The midfield is, quite simply, the heartbeat of a football team.


It requires players that can do it all, from breaking up opposition attacks and winning back possession, to creating chances and getting on the scoresheet.

And midfielders come in all shapes and sizes as there are big defensive brutes, box-to-box workhorses and pint-sized playmakers.

It's a tough task trying to formulate a list of the world's best midfielders, but assessing long-term success, current ability and impact for club and country will help us get there.

Old favourites such as Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan as well as rising stars like Eduardo Camavinga and Gavi all miss the cut, which highlights the sheer class contained in our top 10.

More like this brings you our definitive list of the 10 best midfielders in the world in 2024.

Check our more football features: Best players of all time | Best players in the world 2024 | Best strikers 2024 | Best wingers 2024 | Best defenders 2024 | Best goalkeepers 2024 | Best young players 2024 | Best teams in the world 2024

Kevin De Bruyne in action for Man City on a green background
Best midfielder in the world Getty Images

10. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Frenkie de Jong in action for Barcelona
Frenkie de Jong. Getty Images

It's a testament to Frenkie de Jong's character that he overcame a slow start at the Nou Camp to become an integral figure in Barcelona's engine room.

A delightful passer of the ball with unrivalled vision, he fully deserves a place on our list.

9. Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Declan Rice in action for Arsenal
Declan Rice. Getty Images

Arsenal's record signing earns his place after captaining former club West Ham to the Europa Conference League last season, as well as his performances on the field this time around.

A brilliant ball winner, capable of spraying the ball about the pitch too, Rice is gradually becoming an elite force and he's likely to lift plenty more major trophies over the coming years.

8. Pedri (Barcelona)

Pedri in action for Barcelona
Pedri. Getty Images

Pedri is one of the most exciting prospects on the planet thanks to his lightning-quick feet, movement and progressive passing.

It's crazy to think Barcelona forked out just €5 million to Las Palmas for his services in 2019 – kudos to the scout that spotted his talent!

7. Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)

Federico Valverde in action for Real Madrid
Federico Valverde. Getty Images

After being lured from boyhood club Peñarol as an 18-year-old, Federico Valverde has gradually become a crucial fixture in the heart of Real Madrid's midfield after years of learning from Luka Modric and Toni Kross.

The Uruguay international enjoyed his personal-best season in 2022-23 after adding goals to the tenacious game that makes him a demon in the middle of the park.

6. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Joshua Kimmich points at the camera
Joshua Kimmich. Getty Images

One of the bargain buys in recent times – Bayern Munich handed over only €7 million to RB Leipzig for his services nine years ago – Joshua Kimmich has won 13 major trophies at club level including the 2019-20 Champions League.

The defensive midfielder makes the game look oh so simple thanks to a combination of slick passing and his knack for winning the ball back.

5. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Luka Modric in action for Real Madrid
Luka Modric. Getty Images

He's approaching the end of his career, but 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric remains a cut above in the engine room thanks to his pin-point passing.

He's been a fundamental figure in Real Madrid's domestic and continental successes, while also captaining Croatia to the World Cup final in 2018 and the semi-finals four years later.

4. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Bernardo Silva points to celebrate a Man City goal
Bernardo Silva. Getty Images

One of Pep Guardiola's favourite players, Bernardo Silva is the football equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife as he can play anywhere in midfield and attack.

Whether it's dribbling through defences, stopping opposition attacks or finding the back of the net, the Portuguese can do it all.

3. Rodri (Manchester City)

Rodri fist pumps the air to celebrate a goal
Rodri. Getty Images

Rodri is the glue that keeps Manchester City's treble-winning team ticking over – and it's a testament to his ability that their record without him in 2023-24 is quite poor.

Rodri does all the hard graft required in a defensive midfielder and carries out Pep Guardiola's tactics to a tee. Oh, he also chips in with the odd goal as well including the winner in last season's Champions League final.

2. Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)

Jude Bellingham celebrates a goal for Real Madrid with a cameraman behind him
Jude Bellingham. Getty Images

After announcing himself on the global stage at the Qatar World Cup in 2022, England's emerging force continued his meteoric rise by scoring at a rate of nearly one-goal per game for Real Madrid in the first half of the season.

He has been punching in top displays on the top stage for a long time now, even before his big-money switch from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid ahead of the 2023-24 season.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kevin De Bruyne runs away to celebrate a goal for Man City
Kevin De Bruyne. Getty Images

Who else but the highest-rated midfielder, according to the most recent edition of the Ballon d'Or awards.

Manchester City's midfield magician played a pivotal role in their treble-winning 2022-23 season, although a hamstring injury sustained in their Champions League final success against Inter Milan has limited his impact in the current campaign.

Pin-point passing, an eye for goal and a deadly cross, De Bruyne has all the attributes you want in an attacking midfielder.

Who is the best midfielder in the world?

He may have missed the majority of the 2023-24 season so far through injury, but Kevin De Bruyne remains the template for the dream midfielder.

He will, undoubtedly, go down as one of the greatest players to have graced the Premier League when he eventually leaves Manchester City.


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