After my first list on “Top Footballers in the World” last year received mixed reactions, with some heated exchanges between CR7 and Messiah faithful, here’s another list of “Top 10 Footballers in 2012!”.
This world is a place of many wonders, imaginations, fantasies and ambitions. At times, it’s a rough place to set sail on unless you have passion and love for something in life and someone to turn to when you’re down. In a world where people have different passions, there are one set of fans who worship players on a football pitch. Yes, these are of a kind who belong to a religion called Football and consider their favourite footballers as Gods. These Gods give them something to smile about, feel jubilant and cherish all their lives. Most importantly, these Gods give every football fanatic a hope that not all is wrong with their lives. Here is a list of the top 10 best footballers in the world today.
Club: Paris Saint Germain
Position: Centre Back/Defensive Midfielder
Highlights: Rock solid defending
Serie A Defender of the Year – 2011
Premio Armando Picchi – 2011
Samba d’Or – 2011
Bola de Ouro – 2007
If there is one defender in the world who has reached a stature a very few can brag about, it’s Thiago Silva. He is often compared to a fortress which stands its ground and is unbreachable. Even to an extent that it demolishes the very intent of its nemesis to scrape through and grab a chance to take on the gatekeeper without even suffering a scratch. This Brazilian powerhouse, who has been instumental for both club and country, is regarded by many as the best defender in the world today. It was Thiago Silva, who with his strong tackles and incisive interceptions along with dependable clearing ability, provided the much needed armour to Milan’s arsenal which went a long way in the Rossoneri clinching the Serie A title in 2010-11. Thiago Silva is an integral part of Brazil’s first team and his contribution to his national team has not gone unnoticed. After a memorable spell with Milan, he was snapped up by the cash-rich PSG for a record 42 million Euros, which made him the second most expensive defender of all time.
Club: Real Madrid
Highlights: Fearless, intelligent goalkeeping
UEFA Team of the Year – 2009,2010, 2011
UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament – 2008, 2012
FIFA/FIFPro Best Goalkeeper in the World - 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper – 2009, 2010, 2011
FIFA World Cup Golden Glove – 2010
Iker Casillas is not a footballer. He’s a “saint”, as his fans refer to him. Given his heroics have saved his people innumerable times, which makes him arguably the best in the business of saving people, or rather goals. Casillas is one of the most revered and decorated footballers of our time. Inspite of some fearsome protectors of the goal in his time, he has been able to raise the bar and rise above every major competitor to be regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world today. Being the first team goalkeeper at Real Madrid ever since he was a teenager, his hunger to help his side walk past the finish line on top has never dropped. He has won all that has to be won in his football career and is among the elite brand of footballers who has made a permanent place in the hearts of football lovers worldwide. He has also set the record registers ringing by breaking Edvin Van Der Sar’s record of most international clean sheets, featuring in more than 100 international games and not conceding a single goal in 509 minutes in the recently concluded Euro 2012 in which he was a chief contributer in Spain’s glory, outshining his closest rivals Buffon and Neuer. He also became the only goalkeeper to win the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award 4 times as he led his club to a fifth La Liga title, his first as a captain.
Position: Centre Midfielder/Defensive Midfielder
Highlights: Crisp passer, Creative playmaker, Set piece specialist
Recent Awards: UEFA Euro 2012 Team of the Year2006 FIFA World Cup Final Man of the Match
FIFPro World 11 – 2006
At the age of 33, his voracious appetite for success resembles that of a teenager who aspires to make it big in the beautiful game. When his detractors started to write him off as a spin-off and someone who has lost his sheen, he came back with a vengeance only to make the same critics eulogize about this Italian legend by the name of Andrea Pirlo. His silent but substantial contribution in Juventus’ undefeated streak was a deafening message to the world that there is still fire burning inside the midfielder and he can use it to set the pitch ablaze with his sublime skills and breathtaking technique. He continued his devastating form in Euro 2012 and helped his side reach the final in which Italy were humbled by Spain. To be at one’s peak at this age, providing juicy passes and tempting crosses with such inexplicable ease is what defines Andrea Pirlo. “Class is permanent” is what Pirlo exemplifies and it is for this reason he makes the cut in this list.
Club: Manchester City
Position: Forward/Attacking Midfielder
Highlights: Clinical finisher, Superior agility
Etihad Player of the Year – 2011-2012
Etihad Goal of the Year – 2011-2012
Don Balon Award – 2007-2008
Tuttusport Golden Boy – 2007
It is rightly said “The Underrated can never be Undermined” and that is exactly where Sergio Aguero, the goal thumping machine, came into being. After deflating his antagonists in Spain, the Argentinian talisman set foot on English soil only to cast a shadow over the Manchester sky which didn’t take much time to pour thorns down the Devil’s spine which pricked the red half of Manchester and in the process bringing a crushing halt to Alex Ferguson’s title winning spree with Manchester United.
