We take a look at Bundesliga’s industrious and often creative midfielders to see who are the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time?
German football is known for its organized and demanding way of approaching both attack and defense, with every player on the pitch having a set of specific responsibilities. This organized way of playing football which is the hallmark of German football is so often made possible by the excellent midfielders who are at the heart of everything that happens on the pitch. So we have taken upon ourselves to look at some of the
best Bundesliga midfielders of all time
and talk a bit about their achievements.
Although German football has been around for many decades, the Bundesliga as a competition has only been around since 1963, so when talking about best ever Bundesliga midfielders, we are talking about those who actually played in the competition and not prior it. So let’s see who is on this list:
With Bayern Munich having won more than half (29) of Bundesliga seasons ever (57), it is to be expected that a lot a lot of the players among all-time best Bundesliga midfielders are Bayern Munich players, so who are these players?!
By being perhaps one of the most underrated players of the last decade, Javi Martinez is almost never considered in these kind of lists but the Spanish man and the only none-German player amongst
best ever Bundesliga midfielders
is one of the most decorated players of all-time, having won 8 Bundesliga titles, 2 Champions Leagues (both Trebles), 5 DFB Pokals, 1 FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich and with his national team Spain, 1 World Cup and a 1 Euro Championships in 2010 and 2012 respectively.
Trusted by all 4 of the managers he worked under at Bayern Munich,Javi Martinez
has worked under different tactics and style of play but he has alwas been consistently good and productive under any tactics, which speaks volumes about his quality as a player, although he seems to pick up a serious one practically every season but when he is fit no one can question his dedication and high level of performances, either as a defensive midfielder or even a center back.
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With 253 appearances and 14 goals in his 9 season stay at Munich, Martinez appears to be spending his last days as Bayern Munich player. over the course of his career, Martinez’ versatility above everything else has made him a player that many coaches have relied upon heavily. With him in the team, coaches like Guardiola could easily change formations a number of times during a single match, and that versatility alongside his defensive set of skills and tactical awareness has truly made him one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time.
The Iron Lung
is the firstMonchengladbach
player to appear on the list of best Bundesliga midfielders of all time but he will certainly not be the last. Wimmer, who actually was born in Eupen, Belgium, played almost the entirety of his career at Borussia Monchengladbach, in an era that the club dominated the Bundesliga. Wimmer’s famous partnership with Guenter Netzer in the heart of ‘Gladbach team made so much of that success possible.
Initially a forward, Wimmer was moved to play a deeper more defensive role in Gladbach, mainly due to his incredible stamina and work-rate. He was what is now known as a destroyer, as he mainly focused in stopping opposition’s attacks and regaining possession and leaving the playmaking to his more creative partner, Netzer. His hard working attitude has become a staple of how Bundesliga greatest midfielders ever should approach the game.
As was mentioned above, Wimmer helped Gladbach achieve unprecedented success as he won five Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and the UEFA Cup in 1975. He also appearead in 3 major finals for West Germany, helping them win the 1972 Euros by scoring a goal in the final and 2 years later winning the World Cup against Netherlands. As part of the greatest generation of German players in the 70s and as one of the greatest Monchengladbach players, Wimmer truly deserves being called one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time.
Perhaps one of the more well-known
all-time best Bundesliga midfielders
among today’s football fans is Bayern Munich’s youth academy graduate Bastian Schweinsteiger. Although Basti started his career as a wide midfielder, operating on the flanks, he was soon moved to more central positions where his abilities were best used and became one of the best midfielder of his generation, one that many players that came after tried to imitate.
Schweinsteiger has been called midfield motor, midfield mastermind or maestro during his career because of his ability to read the game and dictate the tempo of play. He usually operated as a deep lying playmaker and was successful in defensive work too because of his incredible stamina. His positioning allowed him to regain possession of the ball often, before engaging in physical contact to win the ball. In attack, his powerful and almost infamous strikes also did bring many goals for Germany and Bayern Munich.
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Although he did play at Premier League and MLS for Manchester United and Chicago Fire, his time at Bundesliga was entirely spent at Bayern Munich where he managed to win an unprecedented 8 Bundesliga titles, 7 DFB-Pokals, 1 FIFA World Cup and 1 Champions League title. He also helped Germany immensely as they won the World Cup in 2014, after becoming 3rd in the previous 2 World Cups with them. he has left a legacy to not only be considered as one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time but one of the best German players ever, which puts him among a select few.
