The 10 Best Attacking Midfielders of All Time

Best Attacking Midfielders of All Time: Attacking midfielders play a crucial role in football history. They’re the ones who create and organize their team’s offensive plays. To be a good playmaker, you need excellent vision and clarity to make the right decisions.

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Best Attacking Midfielders of All Time

Get ready to be amazed by their skills, inspired by their vision, and astonished by their ability to control the game. It’s time for a midfield masterclass!

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Our ranking includes players from different times, starting with Raymond Kopa in the 1950s to the recently active Andrés Iniesta. In between, there are legendary players like Zidane, Maradona, and Cruyff.

10. Raymond Kopa

Raymond Kopa, our 10th pick for the “best-attacking midfielders in football history,” was a dynamic force on the field. Despite his small stature, he was a quick and daring dribbler, known for taking risks to create scoring opportunities.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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His exceptional game intelligence and accurate passing abilities were evident during his successful stints at Angers, Stade de Reims, and Real Madrid, where he won domestic titles and secured three Champions League victories.

He represented the French national team from 1952 to 1962, Kopa played a key role in the 1958 World Cup, where France finished third. He scored 18 goals in 45 matches for the national team, and also received the Ballon d’Or in 1958, solidifying his status as one of the all-time great attacking midfielders in football history.

9. Andres Iniesta

Andrés Iniesta, a standout Spanish international, is celebrated as one of the greatest attacking midfielders ever. He is Renowned for his agility and technical skills, and true brilliance lies in his intelligence and visionary playmaking.

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He added a staggering trophy haul for most of his brilliant 16-season career at FC Barcelona, including nine Spanish championships, six Spanish Cups, and four Champions League titles. With 675 games, 57 goals, and 117 assists for the club, Iniesta wrapped up his career at Emirates in Dubai. He played a crucial role in Spain’s victories at the 2008 and 2012 Euros, as well as the historic 2010 World Cup.

Iniesta’s legacy is firmly established as one of the most polished and influential figures in football history, with his remarkable skills, football intelligence, and many awards making him an enduring symbol of excellence in the sport.

8. Zico

Zico, a Brazilian football legend, is considered the greatest attacking midfielder in his country’s history, particularly for his remarkable tenure at Flamengo. He played as the playmaker, showcased excellent vision, orchestrating gameplay, and displayed versatility with both precise passing and prolific goal-scoring, averaging over one goal every two games throughout his career.

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With Flamengo, Zico secured many titles, including four Brazilian championships and the Copa Libertadores in 1981, along with an Intercontinental Cup win against Liverpool.

While his European impact may be less prominent, Zico’s significance on the Brazilian national team is undeniable. Despite not clinching major international titles, he contributed significantly, scoring 52 goals in 72 caps for Brazil between 1976 and 1988. Zico’s enduring influence places him among the best Brazilian players in the history of football.

7. Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton, a football legend for England and Manchester United, was a true playmaker renowned for creating chances and providing assists for his team. What set Charlton apart was not just his playmaking ability but also his exceptional goal-scoring abilities, known for powerful strikes and precision with small balls. His versatility places him among the best-attacking midfielders in the history of the game.

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He started his career with Manchester United in 1956, and quickly made an impact, winning the Premier League in 1957 and securing two more championships in 1965 and 1967. Despite the tragedy of the 1958 plane crash, Charlton played a pivotal role in helping Manchester United claim the Champions League trophy in 1968.

He represented England from 1958, earned 106 caps, and scored 49 goals, contributing significantly to England’s historic World Cup victory in 1966, the nation’s only title to date. He rightfully stands among the best English players in football history.

6. Michel Platini

Michel Platini, a French international footballer, stands among the greatest attacking midfielders in history. Wearing the iconic number 10, Platini showcased exceptional technical skills and agility, making him a playmaker capable of executing incredible moves. His versatility as both a passer and a goal scorer, along with his prowess in free kicks, solidify his place as one of the best in football history.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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He began his career with AS Nancy and secured the Ligue 2 championship and a Coupe de France title. His time at AS Saint-Etienne saw him win the French championship in 1981. However, it was during his stint at Juventus that he achieved his greatest success, clinching Serie A titles and the prestigious Champions League in 1985, where he finished as the tournament’s top scorer.

Platini’s brilliance extended to the French national team, reaching the 1982 World Cup semi-finals and ultimately winning the Euro in 1984, once again as the tournament’s leading goal scorer. In 72 caps, he scored an impressive 41 goals. Additionally, Platini holds the distinction of being the first and only Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or three times consecutively.

5. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho, the Brazilian football icon, is truly a legend in the sport. Known for his remarkable agility, creativity, and exceptional dribbling skills, he could effortlessly navigate past defenders with his speed and ball-handling finesse. Ronaldinho’s versatility allowed him to shine both as an attacking midfielder and on the wings.

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He started his career at Grêmio in Brazil and gained prominence before making a significant impact at Paris Saint-Germain in 2001, quickly becoming one of the best players in the history of the club. His exceptional talent led him to FC Barcelona, where he experienced the peak of his career, winning La Liga and the Champions League twice. After a stint at AC Milan, he concluded his playing days in Brazil and Mexico.