Hailed as the ultimate Argentinian king’s hier apparent, he has come closer to the throne not just by prising away the princess, but by making a thunderous debut with his club Manchester City and banging 23 goals in his first season in England. Aguero was never someone to be shrugged off as just another striker but to make such an impact in the most competitive league in the world is not something the weak hearted and the mediocre crowd of footballers can manage. His command over the ball is unquestionable and it’s like the ball obediantly follows the direction he sets for it and makes sure it finds the net by hook or by crook. Sergio Aguero is one of the best finishers of the game and an astute passer of the ball, which finds his man all the time. Among the most agile players in the world, it would be a sin to not include this man. “A complete forward” is what can best describe Sergio Aguero.
Club: Manchester United
Position: Forward/Attacking Midfielder
Highlights: Impressive work rate, All round player
PFA Fans’ Player of the Year – 2009-10
PFA Premier League Team of the Year – 2009-10, 2011-12
Barclays Player of the Year – 2009-10
FIFA/FIFPro World 11 – 2011
If there is one name apart from Sir Alex Ferguson which has been etched in the hearts of Manchester United fans worldwide today, it’s that of Wayne Rooney. His contibution in the team is so immense that he is sometimes referred to as the backbone of Old Trafford. This skillful, selfless contributor has been extremely influential in his club’s success in the last few years. Apart from being a prolific goal-scorer, his flawless long range passing, terrific hold-up play, pertinacious mindset and indefatigable work rate makes him an asset for Fergie’s side and a very valuable entity for England. He almost won his club the Premier League crown last season in which he scored 34 goals in 41 games in all competitions.
Highlights: Spellbinding technique, extremely consistent
UEFA Euro 2012 winner
Spanish Player of the Year – 2009
FIFA World 11 – 2009, 2010
La Liga’s Best Attacking Midfielder – 2009
FIFA World Cup All Star Team – 2010
Prince of Austurias Award – 2010
FIFA Ballon d’Or – 2nd place – 2010
Perhaps the best technically gifted player of our time, Andres Iniesta is a treat to watch with the ball in his feet. Apart from being a versatile player who performs equally well in multiple positions, his sagacious passing, amazing link-up play and laser sharp crosses make him a dynamite in midfield. He is a master at deceiving and he is, along with Xavi, the creative heartbeat of his club and country. Iniesta’s adroitness in midfield is incomparable and all his hardwork paid off when he scored the winner in Spain’s epic World Cup 2010 final win against the Netherlands. His joyride with his national side continued with Euro 2012 triumph, where he was declared as the man of the tournament. If there is one man who can carry the burden of any midfield in the world with relative ease, he has to be Andres Iniesta.
Position: Central Midfielder
Highlights: The best creative force in world football
UEFA Euro 2012 Winner
FIFA Ballon d’Or – 3rd – 2010
World Soccer Player of the Year – 2010
World’s Best Playmaker – 2009, 2010
UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match – 2009
FIFA World 11 – 2009, 2010
FIFA World Cup All Star Team – 2010
Xavi is the lynchpin of the Catalan midfield and is one of the most adored and respected footballers in the world. He has seen it all in the beautiful game and has earned a reputation of being a terrorizer among his opponents. The endless consistency with which he delivers for both club and country is almost baffling. Accurate passing, thunderous free-kicks and wondrous finishes is what we associate this Spanish luminary to. Xavi almost enjoys a telepathic understanding with team mate Andres Iniesta and once they take charge, it leaves the opposition gasping and weary. Just like Barcelona, the Spanish national side owes a lot to the great man’s contribution in uplifting their game. After leading Spain to World Cup glory, Xavi turned his attention to Euro 2012 and it’s like whatever he touches turns to gold and it came as no surprise that Spain took home the Euro cup. Thanks to Xavi’s heroic showing.
