Debate: Who is the best central midfielder in the world?

After Arturo Vidal boasted that he was greatest player on the planet in his position, five Goal writers debate who really is the No.1 in the middle of the park


Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal sparked huge debate on Wednesday morning when he boldly declared that he was the best central midfielder on the planet.

“I am the best player in the world in my position. That’s simply the way it is for me,” the Chilean was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“There are a lot of players out there in my position who try and play just like me and want to copy my style of play. But it’s quite clear that I’m the best in my role. Nobody puts in as much defensive work as I do and then scores a lot of goals on top of it as well.”

Vidal has undoubtedly developed into a world class player since joining Juve from Bayer Leverkusen in 2011, but is he the very best central midfielder on the planet? What about the likes of Andres Iniesta, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Yaya Toure? Or even Miralem Pjanic?

Five Goal writers argue their case for the player whom they believe to be the best central midfielder in the world. The selections are based on both current form and permanent ability, and each player must regularly play in a central midfield role – such as a midfield-three or midfield-two. Attacking midfielders who feature in more advanced positions such as Eden Hazard, Franck Ribery and Isco do not qualify.

By Carlo Garganese

Arturo Vidal is the perfect midfielder – defensively, offensively, physically, mentally, tactically, technically, the 26-year-old ticks every box. No one can rival Vidal’s ability to halt opposition attacks – the Chilean executed the most tackles in total in the Champions League group stages of this season and last. His goalscoring record for someone whose first responsibility is to defend is extraordinary – 57 goals in the last three and a half years.

Lightning fast, indefatigable and fiercely competitive, Vidal never stops running until the last kick. He has the heart of a lion – hence his nickname ‘The Warrior’ – and regularly plays through the pain barrier, as he did when he limped around the Chelsea pitch for an hour in inspiring Juventus to a 2-2 comeback draw last season.

He can fit into any system, can adapt to any culture or competition – unlike others in this debate – and is so complete he has also played for Juventus at centre back, wing back and even on the wing! Would walk into any team.

By Ben Hayward

Talk of the world’s best midfielders usually leads inevitably to mention of one club: Barcelona. In Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas, Barca boast four of the finest exponents of the current generation. And of those four, the first two stand out.

Xavi, who made his 700th appearance for the Catalan club earlier this month, was widely considered to be the better and the more important of the two in Pep Guardiola’s great team and also in Spain’s success at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

But Iniesta, since striking the winning goal for Spain in South Africa, has continued to shine for club and country and was simply sublime for la Rojaat Euro 2012. A brand new contract signed earlier this season, the 29-year-old has dipped slightly in form for his club this term, but will have one eye on the World Cup later this year and will be central to Spain’s hopes again. At his best, there is nobody near him at the moment. 

By Peter Staunton

It’s been a tough couple of years, injury-wise, for Bastian Schweinsteiger but that should not detract from his standing as the foremost midfielder in world football. He is the man who has made Bayern Munich tick in recent season and few can argue that Pep Guardiola’s side are not now the best team in the world.

He shows for every pass and rarely fails to find the mark. He covers his defence on instinct and is always in the right spot for an interception or a tackle. When fit, he is as a robust competitor as there is and he comes out on top in any midfield duel in which he is involved.

He has evolved into the complete central midfield player in the past number of seasons since Louis van Gaal restored him to that position, and Jupp Heynckes and Guardiola have both had no qualms about appointing him their on-field deputy. He is now a mature, responsible player and one who will again play a key part this season for both club and country.

By Miles Chambers

Yaya Toure is an undisputed central midfield giant. When discussing who is the best in the world at ploughing from box to box, locating strikers with a perfectly-placed pass, or instilling fear into opponents from set pieces, there is no one better right now than the Manchester City pivot.

Yaya’s brilliance has never been disputed – the ex-Barcelona man has been at the uppermost level for a few years now. But it is only this term that he is finally receiving the recognition he deserves. It helps that he has already scored more goals (14 and counting) at club level in 2013-14 than in any other campaign in his career.

Even when City’s form has dipped, Toure has remained an indefatigable presence and he has won Caf’s African Footballer of the Year award for three consecutive years. Camp Nou is a fortress for midfield talent, but the Ivorian is an example of how world-class quality can slip through the Catalunya cracks and shine elsewhere.

By Robin Bairner

Miralem Pjanic may not play for one of Europe’s very best sides, turning out for a Roma team starved of European football, but he has quietly established himself as one of the greatest midfielders in the world. The Bosnia international has become the fulcrum of Rudi Garcia’s revolution in the Italian capital.

Alongside the more robust Kevin Strootman and Daniele De Rossi, Pjanic’s primary responsibility is to provide a link between the midfield and attack. This is a role he carries out with excellence on a regular basis, fashioning numerous chances in each match.

Such is the formidable nature of Roma’s midfield, they have been dominant in virtually every Serie A fixture they have played this season and reduced the great Juventus to playing a counter-attacking game against them. Pjanic’s class was the primary reason, and to force a side such as Juve to adopt a different tactical approach is high praise of his excellence. As was his key role in taking Bosnia to their first ever World Cup.

Who do you think is the best central midfielder in the world? Vote in the poll and leave a comment below 

'Only Bayern can afford success' – Rummenigge slams PSG spending model

The Allianz Arena director has hailed the Bundesliga’s financial leanings and believes Europe’s big spenders cannot sustain their cashflow

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has hit out at the likes of Paris Saint-Germain for their excessive spending and feels only his side can afford to be so successful.

