Claude Makelele Names the Players He Learned the Most From & the Best Midfielder He Ever Saw

?Former Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele has revealed which player taught him the most, who could be his natural heir, and the best midfielder he has ever seen play.

The Frenchman had a hugely successful career at the top of European football, bringing the unglamorous, unheralded defensive midfield position some appreciation.

And in an interview with ?Marca, he has spoken of the fellow midfielders that have influenced, or been influenced by him.

Makelele first revealed that he learned the most as a player from Brazilian Mazinho while at Celta Vigo.

“He taught me how to move and what to do and gave me great tactical knowledge about managing the game and moving at speed,” he said. “There are many different ways to play. You have to like working for the team rather than for yourself. 

“An example of that is [N’Golo] Kante, he doesn’t stop running and he’s always smiling. He’s an impressive player, undoubtedly one of the best central midfielders in the world.”

Atletico Madrid v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League

It wasn’t just Mazinho that helped Makelele grow as a player. He also learned from more attacking players, Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane the most notable.

“Zidane helped me a lot,” he said. “I wasn’t ashamed to be nutmegged in training because I was watching, learning and prepared to anticipate the next time. That’s how I got along with Zidane. Learning from the best is easy and it isn’t just footballers, coaches should also learn.”

It’s at Real Madrid where Makelele sees his most likely successor to the defensive midfield throne; Brazil international Casemiro.


“Casemiro plays very well,” said the 44-year-old, now assistant manager to Paul Clement at Swansea. “Before the final of the Champions League in Milan, I was chatting with him in the dressing room. He knows the position that he played very well and makes it look easy with the quality of his work.

“He reminds me of myself. Some thought I was just running but technically, you have to know where to be and what to do. Casemiro is very smart and is always well positioned. He can score goals too which I didn’t do much [laughs].”

But the best midfielder in the eyes of Makelele is one very different to he or Casemiro. “There are some very good ones now but I’ve always been very impressed with Andres Iniesta,” he said. “He is a complete player and can do everything.”

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