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Defensive midfielders are finally getting the plaudits they deserve

Thursday 6th July 2017
Defensive midfielders have been slowly coming to the forefront for a little while now. But the Premier League has genuinely overseen the elevation of these players into the spotlight.

The blueprint of yesteryear

The position of defensive midfield is now considered to be the bedrock of a title-winning team. Zinedine Zidane's summary of the respective arrival and departure of David Beckham and Claude Makelele sums it up perfectly:

"Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you're losing the entire engine"

Zizou said this back in 2003. It took Los Blancos ten years, £1billion spent on players, a new generation of Galacticos and 11 managers to reclaim their European crown and complete "La Decima".

Current outlook

The man who redefined this position is N'Golo Kante and he has truly made it his own. Midway through his second season, he'd made so many tackles that he'd topped the list for most tackles made by a player in the past three years. If that doesn't speak volumes as to his impact, maybe this will:

N'Golo Kante is also the first player to win the Premier League in two consecutive seasons with two different clubs

The only comparison to Kante is RB Leipzig's Naby Keita, who has easily been the breakout star last season. Because of that, rumours began to fly about a £70m summer transfer to Anfield. He won the ball back five times per game and created as many chances as Sadio Mane per game last season. Along with that, he was involved in a goal every other game. The Guinea international's been in the German top-flight for just one season and he encompasses everything a three-man midfield tends to have. He's the complete player.

Ander Herrera was also a revelation in United's midfield with three interceptions per game, as he was deservedly voted United's player of the season.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Casimiro showed this season that he's been the missing piece in Real Madrid's jigsaw. The trio of himself, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric is now the best in the world. They bamboozled defences across Europe and left Europe's second best side in their wake en route to a League and European Cup double.

The future's looking bright

With Keita at 22, Casemiro at 25, Dani Ceballos and Ruben Neves at 20, the future's very bright. However, if Neves is looking to be on that plane to Russia next year, he will need a club bigger than Molineux (but that's another topic for another day). This European history maker has been previously linked to a host of top European clubs. Yet, it now looks like he's joining a mid-table Championship club. Fortunately, at 20 years-old it is not career suicide, just a stepping stone.

On top of these players mentioned, let's not forget the others including Adrien Rabiot, Marco Veratti and Franck Kessie. As we enter World Cup year, expect a number of players to blossom in their position as everyone looks to stake their claim for a spot in their respective national squad for next summer.
Tyrone Chambers

I know most people either love them or hate them but I a massive fan of Manchester United. I'm not afraid to speak the truth. Writing it as it is, bold enough to say it in the way no manager or player could say in public. I write about all things football but I love music as well, both listening and playing, keen drummer.

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