6. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho- took the showboating to a whole new level (Image: dreamstime.com)

AML, 12 Club Titles, 3 International Titles, 796 Games, 299 Goals, 17 Years

At his best at Barcelona when he routinely showboated his way to greatness week in week out. Impudent skill, incredible ability to move the ball at pace when dribbling and the ability to create and score great goals made him the most exciting player in the world in his peak.

Never reached the same levels after leaving the Nou Camp, his career lacks the longevity of some others in the list.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 5
Total 41

 

 

5. Johann Cruyff

AML, 22 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 750 Games, 435 Goals, 20 Years

For a player to be synonymous with the fabric of one club is unusual, for it to be the case with two clubs is unique.

Indeed, for many, Cruyff is total football. His skill, dribbling, passing, creativity and goalscoring qualities made him a leader and pioneer. Not just at Ajax and Barcelona, but for an entire nation with the Netherlands in the 1970s.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 5
Total 41

4. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi- exceptional stats, broke all records (Image: Dreastime.com)

AMR, 36 Club Titles, 1 International Title, 1010 Games, 794 Goals, 19 Years

Messi’s playmaking qualities are all too often overshadowed by his astonishing numbers in front of goal.

However, his low centre of gravity gives him the ability to go past players at speed and often lay the ball off into spaces that look impossible to find, while in full flow. As well as scoring hundreds of goals himself, he’s laid on almost as many for grateful team mates over the years.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 9
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 5
Total 42

3. Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne- is he the best footballer in the world right now? (Image: dreamstime.com)

MC, 14 Club Titles, 0 International Titles, 631 Games, 158 Goals, 14 Years

Arguably the best midfielder in the world today. Manchester City’s Belgian is absolutely crucial for club and country.

Ball winner, goal creator and goal scorer, de Bruyne has it all. His pace allows him to run at the heart of the opponent’s defence while his eye for and execution of a pass are unerring. Equally effective in the centre of midfield or wider on the right flank.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 8
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 42

2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane- first touch that neutralized his opponents (Image: Dreastime.com)

AMC, 14 Club Titles, 2 International Titles, 803 Games, 156 Goals, 17 Years

For many, Zidane was one of the most graceful players to have played the game. A first touch smoother than silk, a body swerve that tied opponents in knots and an effortless passer of the ball.

Zidane truly was poetry in motion, so much so that he is the focus of a feature film set to music over 90 minutes. Brilliant for club and country, he ended his career with a bang in the 2006 World Cup final with that headbutt on Marco Matterrazi showing the flawed side to his genius.

Zidane was one of the best attacking midfielders of all time.

 

Passing 10
Dribbling 9
Shooting 7
Vision 9
Defending 7
Total 42

 

1. Diego Maradona

AMC, 8 Club Titles, 2 International Titles, 649 Games, 334 Goals, 21 Years

Maradona’s influence on the Argentina side that won the 1986 World Cup and Napoli team that won the Scudetto in 1987 and 1990 cannot be underestimated.

At his absolute best, he was untouchable, particularly in full flow with the ball seemingly taped to his left foot. He created goals for his team mates, scored goals that defied belief and often won matches on his own through a moment or two of creative magic beyond mere mortals.

Quite simply, the best playmaker ever.

 

Passing 9
Dribbling 10
Shooting 9
Vision 9
Defending 6
Total 43