Fri 04 March 2022 | 14:30

Best South American Midfielders of 2021

Who are the best South–American midfielders in 2021? In the following article, we've compiled who we think are the current top midfielders in the South America. Read on to find out more about ranking the South America’s top midfielders.

While at the end of every year attackers who have scored the most goals are at the center of attention, midfielders usually don't get the praise they deserve. They are the ones who performed magic and make goal scoring chances for the attackers with their creativity.

Moreover, the defensive midfielders are just as important in defensive tactics as the center backs are, and perhaps even more determining than the actual defenders since the midfielders are the ones with the responsibility of covering dangerous empty areas on the pitch.

The extent of how decisive the presence of a good midfielder in a team can be is rather neglected by the fans. However, every football team that achieves a title definitely has a powerful player on their midfield to arrange the team's balance, to alter the pace of the game, and brings the coach's tactical thoughts into play.

Although South American football have been known for having brilliantly skilled  attackers with outstanding dribbling skills, a number of  South American midfielders – both attacking and defensive – have come into prominence especially in recent years, making the world look at South American footballers in a different way rather than only seeing them as well – skilled, naturally talented attackers.

The attackers from the southern hemisphere have always been among the best players of the world, but the trend has come into balance upon the emergence of a number of South American midfielders that impressed football fans significantly.

Although picking only a few players from South America - the breeding ground for the world's best football players – is not an easy task, in this article, we have compiled a list of who we suppose were Best South American midfielders of 2021.

In the year in which 2021 Copa America was held and Argentina ended up as the champions, these midfielders – as well as attackers, defenders, and goalkeepers, have been mostly judged by their performances during the competition.

However, these players have not only caught football fans' eyes on their international duty during the 2021 Copa America, but they have also shined on club level while playing for their European clubs in the domestic leagues and also the UEFA champions League.

Best South American Midfielders of 2021:

Read on to learn about the best South American midfielders of 2021, as well as a brief overview of their performances during the year.

Rodrigo De Paul, Argentina, Udinese – Atletico de Madrid

  • Full name: Rodrigo Javier De Paul

  • Date of birth: 24 May 1994 (age 27)

  • Place of birth: Sarandí, Argentina

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

  • Current team: Atlético Madrid

A versatile midfielder with astounding abilities in defending tasks as well as the attacking duties, the 27 – year – old Argentinean midfielder's astounding performances for the Italian side Udinese during the 2020/21 Serie A season in which he scored 9 goals and provided 9 assists within 36 appearances made him a regular starter for Argentina during the Copa America.


De Paul

completed an average of 3.5 dribbles per match which was the second best record of the league, as well as sending 2.3 key passes per game, which was the 3rd best record among Serie A players.

Moreover, upon making 20 big chances during the season, he was the most creative player of the season alongside Atalanta's Josip Ilicic.

Although De Paul was given more defensive roles by

Lionel Scaloni

during the Copa America, he kept shining during the tournament and attracted a number of big European clubs' attention for his astonishing performances during 2021 – both on club and international level.

The year 2021 has undoubtedly been the most luminous year of his career. De Paul was one of the

best players in South America 2021

who played a vital role in Argentina's winning the title after 28 years according to pundits.

He scored the opening goal in Argentina's 3 – 0 win against Ecuador in the quarter finals of the tournament, and later in the final match against Brazil, De Paul performed magic with his long pass that set up

Angel Di Maria

to score the one and only goal of the match that allowed Albiceleste to win their 15th ever Copa America trophy and equal Uruguay's record.

He was deservedly named in the team of the tournament. De Paul eventually left Udinese as the club's captain only a few days after winning the Copa America 2021 to join the Spanish champions Atletico Madrid on a 5 – year contract for a transfer fee of €35.00m.

The Argentinean, who was indubitably one of the

best South American midfielders of 2021

, hopes he can be as shining in his new club.

However, his new tactical roles on the pitch that are given by

Diego Simeone

won't allow him to score or assist as much as he used to, and due to his new defensive duties, he has only scored 2 goals for Rojiblancos so far.

With the luminous performances Argentinean fans have been seeing from Rodrigo De Paul, they are rightful to be extremely hopeful toward the upcoming World Cup in 2022, as Argentina currently has a 29 – games unbeaten streak, which is the longest active run in international football, and are considered as one of the probable champions.

Luis Diaz, Colombia, FC Porto – currently at Liverpool

  • Full name: Luis Fernando Díaz Marulanda

  • Date of birth: 13 January 1997 (age 25)

  • Place of birth: Barrancas, Colombia

  • Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Winger

  • Current team: Liverpool

The Colombian left midfielder – winger have been revered by football fans and pundits for the magic he has been performing at his previous club, Porto, his national team, and  most recently,



Not only was he one of the best South American midfielders of 2021, he was arguably one of the

Copa America bests player of 2021



was one of the best players of the Portuguese League where he scored 6 goals and provided 5 assists throughout 2020/21 season.

