Here are the 7 best paid defensive midfielders in world football.
7. Ramires - £190,000 a Week
Beating the likes of Fernandinho, Thiago Motta and N’Golo Kante to squeak in at seventh place, Ramires is part of a dying breed of box-to-box midfielders, and he spent six years at Chelsea before heading East. The Blues received £25 million for his services, and Jiangsu Suning are paying the former Champions League winner £190,000 a week. Ramires made 70 appearances for Jiangsu in his first two seasons, but recently stated that he would like to return to Stamford Bridge before he retires.
6. Arturo Vidal - £203,000 a Week
Arturo Vidal of Bayern Muenchen warms up during a training session prior to the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final first leg match against Sevilla at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on...
Up into sixth place, and it didn’t take us long to break the £200,000 a week barrier. Arturo Vidal is a tireless, dynamic and tough-tackling midfielder, who tended to play in a box-to-box role at Juventus, but is really more of a traditional defensive midfielder at Bayern Munich. Aged 30 and capped 100 times by Chile, Vidal is renowned for his exceptional work rate. And at least he is being favourably rewarded for those effort levels, as the former Bayer Leverkusen man is earning £203,000 a week at Bayern Munich, on a deal currently set to run until June 2019.
5. Javier Mascherano - £241,000 a Week
Argentinian veteran Javier Mascherano was played predominantly as a centre-back during his time at Barcelona, and a year ago he probably wouldn’t have been eligible for this seven. Since joining Chinese outfit Hebei China Fortune in January, though, Mascherano has reverted back to his former role as a defensive midfielder, and as such, he makes this seven. A dogged, determined and defence-minded footballer, Mascherano has racked up 142 caps for Argentina, and he is still going strong. The former Liverpool and West Ham man won four La Liga titles and a couple of Champions Leagues during his time at Barcelona, but its a sign of the amount of cash swimming about in China right now that he just got a pay rise at aged 33.
4. Sergio Busquets - £256,000 a Week
Yerry Mina and Sergio Busquets of FC Barcelona look on during the La Liga match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia on May 13, 2018 in Valencia, Spain.
A very different player to the others mentioned so far in this seven, Sergio Busquets doesn’t give you quite so much energy, dynamism, and certainly not pace - but what he does give you is supreme intelligence and the pivot upon which one of the greatest teams we have ever seen play the game was built upon. Busquets has long been a vastly underrated footballer. Now aged 29, he has basically been a nailed on starter for Barcelona whenever he has been available since making his debut under Pep Guardiola a decade ago. Busquets may not always seem like the nicest bloke, but it’s easy to see why Guardiola was a big fan of his - and we are too.
3. Lassana Diarra - £279,000 a Week
Wait, what? Lassana Diarra is on £279,000 a week? That can’t be right. I assume that’s what you’re thinking, at least that’s what we thought when we first saw it, but apparently it’s true. It’s not that Diarra isn’t good enough to be on that kind of money - he’s actually a very, very good footballer - but the route that he took to PSG makes it seem more surprising. The French international joined PSG from Al Jazira of the UAE Gulf League, having previously been released by Marseille. Diarra’s problem has never been his ability - he has all the tools to be a world class defensive midfielder - but his behaviour seems to have got him in trouble in both Russia and France. He joined PSG on an 18-month deal in January, on supposedly very generous terms.
2. Axel Witsel - £303,000 a Week
Axel Witsel of Tianjin Quanjian reacts during the AFC Champions League match between Kashiwa Reysol and Tianjin Quanjian at Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium on February 20, 2018 in Kashiwa,...
Axel Witsel is the third China-based player in this seven, and the second best paid defensive midfielder in world football. An consistent, intelligent and classy footballer, who can operate in either central or defensive midfield, Witsel currently plays his club football for Tianjin Quanjian, alongside the likes of Alexandre Pato and Anthony Modeste. Witsel previously played for Standard Liege, Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg, as well as racking up 88 caps for Belgium at the age of 29.
1. Toni Kroos - £343,000 a Week
In top spot, and probably rightly so, Toni Kroos is closer to being a defensive midfielder than being an attacking midfielder these days. A wonderfully intelligent footballer and an exceptional passer of the ball, Kroos has formed a formidable midfield triad at Real Madrid, typically consisting of himself, Luka Modric and the more solely defence-minded Casemiro. Kroos was an absolute bargain for Real Madrid, costing them just £24 million when he joined from Bayern Munich in 2014. Since then, Kroos has won the World Cup, two Champions Leagues and made the FIFPro World XI three times.
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