Rummenigge believes the Bavarians are the only top team in Europe making more money than they spend and he is proud of the financial model that’s being used in Germany.

“The Bundesliga’s financial model works very well. We do not spend more than we receive,” Rummenigge was quoted as saying by Kicker.

“The Premier League will remain the number one league, but even if we cannot catch them, the Bundesliga is still a great example of ‘affordable football’. We have to stay on this sustainable path.

“A club like Paris Saint-Germain have a €300 million payroll including taxes. It’s impossible to finance that.

“Bayern are the only top 10 club in Europe making a profit. We are the only team that can actually afford our success.”

The reigning Bundesliga champions recorded a record €432.8m turnover in 2013.

Rummenigge denies Bayern involvement in EU investigation

The Bavarians’ president has rejected claims his team were behind an inquiry that has seen Spanish clubs come under the microscope

Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has denied claims the club were behind an inquiry into the financial dealings of seven Spanish clubs, including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

At least seven teams within Spain’s top two leagues are being investigated over alleged irregular public funding, but Rummenigge has insisted that the Bavarians have nothing to do with the allegations.

“I was horrified when I heard the allegations and I can only deny the accusations in the strongest terms,” the 58-year-old told tz. “It’s a complete lie.

“I have heard only through the media that the EU are investigating Spanish clubs, but I don’t know any details.

“Therefore, I would like to stress that Bayern played no role in this, and we have not blackened the name of any Spanish clubs.”

Rummenigge added that his relationship with Madrid president Florentino Perez and Barca chief Sandro Rosell was further proof that the rumours were nothing more than pure fiction.

“I’m friends with Florentino Perez and Sandro Rosell. I was with one of them at the Player of the Year awards and we did not address the matter.

“This shows that they know that these allegations are not true. Otherwise, I would have responded to both of them. There is trust in our relationship.

“If there is any problem, we pick up the phone and call each other, and then we solve the issue the easy way. Once again: all completely invented.”

Man Utd interested in Dante

The Brazilian denied reports he is set to leave Bayern, but, while his agent has confirmed the Red Devils’ interest in his client, he maintains there have been no talks

By Sam Lee

Manchester United are interested in signing Bayern Munich defender Dante, though the player’s agent has warned any deal to take the player to the Premier League is far from close.

The Red Devils are long-term admirers of the Brazil international, having previously shown interest before he completed a move to the Allianz Arena from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2012, and continue to monitor his progress with the European champions.

Goal understands that Bayern are receptive to offers for the 30-year-old, having so far been unable to reach agreement on an extension to the defender’s current contract which expires at the end of next season.

After being asked by Fox Sport Brasil if he had already signed for United, Dante said: “Not yet. I am still a Bayern player. I appreciate Manchester United’s interest. At the end of the month it will be resolved.”

“We’ll have to wait until the 31st, but there’s still a lot to come.”

But while Dante suggests a move to Old Trafford is close, his agent was keen to stress that at the moment he has not held talks with any club but Bayern, although he did admit that English football interests his client.

“He has two more years on his contract and we are now in the race to make a new contract, but at the moment we have not found a solution so we are still waiting for Bayern,” Marcus Marin told Goal. “We are not in touch with any other clubs at the moment but in football you never know.

When asked specifically about Dante’s quotes on Brazilian television and Manchester United’s supposed interest, Marin replied: “No, I know that they follow him and we were in touch with Manchester [United] two years ago before [Dante] went to Bayern Munich, but at the moment I know only that they watch him at games, but we haven’t spoken to the club at the moment.

“We have not found a solution [with Bayern], so we are still in the race, but England is very interesting, Manchester United are a big club so you never know.

“Next month [Bayern] play in the next round of the Champions League against Arsenal and it is a good way to present himself in England. In the last game [in England] he played very well so yeah, we will see.”

Dante was part of the Bayern Munich team that won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2013, as well as the Brazil side that claimed the Confederations Cup last summer.

United’s search for reinforcements has taken manager David Moyes across Europe, with the Scot present at Cagliari versus Juventus earlier this month to run the rule over home defender Davide Astori – as well as Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

The Premier League champions have also held talks with Benfica regarding Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay.

Veteran defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic look set to leave Old Trafford this summer having not been offered extensions to their current deals, which expire at the end of the season.

Bayern turned down Chelsea offer for Ribery, reveals Rummenigge

The German giants could have cashed in on the France international in 2008, with Chelsea making an official bid and an enquiry from Real Madrid

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has revealed that Bayern Munich turned down a big-money offer from Chelsea for Franck Ribery in 2008.

The France international was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid at the time, but Rummenigge has made it clear that the Spanish giants were not the only team after Ribery’s signature.

“Ribery is a hero with the fans and it’s a good thing that we didn’t give in when Real Madrid and a few more teams showed an interest in signing him in 2008,” the Bayern chairman was quoted as saying by TZ.

“We solved everything like gentlemen with Madrid, although I must stress that there was no official offer. They made an enquiry and we closed the door on a move right away.

“We could have made a lot of money, because we also had an official offer from Chelsea that was utter madness. It was the right thing not to sell him, though.

“That showed all clubs that Bayern are a buying club rather than a selling club. That’s the way it works with the big teams. You don’t stand a chance if a team like Barcelona or Madrid don’t want to sell and the same thing goes for Bayern these days.”

Ribery, 30, signed a new contract with Bayern until the summer of 2017 last year and has stated more than once that he intends to retire at the Bundesliga champions.