The best sides throughout the world are based on brilliant defensive midfielders. Just ask Chelsea or Leicester, both of whom won Premier League titles with N’Golo Kante at the heart of their team.
Barcelona have Sergio Busquets, Real Madrid have Casemiro and Paris-Saint Germain have Marco Verratti. What links these three players? They dominate in the middle of the park.
With the summer transfer window in full swing, which teams need to address their gaping holes in midfield?
As of right now, the Gunners have no players in central midfield who can really take a game by the scruff of the neck by asserting themselves physically.
With Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal have diminutive players who are technically very gifted but who lack a certain grit and physical dominance to assert themselves.
A tall, combative midfielder would easily help Arsenal challenge for the Premier League next year.
Following the departure of Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea, Monaco are now light in central midfield.
There are rumours that his former teammate Fabinho could follow Bakayoko’s example, with Manchester United and Paris-Saint Germain supposedly tracking the Brazilian, and there’s no doubting Monaco have a job on their hands in defending their Ligue 1 title next season.
With Bakayoko’s sale bringing in £40m, Monaco should be able to find a decent replacement in the transfer market.
3. Manchester United
United need a lynchpin who can sit back and get the best out of Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.
Eric Dier has been mentioned as a potential target for Jose Mourinho’s side but so far Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has refused to budge, leaving United short with just over a month to go in the transfer market.
With pre-season in full swing, United need a player who can give balance to all their wonderfully creative and attacking stars.
4. Las Palmas
Las Palmas were a breath of fresh air in La Liga last season, avoiding relegation by playing remarkably brave attacking football.
However, their gung-ho approach saw them frequently opened up at the back and they ended up conceding 74 goals in La Liga last season, the fourth worst record in the entire division.
And, as if their defence wasn’t bad enough, star man Roque Mesa has left for Swansea, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their midfield needing to be plugged.
5. Inter Milan
Inter looked to be onto a winner when they signed Geoffrey Kondogbia from Monaco, with the France international producing assured and strong performances during his time in Ligue 1.
However, Serie A has not been such an easy nut to crack for the 24-year-old, with Inter remaining defensively vulnerable despite his arrival in back in 2015.
They have players like Gary Medel and Joao Mario available centrally but realistically Luciano Spalletti’s side need a premier cruncher in central midfield if they are to return to the top of Italian football.
6. Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen had a pretty terrible 2016-17 season, finishing 12th in the Bundesliga and therefore missing out on European qualification.
Midfield anchors Julian Baumgartlinger and Kevin Kampl failed to give their defence much coverage, resulting in the German club conceding 55 league goals.
Should they want to qualify for the Champions League next season, a ball-winner in their midfield could go a really long way for Heiko Herrlich’s side.