B90M’s Rating Index for Defensive Midfielders (DMRI)
Now it’s time to show the defensive players love in our updated rankings as we chronicle the best defensive midfielders in the game. Where will the likes of Sergio Busquets, N’Golo Kanté, Bruno Soriano and others fall?
As a reminder, here’s what we consider for our DMRI, which includes a few new caveats:
Goals, assists, key passes, passing, tackling, interceptions, clearances and blocks, foul ratios, defensive errors, possession loss, dribbling, aerial score, long ball accuracy and team possession are all calculated to help produce an accurate ranking that accounts for just about everything a defensive midfielder does.
You’ve seen our near misses and omissions, as well as our statistical breakdowns. It’s time to find out who the top 25 DMs of the last three seasons are. Here we go!
25Luis Gustavo Dias (Marseille)
DMRI Index rating: 58.21
Raw score: 59.09 (25th)
Tackle score: 1.40
Interception score: 4.36
Strongest category: Interceptions (2nd)
Weakest category: Key passes and pass intent
The Brazilian international and long-time Bundesliga player moved to France last summer and has proved a good pickup for the Champion League-chasing side. His game-reading abilities have always made him a stand out, though he will pick up his share of cards due to being overly aggressive at times. A quality player nonetheless.
24Milan Badelj (Fiorentina)
DMRI Index rating: 58.22
Raw score: 59.24 (24th)
Tackle score: 0.95
Interception score: 3.63
Strongest category: Key passes (5th) and interceptions (5th)
Weakest category: Tackling and ball retention.
Equally adept on both ends, the Croat has been one of Serie A’s most consistent at his position since arriving in Italy, albeit unheralded. Fiorentina have become a bit stale since their near miss of Champions League qualification in 2012/13, but with Badelj, they’ve at least continued to be a team capable of reaching Europe every season.
23Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich)
DMRI Index rating: 58.39
Raw score: 59.59 (23rd)
Tackle score: 1.60
Interception score: 2.88
Strongest category: Errors (1st), goal contributions (2nd) and key passes (4th)
Weakest category: Clearances and blocks, and pass intent
Bayern Munich literally got a gift from Hoffenheim as they got the German international for free from them. He’s added extra vision and ball protection to Bayern’s midfield and Hoffenheim, while still holding their own, look lost at times without his leadership.
22Gary Medel (Besiktas)
DMRI Index rating: 59.54
Raw score: 60.54 (21st)
Tackle score: 1.18
Interception score: 2.82
Strongest category: Ball retention (3rd), pass accuracy (5th) and pass intent
Weakest category: Goal contributions and dribbling
The feisty Chilean has been a steady addition to a Besiktas team that has been one of the most impressive teams in this season’s Champions League. He certainly looks the part of a defensive midfielder and he plays it as well, with his passing and physicality often making him tough to go up against.
21Julian Baumgartlinger (Bayer Leverkusen)
DMRI Index rating: 59.65
Raw score: 60.27 (22nd)
Tackle score: 2.41
Interception score: 2.74
Strongest category: Tackling and aerial score
Weakest category: Goal contributions and ball retention
The guy to his left may deservedly be grabbing much of the headlines for Leverkusen, but Baumgartlinger has been an important part of Leverkusen’s revival this season. The Austrian international has formed a formidable pairing with Lars Bender when needed and adds steel and veteran presence to a young team on the rise
20 Oriol Romeu (Southampton)
DMRI Index rating: 59.67
Raw score: 60.82 (19th)
Tackle score: 1.83
Interception score: 3.06
Strongest category: Passing range and dribbling
Weakest category: Goal contributions
The case of this Spaniard is one of a player who finally shows some of his potential once settling in a spot. After underwhelming spells at Chelsea and Valencia, Romeu has become virtually automatic on the Saints team sheet each week. He’s far from spectacular, but puts in a proper shift more often than not; your typical ‘bring a lunch pail and go to work’ type of player.
19Lucas Leiva (Lazio)
DMRI Index rating: 59.96
Raw score: 61.16 (16th)
Tackle score: 3.00
Interception score: 3.00
Strongest category: Tackling (1st), pass intent (2nd) and ball retention
Weakest category: Dribbling and errors
The long-time Liverpool midfielder moved to the Stadio Olimpico in the summer when it became clear he was past it at Anfield. Despite being error-prone, Leiva has always been a stern defender who gets stuck in, keeps his passing tidy and allows more technically gifted players to get loose on the counter-attack. In Italy, 30-somethings prosper, so expect him to have some impact while in Rome.
18Tiémoué Bakayoko (Chelsea)
DMRI Index rating: 60.09
Raw score: 60.94 (17th)
Tackle score: 1.31
Interception score: 2.69
Strongest category: Dribbling (1st), passing range and aerial score
Weakest category: Ball retention and goal contributions
As many plaudits as Monaco’s deadly attack warranted during their magical 2016/17 season, this man was the glue that held it all together. A do-it-all type of player with vision, the ability to trigger counters and penetrate defenses, as well as physicality, he’s been a big miss for the Ligue 1 champs. He has been hit and miss since moving to the EPL champs, but it would be foolish to write off a player who has such a high ceiling.
17Ignacio Camacho (VFL Wolfsburg)
DMRI Index rating: 60.20
Raw score: 61.26 (13th)
Tackle score: 1.92
Interception score: 3.64
Strongest category: Pass intent (1st), aerial score (1st), interceptions and tackling
Weakest category: Clearances and blocks, and ball retention
After a long and relatively successful spell with Malaga, Camacho moved to Wolfsburg last summer, though his first run overseas has been slowed due to injury. Camacho does both the dirty work and good work getting into attacking positions. A smart signing for a Wolfsburg team in flux since one of its greatest spells between 2013 and 2016.