Football fans today may know him from his managerial days at Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg or Schalke 04 but during his playing days Magath actually became one of the
all-time best midfielders at Bundesliga
by helpingHamburg SV
during the club’s golden years in the 70s and 80s. although he did start his career elsewhere at clubs like1. FC Saarbrücken
before joining Hamburg in 1976.
Magath often played in more advanced roles as an attacking midfielder, which in turn allowed him to score frequently. With some of his goals being the most important in the club’s history as he scored in both European Cup Winners’ Cup final and European Cup (now known as Champions League) and helped Hamburg win on both occasions.
In total Felix Magath spent 10 seasons at Hamburg, appearing in 385 games and scoring 63 goals, helping them win three Bundesliga titles, European Cup Winners' Cup and European Cup. He also represented West Germany 43 times and helped them reach 2 World Cup finals in 1982 and 1986, which they lost on both occasions, and also the 1980 Euro which they won and thus he cemented his place as one of the most decorated German players ever and one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time.
One of the most gifted but also unluckiest German football players ever is Michael Ballack, who made a name for himself whilst playing forKaiserslautern
and later Bayern Munich and quickly became one of all-time best Bundesliga midfielders. Although because of his unlucky string of finals and semi-finals appearances, Ballack did not win as many trophies as some of the best players ever but there is no doubt that in his prime, he was one of the best players in the world.
Ballack’s career started atChemnitzer FC
and he soon moved to Kaiserslautern in 1997 and eventually won his first Bundesliga title in his first season there. after 2 seasons there, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, where established himself as a world-class talent. Perhaps one of the best and yet unluckiest seasons of his career was the 2001-02 season where he scored an incredible 23 goals but Bayer Leverkusen ended up being runner-ups in Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the Champions League and if that wasn’t enough, Ballack would go on to be runners-up with Germany in 2002 World Cup too.
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An extremely proficient goal scorer as a midfielder, Ballack was known for his commanding presence as well as his versatility in every skill that an outfield player should have. He could defend almost as well as help in attack. He was good in the air and had an incredible long-range shooting ability. His inch perfect long passes also helped him control the flow of the game and create many opportunities.
Besides a 4 season stint at Chelsea between 2006 and 2010, Michael Ballack spent all his career at Bundesliga, mainly with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, he won 4 Bundesliga titles and 3 DFB-Pokals as well as being runners-up with Germany’s national team in 2002 World Cup and 2008 Euros. He also captained Germany to the 3rd place in 2006 World Cup and became one of their all-time top goal scorers. Ballack left a legacy that certainly puts him among the
best Bundesliga midfielders of all time
and best German players ever and that is something that few have achieved
One of the first Germans with Turkish descent who was truly successful at both International and club level was the Karlsruhe-born Mehmet Scholl. He started his career at the local clubKarlsruher
before joining Bayern Munich in 1992. There he became one of the finest attacking midfielders of his generation and one of the
best Bundesliga midfielders ever
During his 15 season stay at Bayern Munich, Scholl brought the kind of creativity and flair to Bayern Munich that most German midfielders generally seem to lack. He often used that creativity to open teams up allowing Bayern more scoring chances as well scoring on quite a lot of occasions himself, constantly reaching 10+ goals in a season, especially in the first decade of his Bayern Munich career.
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Although he was a brilliant player, Scholl’s career was hindered by numerous injuries and he ended up appearing in 468 games for Bayern in which he scored 116 goals. looking at the trophies he has won it becomes abundantly clear why he is one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time as he has won 8 Bundesliga titles, 5 DFB-Pokals, 1 UEFA Cup and a Champions League with Bayern Munich as well as helping Germany win the 1996 Euro Championships. He was also named in the Bundesliga\s team of the year twice as well as being named in Bayern Munich’s all-time XI.
The only player linked withSchalke 04
to appear on the best Bundesliga midfielders ever is Andreas Moller although at club level, Moller also played forEintracht Frankfurt
, where he started and ended his career, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus. He was an extremely talented midfielder who was successful everywhere he went, especially withDortmund
, and he helped set the standard of a modern attacking midfielder in the Bundesliga.
As far as his abilities as a playmaker is concerned, Andy Moller was not lacking in any department. His excellent passing ability alongside his ball carrying capabilities and great vision allowed him to create many scoring opportunities for his teammates. In addition to that Moller was also great in the air and could strike powerful shots with both his feet which allowed him to score often and even sometimes be deployed as a second striker.