He completed 1.9 dribbles per match during the league and caught peoples' eyes with his astonishing skills with the ball. Later in the Summer, Copa America 2021 was Luis Diaz's breakthrough period; he was the tournament's top scorer with 4 goals alongside Lionel Messi and was awarded the Golden Boot as the joint top scorer of 2021 Copa America.

Diaz had the best Mins per goal ratio by scoring a goal every 96 minutes on average. In addition, Diaz completed 5.2 dribbles per match throughout the tournament which stood him in the second place of the list of the players with most completed dribbles per match only after


who had completed 5.8 dribbles per game.

He helped his country to finish 3rd in the 2021 Copa America, being eliminated in penalties by the eventual champions Argentina. Moreover, he continued his astounding form into the new season of 2021/22 and managed to net 14 goals and provide 4 assists within only 18 goals during the first half of the 2021/22 Liga Portugal.

His great performances resulted in him being named the league's Player of the Month as well as the Forward of the Month for October and November of 2021. After scoring 4 goals and providing 3 assists during the December of 2021, Diaz was named the league's Forward of the Month for the second successive month.

These astonishing performances led to his departure from the Portugal side, and Liverpool signed him for a transfer fee of €45.00m with a reported €15.00m add – ons, with a contract length of five years.

Lucas Paqueta, Brazil – Lyon

  • Full name: Lucas Tolentino Coelho de Lima

  • Date of birth: 27 August 1997 (age 24)

  • Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

  • Current team: Lyon

The 24 – year – old midfielder has been in his greatest form ever since he joined


in the September of 2020 after a rather unsuccessful spell at A.C. Milan.

Lucas Paqueta

was one of the best players in 2020/21 French League 1 and also one of the

best South American midfielders of 2021


He appeared in a total of 30 League 1 games for Lyon during 2020/21 season and managed to score 9 goals and provide 5 assists. Moreover, he sent 1.5 key passes per match, and created a total of 10 big chances. He was also a successful player in defending acts as he won 23 possessions in the final 3rd, and 85 in total.

In addition, Lucas Paqueta played an important role in Brazil's reaching the final match of the 2021 Copa America on home soil as he scored 2 goals in 6 games during the tournament for Selecao, both of which were game – winners and were indubitably Brazil's most decisive and vital goals during the tournament.

He scored the decisive game – winner goal in the 1 – 0 victory against Chile in the quarter finals. He netted in the 46th minute of the game, and within 2 minutes Gabriel Jesus was sent off by the referee, and Paqueta's goal remained the one and only goal of the match until the final whistle.

Three days later, Paqueta scored another game winner in the semi – finals against Peru which took Brazil to their 2nd consecutive Copa America final. However, Argentina gave them a taste of their own medicine and beat them 1 – 0 on Brazilian soil.

In addition to contributing to the attack line, Paqueta's defensive performance was just as luminous during the tournament: he performed 1.8 successful tackles per game with a success rate of 78.6%, the best record of his team and 4th among all players.

Moreover, he managed to win a total of 15 possessions from the opponent – 5 of which in the final 3rd. Furthermore, upon sending 6 key passes he was one of the most creative players of his team.

Paqueta has continued his bright form to 2021/22 season where he has scored 7 goals and provided 3 assists for Lyon during the League 1 season by the end of February of 2022.

Being an unquestionable player in the list of the

Best South American footballers 2021

, we have to wait and see if he can retain his form and be on the list for next year.

Brazilian football fans have gotten their hopes high for 2022 World Cup and count on Lucas Paqueta to continue shining until then.

Juan Cuadrado, Colombia – Juventus

  • Full name: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello

  • Date of birth: 26 May 1988 (age 33)

  • Place of birth: Necoclí, Colombia

  • Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Winger, full-back

  • Current team: Juventus

The versatile player can be deployed anywhere his coaches desire, as long it on the right side of the pitch! The right – defender – midfielder – winger was one of Juventus's luminous players during the year in which the team did not find much happiness and finish 4th in the 2020/21 Serie A after winning  9 successive titles.


also shined on international level for his country Colombia during 2021 Copa America and was without a doubt one of the best South American midfielders of 2021 – IF we can call him a mere 'midfielder'!

Cuadrado provided 10 assists during 2020/21 Serie A which was the 3rd best record of the league. In addition, the 33 – year – old player, who is also renowned for his great vision and chance creating abilities on the pitch, created a total of 17 big chances throughout the season (5th in the league), and sent an average of 2 key passes per game (7th in the league).

Additionally, Cuadrado completed an average of 1.5 dribbles per match. With all that being said, Juan Cuadrado has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Juventus finishing the league in the 4th position and being qualified for the UEFA Champions League.

Cuadrado als helped


to the conquest of the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) as well as the Italian Super Cup. Moreover, he was 2020/21 UEFA Champions League's top assist provider with 6 assists within only 6 matches.

