A look at the best attacking midfielders of all time which includes the like of Brazilian greats, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Pele as well as their Argentinian nemeses Lionel Messi and Diego Armando Maradona.
For many years, the most popular position on the football field was the attacking midfielder. Many of The best superstars of the football world played in this position. The likes of Pele, Maradona, Socrates, Rivera and Platini were usually known for their creativity as well as goal scoring abilities.
Normally wearing the number ten shirt, the role of an attacking midfielder was opening up the opposition's defense line and sending the final pass to the strikers. These attacking midfielders were no strangers to scoring goals themselves and usually had great stats in goal scoring and providing assists.
However, football has changed a lot in recent decades and with more emphasis on new roles such as full-backs and the false number nine, the role of the attacking midfielder has greatly decreased.
Having said all that, one thing has remained the same throughout the position's evolution. It has produced some legendary players and in this article we will present you with a list of best attacking midfielders of all time.
From the great superstars of 1950's to more recent examples like Zinaddine Zidane and Messi, SportMob is presenting you with a list of the
best attacking midfielders of all time
Spain's world cup winning goal scorer in 2010,Andres Iniesta
is rightly considered among the best attacking midfielders in the world of all time.
Iniesta has won every possible trophy in his almost 20 year career and was one of the few players who enjoyed a standing ovation fromReal Madrid
diehard fans at the Santiago Bernabeu. He also won one FIFA World Cup and two back to back European Championships with Spain, performing at the highest level in each of those competitions.
Definitely one of the best attacking midfielders ever, Andres Iniesta was known more for his great dribbling and passing abilities than his goal scoring stats. As of October 2020, He has scored a total of 85 goals in 912 games for Barcelona, Vissel Kobe and Spain National Team.
Most certainly one of
the best attacking midfielders of all time
, the prince of Roma was known for his deadly set pieces and great passing abilities. He was amazing whenever he played and many big clubs tried helplessly to seduce him out ofAS Roma
Real Madrid came close to securing his services, but Totti resisted the temptation and stayed at his beloved club although it meant he wouldn't get the individual and collective awards he deserved. It was a different story with the Italian National team as Totti won the world cup with Nerazzuri in 2006.
In total Totti scored a total of 307 and has provided 183 assists in 785 games for AC Roma and Italy National Team.
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One of the five Brazilians in our list of best attacking midfielders of all time, Rivaldo played his most successful years at Barcelona. The left-footed magician performed mainly as an offensive midfielder but he was also deadly as a second striker.
Rivaldo was an influential player for Barcelona and Brazil in the early years of 21st century. He won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and helpedBarcelona
to come out of Real Madrid shadows. He won the Ballon D'or once and scored 230 goals in 521 matches during his illustrated career.
One of the
greatest attacking midfielders of all time
, Ruud Gullit was known for his dread-lock hairstyle and political activities as well as his genius as an offensive midfielder. The enigmatic Dutch playmaker was and integral part of the legendary AC Milan side which dominated the football world in the last two decades of the twentieth century.
Gullit was one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation. He won the European Championship with the Netherland and theUEFA Champions League
with AC Milan. He was also named the world best player twice. in total, Gullit scored 171 goals in 444 Games throughout his career.
Like Gullit, The great Brazilian maestro, Socrates, was not just a genius attacking midfielder, but also a political activist.
Remembered mostly for his headband and beard on the football pitch, Socrates inspired many footballers and even non-footballers in the 1970s and '80s. He captained the Brazilian national team in 1982 and 1986 World Cup, but was eliminated by Italy and France respectively. Socrates died at the age of 57 after scoring 236 goals in 513 games during his career.
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No football fan can argue against the inclusion of Ronaldinho among the
best attacking midfielders of all time
. He played football with such eagerness and childlike enthusiasm that fans nicknamed him rightly "The Poet of Football".
Ronaldinho wonLa Liga
and Uefa Champions League and the Ballon D'or with Barcelona as well as the 2002 World Cup with Brazil. He was such a great playmaker that even Real Madrid fans couldn't help to stand and applaud the Brazilian Magician when he terrorized Madrid's defense in Barcelona's famous 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu back in 2004.
Ronaldinho scored a total of 197 goals and provided 162 assists in 543 games as a playmaker.
Baggio was such a great playmaker that even missing the penalty kick against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup Final did not hamper his place among the best attacking midfielders of all time. He was sensational in the 1990 World Cup and single-handedly guided Italy to the semi-final, where they were beaten in penalty shoot-outs to Maradona's Argentina.
Known for his speed, dribbling abilities and masterful free-kicks, Roberto Baggio played for many clubs including Inter Milan andJuventus
during his career as an attacking midfielder. He scored 278 Goals and provided 57 Assists to justify his place in the list of best attacking midfielders in football history.