Ronaldinho’s influence extended to the Brazilian national team, with notable achievements including winning the World Cup in 2002 and the Confederations Cup in 2005 with the Seleção. With 97 caps and scoring 33 goals, Ronaldinho undeniably stands among the greatest attacking midfielders in the history of football.

4. Zinedine Zidane

Zinédine Zidane, a legendary French footballer, holds an esteemed place among the greats of Juventus and Real Madrid. Recognized as an exceptional playmaker and a worthy successor to Kopa and Platini, Zidane’s technical ability allowed him to gracefully outmaneuver defenders, despite not being particularly fast. His playing intelligence made him the strategic brain behind the offensive plays of the teams he graced.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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He started his career with AS Cannes and then joined Bordeaux, contributing to a UEFA Cup final appearance and securing the Intertoto Cup. His move to Juventus saw him win the Serie A title twice and reach the UEFA Champions League final twice. However, his crowning moment came at Real Madrid, where he scored a memorable goal in the Champions League final, etching his name in the club’s notable history.

Zidane’s impact on the French national team is legendary, highlighted by his crucial role in winning the 1998 World Cup, including a remarkable double in the final and securing the Euro two years later. In 2006, he nearly carried France to another World Cup victory, reaching the final against Italy. Zinédine Zidane is undoubtedly one of the greatest French players in football history.

3. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff, a football legend, is renowned as one of the greatest attacking midfielders in the history of the sport. As a star for Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona, he left an indelible mark by pioneering the revolutionary concept of total football. Cruyff’s exceptional attributes as a fast, technical, and intelligent playmaker solidify his status among the best in history. His influence extended beyond the playing field, earning him a place in the ranking of the best coaches of all time.

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Trained at Ajax Amsterdam, Cruyff enjoyed nine remarkable seasons, clinching numerous titles, including eight Dutch championships and an unprecedented three consecutive Champions League victories from 1971 to 1973. He later moved to FC Barcelona, where he secured the Liga title in 1974.

Cruyff represented the Netherlands, earning 48 caps and scoring 33 goals. His achievements include leading his team to the World Cup final in 1974, although they fell short to West Germany. In 1976, he guided the Netherlands to the Euro semi-finals. As the first player in history to win the Ballon d’Or three times, Johan Cruyff’s impact on football remains unparalleled.

2. Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona, considered one of the greatest football players ever, possesses extraordinary touch, agility, and technique, making him one of the finest dribblers in the history of the sport. Known for his speed, power, and exceptional talent, Maradona excelled not only as a passer but also as a prolific scorer. His technical ability and mesmerizing gestures on the field bewildered defenders worldwide.

Best Argentine Attacking Midfielders of all time
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He began with Argentinos Juniors and later Boca Juniors, where he won the Argentine championship, Maradona had a brief but impactful stint with FC Barcelona, securing the Copa del Rey. However, it was at Napoli that he truly shone, leading the club to its first Serie A title and a UEFA Cup victory in 1989.

Maradona’s legendary status extends to the Argentina national team, earning a place in the ranking of the best Argentine players. He played a crucial role in Argentina’s victory at the 1986 World Cup and guided the team to another final four years later. With 91 international matches and 34 goals, Maradona left an indelible mark on football, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest attacking midfielders of all time.

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, the unparalleled football sensation, holds the remarkable distinction of winning the Ballon d’Or eight times, solidifying his status as one of the greatest players in history. With a breathtaking ability to navigate the field, Messi’s dazzling dribbling skills often see him weaving through entire opposing defenses before finding the back of the net. Boasting over 850 goals, he stands among the best scorers in football history. His dynamic style, speed, adept passing, and goal-scoring ability make him a player capable of single-handedly altering the course of a match.

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He spent the majority of his career at FC Barcelona and achieved unparalleled success with the club, securing La Liga titles 10 times, 4 Spanish Cups, and notably, 4 Champions League triumphs. His 672 goals in 778 matches make him the all-time top scorer in both La Liga and FC Barcelona’s history. In a surprising move during the 2023 transfer window, Messi joined Inter Miami, marking the second transfer of his career.

While initially experiencing mixed results with the Argentine national team, Messi remains one of the best players in Argentina’s history. Winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, his first major international title with Argentina, Messi went on to clinch the Copa America in 2021 and the World Cup in the 2022 year, completing his trophy collection. Without a doubt, Lionel Messi stands as the greatest attacking midfielder in football history.


Who is the best-attacking midfielder in the history of football?

Diego Maradona practically defined the “number 10” attacking midfield role. His dribbling, close control, vision, and playmaking ability were phenomenal. He almost single-handedly led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title.

Who is the best midfielder in football history?

Lionel Messi is the best midfielder in football history. He could single-handedly change the course of a game.

Who is the best midfielder in the Premier League?

Kevin De Bruyne is a strong contender for the title of the current best-attacking midfielder in the Premier League.

A modern-day maestro with incredible passing range, technique, and goalscoring ability. He holds the record for most assists in a single Premier League season and has been a key player in Manchester City’s recent dominance.

What position was Maradona?

Diego Maradona primarily played as an attacking midfielder, also known as the classic number 10 position.

Which position did Zidane play?

Zinedine Zidane also played as an attacking midfielder, similar to Maradona. He was known for his elegance, vision, and technical mastery of the field.

What position does Messi play?

In the past few years, Messi’s job on the field has changed. He can move around more freely, going to different places where he thinks he can help his team score goals better.

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