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.
Best Players In The World By Position
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!
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.
His exceptional game intelligence and precise 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.
Representing the French national team from 1952 to 1962, Kopa played a key role in the 1958 World Cup, where France finished third. Scoring 18 goals in 45 matches for the national team, he 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. Renowned for his agility and technical prowess, Iniesta’s true brilliance lies in his intelligence and visionary playmaking.
Spending the majority of his illustrious 16-season career at FC Barcelona, he accumulated a staggering trophy haul, 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. Internationally, he played a pivotal 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 accomplished and influential figures in football history, with his remarkable skills, football intelligence, and numerous accolades making him an enduring symbol of excellence in the sport.
Zico, a Brazilian football legend, is hailed as the greatest attacking midfielder in his country’s history, particularly for his remarkable tenure at Flamengo. Serving as the playmaker, he showcased excellent vision, orchestrating gameplays and displaying versatility with both precise passing and prolific goal-scoring, averaging over one goal every two games throughout his career.
With Flamengo, Zico secured numerous titles, including four Brazilian championships and the prestigious Copa Libertadores in 1981, along with an Intercontinental Cup triumph 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 prowess 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.
Starting his career with Manchester United in 1956, Charlton 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.
Representing England from 1958, Charlton 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.
Beginning his career with AS Nancy, Platini 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.
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.
Starting his career at Grêmio in Brazil, he 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. Amassing 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 prowess 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.
Starting his career with AS Cannes, Zidane 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 illustrious history.
Zidane’s impact on the French national team is legendary, highlighted by his pivotal 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 undoubtedly stands as 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.
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, hailed as one of the greatest football players ever, possesses an 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 prowess and mesmerizing gestures on the field bewildered defenders worldwide.
Beginning 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 pivotal role in Argentina’s triumph 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 prowess make him a player capable of single-handedly altering the course of a match.
Spending the majority of his illustrious career at FC Barcelona, Messi 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 following year, completing his trophy collection. Without a doubt, Lionel Messi stands among the greatest attacking midfielders in football history.