Xabi Alonso 4th, Xavi 2nd… the 5 best Spanish midfielders of all time
Spain is one of the most successful and storied nations in world football. It produced some of the greatest players to grace the game in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Spanish Premier League is one of the best football competitions in the world. It is full of talented technicians who stand out for their understanding of the nuances of the game. Spain is renowned for being home to some of the most technically gifted footballers of all time.
They have produced some of the finest midfielders football has ever seen. The players on this list have been nothing short of pleasing to the eye. Spain’s midfield maestros have plied their trade all over the world. They stood out for their ability to handle the ball and orchestrate play with ease and grace.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the greatest Spanish midfielders of all time.
#5 David Silva
David Silva is one of the great names of modern times. The Spaniard is a Premier League legend who spent his best years in charge of Manchester City’s midfield. He is the archetypal number 8, whose technical abilities match his vision of the game. He could orchestrate play from midfield and score crucial goals.
Silva first came to prominence at Valencia before moving to Manchester City in 2010. City’s project, generously funded by its new Abu Dhabi owners, was about to take off and Silva helped the team win his first Premier League title in the 2011-2012 season.
The Spaniard was at the top of his game and finished the season as the leading provider, with 17 goals and 6 goals in 36 Premier League appearances that year.
Silva was part of the Spanish squad that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euros 2008 and 2012. When he left Manchester City in 2020, he had won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups.
Manchester City have erected a statue outside the Etihad in tribute to Silva, one of the greatest midfielders of modern times. He currently plays for Real Sociedad in La Liga.
#4 Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso has come through the ranks of the Real Sociedad academy. He propelled Real Sociedad to second place in La Liga (his highest ranking) as captain in the 2002-2003 season before joining Liverpool in 2004. Alonso went on to enjoy an illustrious career, winning numerous titles at Liverpool , Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
It needed a world-class midfielder to rub shoulders with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, and Alonso was more than up to the job. He was one of the most complete midfielders in modern football.
Alonso was excellent on both sides of the pitch. He was able to make wonderful hard tackles, score goals from long range and send long, pristine balls down the wings and into the final third of the field.
Alonso’s calm and poised presence helped bring out the best in players like Steven Gerrard, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Mesut Ozil, to name but a few. He was part of the Liverpool side that achieved the Champions League miracle in Istanbul in the 2004-2005 season.
He also won an FA Cup with the Merseysiders before joining Real Madrid in 2009. With Los Blancos he won a La Liga title, two Copa del Reys and a Champions League. Alonso then played for Bayern Munich and won three Bundesliga titles and a DFB Pokal with the Bavarians.
He hung up his boots in 2017. Internationally, Alonso was a vital cog in the dominant Spanish side which won two European championships in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
#3 Luis Suárez
Not to be confused with the Uruguayan international, this Luis Suarez is also a legend of FC Barcelona. Suarez was arguably the best attacking midfielder of the 1950s and 1960s and won the Ballon d’Or in 1960.
Nicknamed « the architect » for his way of controlling the debates thanks to his incredible passes, he is the only Spanish player to have won the Ballon d’Or. Suarez played a vital role in the successes of FC Barcelona in the late 1950s. At that time, he played as an attacking midfielder or as a wide midfielder.
Suarez’s exploits helped Barcelona win two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey trophies and two Inter-Cities Fair Cups. He then joined Inter Milan with their coach Helenio Herrera and played an important role in what is known as the ‘Great Inter’ era (1960-67).
Suarez’s performances were instrumental in helping the Nerazzurri win back-to-back European Cups and three Serie A titles. He also played an important role in Spain’s victory in the FIFA World Cup final . He was also instrumental in Spain’s triumph at Euro 1964.
Xavi is one of the greatest midfielders of all time. The current FC Barcelona manager is a product of the famous La Masia. He came through the Barcelona academy ranks and made his national team debut in 1998. Xavi stayed with the Catalans for another 17 years where he won almost everything he could.
He was the linchpin of the FC Barcelona midfield as they shed their baggage from the late 90s and early 2000s to become the best football team in the world. It’s hard to find a midfielder in the history of the game who understood and could manipulate space as effectively as Xavi.
He could knock down entire tusks with a flick of his shoulder. His technical abilities are second to none and his vision and imagination combined with his precise passing has made him the most sought after midfielder in the world.
Alongside Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, Xavi has dominated midfield debates at club and national level. He dictated the tempo of almost every game he played and was the heart and soul of the Spanish national team and FC Barcelona.
In fact, Xavi and Iniesta are considered the best midfield pair ever. During his illustrious career, Xavi won eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and three Copa del Reys with the Catalans. He also won back-to-back European Championships with Spain in 2008 and 2012.
Xavi was one of the best players for Spain, who also won the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
#1 Andreas Iniesta
Little midfield magician Andres Iniesta was poetry in motion on the football pitch. No matter how many opponents you threw at him, he walked away unscathed, with the ball sticking to his feet as if taped to him.
Like Xavi, Iniesta is also a La Masia product. He made his debut with FC Barcelona in 2002 and became the most decorated Spanish player of all time, with 35 major trophies.
Iniesta started as a defensive midfielder. But thanks to his technical brilliance and explosive speed, he was moved to a more forward position where he flourished. Iniesta is one of the best dribblers and passers in football history.
He played an important role in Spain’s triumph at the 2010 World Cup, even scoring the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands. Xavi and Iniesta made Spain and FC Barcelona forces to be reckoned with and they dominated world football for several years.
Iniesta won Euros 2008 and 2012 with Spain. He also won nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copa del Reys with the Catalans. The Spaniard is still playing at the age of 37. He currently plays for Japanese club Vissel Kobe and is one of the highest paid footballers in the world.