A versatile playmaker and the jewel of Real Madrid in the 50s, Alfredo Di Stefano lifted the UEFA Champions League an incredible five times in a row with Los Blancos. The trio of Di Stefano, Puskas and Gento made history together and they were magnificent on the international level as well.
Di Stefano was famous for being two-footed and technically brilliant. He scored 279 goals in 398 games and provided many assists for his team mates. Di Stefano won two Ballon Do'rs and is considered by fans and critics among the
best attacking midfielders ever
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the best player if England's golden generation in the 60's, Sir Bobby Charlton won the 1966 World Cup as the captain and for many years was his country's all time goal scorer with 49. Charlton was also great forManchester United
in one of their best spells ever as they won their first European Cup in 1968.
Bobby Charlton was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world of all time. One of the few Englishmen to win the Ballon D'or, Charlton was an incredible dribbler. He scored 199 goals for the Red Devils in 606 Appearances across all competitions.
Despite his woeful career as a football administrator in which he was charged for corruption, Michel Platini was one of the best attacking midfielders of all time. Platini is one of the few players who have won three Ballon d'Or and more amazing is the fact that he won them consequently.
Platini was a key star for France when they won the 1984 European Championship and when they reached the 1986 World Cup semi-final. Platini spent most of his playing career at Juventus, scoring 312 goals in 580 games for the Old Lady.
Known as 'the king' among his fans, Eric Cantona is rather a rare choice when it comes to decide the best attacking midfielders of all time, given the fact that he only won a few trophies throughout his career. Still, he was such a unique talent that we simply could not overlook him.
Cantona first caught the eyes when he guided Leeds United to their lastPremier League
title. The following season he joined Manchester United and won the hearts of football fans with his technical abilities as well as his incredibly charismatic personality. King Eric spent the best years of his career at Old Trafford, scoring a total of 64 goals in 131 games for the Red Devils.
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The Argentinian magician needs no introduction as his historical achievements are enough of a testament to his greatness and intelligence. He has won every possible award, except well, the world cup of course, and has broken many of the longest-standing records in the history of football.
Messi started his career as a right back and later performed as a false nine, but no one will argue against him being in the list of
best attacking midfielders in football history
. After all, He is the only player to have won six Ballon Do'rs and Six Golden Shoes. With an average of almost a goal in every game, Lionel Messi is the complete attacking midfielder.
A natural-born winner both as a player and as a manager, Zidane has won everything in his career. as a player, Zidane won the Champions League, the World Cup and the Ballon d'Or. He is also the only manager in the history of football to win three back-to-back Uefa Champions League, a feat he accomplished with his old time club, Real Madrid.
Zidane scored a total of 125 goals in 680 Games in his career. He was one of the last true Number Tens in the history of the sport.
The ever controversial superstar, EL Diego reached a god-like status in Argentina after guiding his homeland to World Cup glory in 1986, scoring two of the most memorable goals of the history along the way.
Maradona was one of the best attacking midfielders of all time. He linked up defense with attack like never seen before. He was so tactically intelligent that he didn't need any tactics! He single-handedly guided Napoli to the Serie A title and was exceptional for some other big clubs like Barcelona and Boca Juniors as well.
the best attacking midfielders in the world of all time
, Diego Maradona played … games in his club career and scored an impressive 310 goals in 590 games. Fans and critics around the world praised his playmaking abilities and consider him as the best player in the history of football alongside Pele.
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The mastermind behind the famous Total Football system needs no further justification to be on the list of the bet attacking midfielders of all time. He revolutionized the game both as a player and as a coach. His most memorable moments as a playmaker were his acrobatic goal against Athletic Bilbao and his famous Panenka Penalty inAjax
As a coach, Cruyff implemented his playing knowledge into modern tactics and helped Barcelona get back on the elite map of football by winning 4 La Liga and 1 Uefa Champions League title. However, for all his greatness, he could not bring a world cup to his home nation, Netherlands, as he was beaten by Germany in the final of the 1974 World Cup.
During his illustrated career, Cruyff scored 402 goals in 702 Games to further prove himself as one of the
greatest attacking midfielders of all time
Few fans and critics would disagree that Pele is truly one of the best attacking midfielders in the world of all time. The Brazilian magician achieved everything in football and many of his records, like winning the world cup three times and scoring more than a thousand goals are yet to be beaten.
Edson Arantes Dona Simento, or as we know him, Pele is regarded as one of the top three of the greatest attacking midfielders of all time He won his first of three world cups at the tender age of 17 and to this day no one has been able to reach the same height Pele was during his highly successful career. He was the first person to call football "the beautiful game". Definitely one of the best attacking midfielders in football history.
There it was! Our list of best attacking midfielders of all time. So tell us what you think? Who should have included it in the list? Which playmaker do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below.