Highlights: Strong left foot, Creative striker, Close to being flawless
Premier League Golden Boot – 2011-2012
PFA Players’ Player of the Year – 2011-2012
PFA Fans’ Player of the Year – 2011-2012
PFA Premier League Team of the Year – 2011-2012
FWA Footballer of the Year – 2011-2012
ESM Team of the Year – 2011-2012
“Who needs Batman when we have Robin” is how an Arsenal loyalist would describe his club’s potent threat up front in the form of Robin Van Persie. After being on the sidelines for almost 7 years, Van Persie exploded like an atomic bomb which created ripples all around Europe and with one-injury free season, all the frustration, agony and anxiety came out in the form of some mesmerizing, heart stopping and fascinating football which made the world take notice. In a season where the Goons were on the verge of being badly crippled, it was Van Persie who chipped in at the right time to ensure his club doesn’t give in to the merciless pounding suffered at the hands of their biggest rivals and what seemed like a horrific start to the North-Londoners’ season, turned out to be just a bad dream from which they recovered in time to maintain dignity and respect.
Apart from possessing a howitzer of a left foot which he uses to drive home thunderbolts, he can link play beautifully and can be very instrumental in set-pieces. Van Persie ended up being the top scorer in the Premier League for 2011-2012 with an astounding 30 goals and became only the second player to score against 17 different opponents in a single Premier League campaign. If there is one player who comes close to the Ronaldo-Messi domination of the invincibles, Robin Van Persie is the man and at times he comes too close for comfort almost upstaging the two megastars off their perch.
Position: Forward/Attacking Midfielder
Highlights: Feast to watch, Frantic pace, Supernatural skills, Prodigious
FIFA Ballon d’Or – Winner – 2009, 2010, 2011
FIFA World Player of the Year – 2009
La Liga Player of the Year – 2009, 2010, 2011
La Liga Top Goalscorer – 2010,2012
Copa Del Rey Top Goalscorer – 2011
UEFA Champions League Top Goalscorer – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
UEFA Champions League final Man of the Match – 2011
UEFA Team of the Year – 2009, 2010
FIFPro World Player of the Year – 2009, 2010
The beautiful game looks angelic when Lionel Messi graces the pitch. While the likes of Spiderman, Superman and Batman showcase their preternatural dexterity in the virtual world, the likes of Lionel Messi discard science and logic in the actual world by exuding what no normal human being can even attempt to do. He’s any guy’s inspiration and every girl’s dream. To talk about his footballing traits would be an insult to football itself but if one starts, one can go on and on about what this once in a lifetime superstar can do. Messi’s pace is second to none, his ball control is peerless, quick feet so quick that they leave speed ashamed and finishing so crisp, it gives goosebumps to any connoisseur of good taste.
Inspite of being short, he has always stood tall for his club side Barcelona and has been the cornerstone of the catalan side’s mind-bogging success over the years. His goal scoring record being preeminent, his skills on the ball being god-like and his technique being spotless, he is regarded as the best player in the world by many. Messi netted as many as 50 times in La Liga last season, ending as the top scorer in the league followed closely by Cristiano Ronaldo. While he has stamped his authority as being the most feared striker in the modern world with his magnificent achievements with club side Barcelona with services from Xavi and Iniesta, he still has a bit to do while on international duty but with age by his side, he still has an eternity to leave his impingement on the international scene for Argentina.
Highlights: The Best Player of the World
UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament – 2012
UEFA Euro 2012 Top Scorer
FIFA World Player of the Year – 2008
Copa Del Rey Top Scorer – 2010-11
La Liga Top Scorer – 2010-11
FIFAPro World 11 – 2008-09, 2009-10
European Golden Shoe – 2010-11
FIFA Puskas Award – 2009
UEFA Team of the Year – 2009-10
ESM Team of the Year – 2006-07, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12
Pave way for the best footballer on the planet in 2012. Cristiano Ronaldo is an epitome of consistency, exuberance, charisma and excellence. Perhaps, the only “complete footballer” in the world. With eye-popping dribbling, judicious passing, towering crosses, dashing pace and striking strikes, Ronaldo continues to charm the world with his majestic skills and dignified persona. What gives him an edge over closest rivals like Messi is his ability to adapt to any condition and his influence in set-piece situations. Apart from being a proficient header of the ball, he is regarded as the best in the business of taking free kicks.
After a bewitching spell with English giants Manchester United, Ronaldo has continued to captivate his audience in Spain and has set a benchmark for others to ape. In spite of not being an out and out striker, his goal-scoring record is nothing short of incredible. After being the highest scorer in La Liga in 2010-11, he ended up being a close second to Messi last season with an impressive number of 46 goals including that memorable winner against arch rivals Barcelona and played a pivotal role in ensuring Real Madrid win the La Liga. The Portuguese hero reaffirmed his numero uno status after a scintillating outing with his national side at Euro 2012, where he became the joint top scorer. He continues to be looked at as a “One Man Army” and in spite of Messi closing the gap on the flying Galactico, he still has a way to go to outdo his Portuguese counterpart.