Selecting the five best defensive midfielders in the Premier League era is a massive challenge.
Few are better-suited for the gig than our own Robbie Mustoe.
Known now as one-half of The 2 Robbies, Mustoe put together a career with more than 200 Premier League appearances in the center of the park.
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Mustoe spent the lion’s share of his career with Middlesbrough, where he scored 12 top-flight goals. He also spent time with Charlton Athletic, Oxford United, and Sheffield Wednesday.
The five men he selected all played in this century, two remain active, and each has claimed at least one Premier League title.
See the video at the top of the page to learn their identities, and head here to watch Kyle Martino detail his top five entertainers of the Premier League era.
Swansea City is replacing Claude Makelele by promoting from within its ranks.
And by ranks, we mean squad.
Longtime Swans midfielder Leon Britton has been promoted to player-assistant coach by Paul Clement, replacing new Eupen manager Makelele.
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Britton, who is close to acquiring his UEFA A license, has been with the Welsh outfit since 2003. He’s made 436 appearances as the club moved from League Two all the way up to the Premier League, with just a 26-match move to Sheffield United in the middle.
“I feel he is the perfect person for the role at this time. He is still very much in my plans as a player, but now we can tap into his knowledge as a coach too. He has a lot to give in that respect.
“He now sits in on all management meetings and on the days where he is not training, he will be part of the coaching set-up. Similarly, on a matchday, if he’s in the squad then his focus is on playing. If not, then he will be in the dugout as part of the coaching staff.”
The 35-year-old isn’t going to hurt anything from stepping into the coaches’ GroupMe chats, and has captained Swans during his four starts this season. It’s a natural, if unusual for this day and age, fit at the Liberty Stadium.
Swans have a history bringing players into the management fold in an even more dramatic fashion, hiring actual player Garry Monk to replace Michael Laudrup. Monk did not appear for Swans after the appointment.
Claude Makelele wants to continue his path as a manager, and his future plans aren’t at the Liberty Stadium.
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The 44-year-old Frenchman has left Swansea City after just 10 months as an assistant coach with the Welsh side to take a job as manager at Eupen — who currently plays in Belgium’s top flight.
Eupen sits last in the Jupiler Pro League on 10 points through the club’s first 14 matches of the 2017/18 campaign.
Makelele had previously joined Swansea after the club hired Paul Clement in January.
The former French international got into coaching directly after finishing his professional career in 2011, jumping into the managerial side with Paris Saint-Germain as an assistant.
Makelele also managed French side Bastia briefly in 2014, winning just three of his 13 matches while in charge.
N'Golo Kante has many things in common with Claude Makelele.
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For example, both are best known as tireless French midfielders who won the Premier League title (twice, in Makelele’s case) with Chelsea while also enjoying hugely successful international careers (Kante seems a surefire bet to do so over the next half-decade) with Les Bleus.
Don’t, however, go comparing Kante to Makelele, undoubtedly one of the great central/defensive midfielders of his generation (and all time), just yet. While Makelele acknowledges and respects Kante’s meteoric rise since turning professional in the third tier of French football in 2012, at age 21, he’s quick to point out his countryman’s body of work is still incomplete — quotes from Reuters:
“At the moment Kante is special and one of the best midfielders. The problem is, I played 25 years in football at this level and comparisons are being made in a bad way.”
“This season he did not play in the Champions League. Every four days there will be games. With the national team there will be games. There will be a lot of games. He needs to get that experience.
“When he is at that level, he will not run 90 minutes all the time. He will need to listen to the rhythm, the way he plays. This will be key for him. I hope this will be the situation. I hope he does better than I did in my career.”
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Indeed, Makelele was a star for Chelsea for his five seasons at Stamford Bridge (five major trophies), which followed three trophy-filled seasons at Real Madrid (two La Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League triumph), and will forever be remembered as the player who revolutionized the defensive midfield position, in which Kante thrives much in the same way today.