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2023 Round-up: Five best midfielders in world football

In 2023, while the spotlight often gravitated towards star forwards like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, the essence of football truly resonated in its midfield maestros. Serving as the heartbeat of teams, these central figures navigated the game’s rhythm, orchestrating plays with a blend of vision, precision, and tactical acumen. Their roles transcended mere statistics, influencing both defensive solidity and offensive flair. Beyond the glitz of goal-scoring feats, these midfielders emerged as the linchpins, seamlessly bridging defensive lines to attacking fronts. As we reflect upon the year’s footballing narratives, it’s essential to recognize and applaud these pivotal players who shaped the game’s intricate dance.

Here’s a curated roundup of the top five midfield virtuosos of 2023.

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City’s linchpin, orchestrates play with unmatched finesse, despite a recent injury stint. Since 2015, he’s amassed over 200 goal contributions and earned accolades like two Premier League Player of the Season titles. His lethal shooting, impeccable passing, and strategic crosses define him as a midfield virtuoso. While his consistent brilliance invites scrutiny, Belgium’s international silverware eludes him, a minor blemish on an otherwise illustrious career.

Jude Bellingham

Birmingham City’s 2020 decision to retire Jude Bellingham’s number 22 raised eyebrows, but the 20-year-old’s versatility quickly silenced doubters. Excelling defensively, in midfield, and creatively, he shone for England at the 2022 World Cup. Nearly guiding Dortmund to a Bundesliga title at 19, his 14 goals and seven assists showcased his prowess. Real Madrid’s €103 million acquisition marked him as their second-costliest signing. In Madrid’s 2023-24 season start, Bellingham’s 17 goals and five assists in 20 games underscore his meteoric rise, solidifying his status as football’s emerging superstar.

Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes began at Infesta, later excelling at Boavista. His Italian stint with Novara and Udinese caught Serie A giants’ eyes. Sporting CP signed him in 2017, where he shone as Primeira Liga’s top player. Manchester United acquired Fernandes in 2020, witnessing his Europa League impact and numerous accolades. Internationally, he’s vital for Portugal, contributing to a UEFA Nations League win and World Cup 2022 qualification. As Manchester United’s captain, Fernandes continues to leave an indelible mark on football.

Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard has flourished at Arsenal, emerging as a Premier League standout. As captain, the Norwegian midfielder melds creativity with goal-scoring prowess, tallying 15 goals and 8 assists last season. This season, he’s already scored seven times and assisted thrice. Since joining Arsenal, Odegaard’s become a top-tier central midfielder globally. His attacking flair enhances Arsenal’s offense, while his defensive acumen fortifies his game. Despite Arsenal’s Premier League miss last season, Odegaard stood out as their pivotal player, netting 15 goals and 7 assists.


Rodri is pivotal for Manchester City, evident when his absence led to team struggles. Excelling in midfield with tactical brilliance and defensive skills, he notably scored in the Champions League final against Inter Milan. Adapting initially to the Premier League, he now epitomizes Guardiola’s strategy with sharp interceptions and passes. Among elite company like Lahm and Busquets, Rodri’s impact shines. Integral to City’s treble, the 27-year-old’s trajectory promises more success ahead.

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Third year B.Tech. student pursuing CSE, specialisation in AIML from Nagpur, Maharashtra. Likes listening to songs, watching movies and solving different types of cubes.