Andy Moller won 2 Bundesliga titles, 1 DFB-Pokal and a Champions League title with Dortmund in addition to winning a UEFA Cup with Juventus and 2 DFB Pokals with Schalke 04. At international level he was also extremely successful as he helped Germany win the 1990 World Cup and 1996 Euros, establishing himself as one of the greatest German players ever as well as being one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time.
Definitely one of the most creative players in Germany’s history and one of
Bundesliga greatest midfielders ever
is Guenter Netzer. He alongside Wimmer, another player on this list, were at the heart of everything that happened at Borussia Monchengladbach during the 70s, when the club absolutely dominated the Bundesliga. Netzer went on to be the first German who player with Real Madrid and ended up winning 2 La Liga and Copa del Rey titles there.
Perhaps the current player that could be likened to Netzer is Mesut Ozil, as Netzer also had a reputation to be at times “lazy”. At Gladbach, this supposed deficiency was entirely covered by his partner in midfield Herbert Wimmer, but in the national team he was not that lucky as he didn’t play a major role because of his lack of work-rate but he did end up winning the Euro and World Cup in 1972 and 1974 respectively.
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Netzer’s time at Bundesliga was only spent at ‘Gladbach, where he helped the club win 2 Bundesliga titles, 1 DFB-Pokal and a runner-up place in UEFA Cup before leaving after 10 seasons at ‘Gladbach to join Real Madrid. His inch-perfect passes, impressive free-kicks and marvelous technique is the reason he is one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time as well as being considered to be one of the best of all time. after all, a player who becomes German Player of the Year twice in an era that Gerd Muller and Franz Beckenbauer was surely doing something very right and deserves to be among the best of the best.
Wolfgang Overath would’ve been the all-time best midfielders at Bundesliga if it wasn’t for Lothar Matthaus but even now he is a close 2nd in our opinion. One of the rare One-club players, Overath spent his entire career playing forFC Koln
, although at the time ‘Gladbach and Bayern Munich were the superpowers in the Bundesliga, but nonetheless Overath proved his worth by helping Koln win titles as well as helping Germany enormously in 3 different World Cups.
Known for his technique and his excellent left foot, Overath excelled at being an attacking midfielder as he would often score goals as well as create scoring chances for his teammates with his exceptional passing skills. Perhaps the rivalry between Overath and Netzer, who came before him on our list, was one of the highlights of his career, as Overath was usually favored above Netzer because of his work-rate and a somewhat less flamboyant character both on and off the pitch.
Overath played for FC Koln in 768 matches and scored an incredible amount of 287 goals, helping them win 1 Bundesliga and 2 DFB-Pokals during his career. he is also one of 7 players who have a first, second and third World Cup Medals winning them in 1974,1966 and 1970 World Cups respectively. For his services to Germany’s national team as well as being the greatest FC Koln player, Overath certainly has proved himself to be one of the best Bundesliga midfielders of all time.
Who else could be at the top of the list of Bundesliga greatest midfielders ever but the great Lothar Matthaus. Widely considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time, Matthaus played for many teams during his career but he spent more than half his career at Bayern Munich, both in more attacking roles and later in his career in defensive or sweeper role, helping Bayern, Inter Milan and Germany win many trophies.
Matthaus started his career at ‘Gladbach in 1979 and stayed with them until 1984, although he didn’t win any major honors with ‘Gladbach, he did manage win 1980 Euro with Germany. In 1984 he joined Bayern and he managed to win 3 Bundesliga titles and a DFB Pokal. Bayern also managed to reach the Champions League final in 1987 but despite leading 1-0 for the majority of the game, they conceded 2 late goals and lost the final to Porto.
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Next Matthaus to Inter Milan, where he did manage to win a Serie A and a UEFA Cup. Coincidentally this was at the peak of his career, where he captained Germany to World Cup glory in 1990 and received the Ballon d’Or later that year for the part he played in that World Cup victory. Matthaus would come back to Bayern in 1992, staying for 8 years, and winning 4 more Bundesliga titles as well as 2 DFB Pokals and a UEFA Cup.
Matthaus who was a prominent goal scorer in his early days as a player, became a more defensive player in his later years. As a Ballon d’Or winner, a legend of Germany and football in general, Matthaus will forever be one of the
best Bundesliga midfielders of all time
as well as being one of the best midfielders ever which was somewhat proven by his recent inclusion in France Football’s Dream Team.
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