Furthermore, the Colombian versatile player went on to continue his astonishing year on international level individually as well as performing magic in Juventus.

He was arguably Copa America best player 2021 if we do not take


, Neymar, and De Paul into account. He performed one of the most luminous individual performances of the tournament and played an important role in Colombia finishing 3rd.

He featured in 6 games for his national team, scored 1 goal and assisted 1 further goal: he assisted his team's opening goal against Brazil in a 2 – 1 loss group stage, and more importantly, he netted Colombia's first goal from a free kick in a 3–2 victory over Peru in the third-place match.

Furthermore, Cuadrado was a huge motivation for his team both on and off the pitch. He completed 2.8 dribbles per match which was the 7th best record of the competition, and averaged 3.0 key passes per game, the same as Lionel Messi and only behind Neymar with 3.5 key passes per game.

Besides, he was also successful in defending duties as well as attacking ones, where he won a total of 22 possessions throughout the tournament, 4 of which in the final 3rd of the pitch.

Cuadrado was indubitably one of the

best South American midfielders of 2021

, and Colombian and Juventus fans hope he continue his form to 2022 in which the 2022 World Cup is going to be held and Juventus is planning to recover after a bad season.

Emiliano Buendia, Argentina, Norwich City – Aston Villa

  • Full name: Emiliano Buendía Stati

  • Date of birth: 25 December 1996 (age 25)

  • Place of birth: Mar del Plata, Argentina

  • Height: 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)

  • Position(s): Winger

  • Current team: Aston Villa

The Argentinean player's breakthrough came in 2021, and we've decided to include him in our list of best South American midfielders of 2021 without any hesitation.

The 25 – year – old attacking midfielder represented Norwich City during 2020/21 English Championship, at the end of which his team won the division and secured an automatic promotion back to the Premier League.


was named the EFL Championship Player of the season upon scoring a total of 15 goals and adding a further 16 assists. Moreover, Buendia won

Norwich City

Player of the Season award and became only the 4th player from outside the United Kingdom to have won the award.

Furthermore, he was voted to be in the PFA Team of the Year as well as EFL Championship Team of the Season. He played the key role in Norwich achieving the EFL title and being promoted to the Premier League.

Buendia's outstanding performances during the 2020/21 season left Lionel Scaloni, Argentina national team's manager, no choice but to include him in the squad. Buendia was called up to Argentina senior national team for the first time in the May of 2021, despite he had been called up to Spain youth level national teams before.

On June 7th, 2021, and while he was on international duty with Albiceleste, it was announced that an agreement had been reached for Buendia to be transferred to fellow Premier League club

Aston Villa

once he had returned from international duty with his national team.

The transfer fee was said to be around €38.40m, which was both Aston Villa's most expensive signing ever as well as Norwich City's record sale.

Although he did not get a chance to play a minute for the Copa America 2021 champions Argentina during the competition, his astounding performances on club level made him competent to be listed as one of the best players in South America 2021. Argentinean fans expect to hear a lot more about Buendia in the upcoming years.

Casemiro, Brazil, Real Madrid

  • Full name: Carlos Henrique Casimiro

  • Date of birth: 23 February 1992 (age 30)

  • Place of birth: São José dos Campos, Brazil

  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)

  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

  • Current team: Real Madrid


contracted hepatitis at the age of 14 but he overcame the illness and continued to progress until he made his debut for Sao Paulo in 2010 and his good form led him to the Brazil under 20 side with whom he won the South American Championship along with Neymar and

Lucas Moura


Regarded as one of the best central defensive midfielders in the world, the 30 – year – old player was quite in form during 2021, despite the drought in winning trophies with his club and national team.

He was one of Real Madrid's best players during 2020/21 La Liga and UEFA Champions League season. Casemiro featured in 34 La Liga matches for Los Blancos during the season and managed to score 6 goals and provide 4 assists, which is an astonishing number recorded by a defensive midfielder.

Most of his goals were vital and match winning. Furthermore, the Brazilian man averaged 1.4 successful tackles per match, recorded a total of 54 clearances, and 70 interceptions.

Casemiro also sent a total of 25 key passes throughout the competition. In addition, he was a regular starter for Brazil at Copa America 2021 where he helped his national team to reach the final match on home soil.

Although they were beaten by their traditional rival, Argentina, Casemiro was one of the best midfielders of the competition and was named in the Copa America Team of the Tournament.

He scored a very late match – winning goal in the 90 + 10th minute of the group stage game against


to complete Brazil's comeback in the 2 – 1 victory.

Casemiro has proved himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world although he is not technically skillful or talented, yet intelligent, physically strong, mobile, aggressive, and tenacious.

At the age of 30, he seems to be in a perfect form and Brazilian fans rely on him significantly for the upcoming world cup in Qatar.

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source: SportMob

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