Barcelona: Ranking the top 10 legends to have played for the Blaugrana
Barcelona are arguably the most prestigious team in Spain, even more so than their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, thanks to their rich history in the game. They have produced and developed some excellent players over the years and created legends out of them in the process, which, in this list, we'll go through one-by-one and rank the top ten.
Some of the players included in this list will be legends who have now retired, but there are also some who are still playing football professionally that have achieved legend status at the Nou Camp.
But before we get into it, do you think you can guess which names will appear on here - and in what order? Leave a comment below with your personal top ten Barca legends if your choices differ from ours.
#10 Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman played as a sweeper for much of his time with Barcelona, which was a role that required him to carry the ball out of the defence and then pick out a pass. He was very adept at these duties because he was naturally strong in terms of his vision and composure on the ball. Sometimes defenders can be clumsy, but Koeman was smooth.
He was known for his pin-point long-range passing, free kick ability, and shooting accuracy - especially from distance. Koeman remains to this day the highest scoring defender in world football.
Koeman joined Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven for £5m back in July 1989 and made an instant impact in the side, as he could comfortably carry out roles that others would struggle with. He won a plethora of trophies with Barca, including four La Liga titles in a row from the 90/91 season to the 93/94 campaign.
Now, Koeman is the manager of the Netherlands national team, having gone there just shy of two years after he left his job at Everton in the Premier League.
Also see : Copa America Standings, Copa America Schedule
#9 Cesar Rodriguez Alvarez
From the years of 1939 to 1955, Cesar (as he was known) played for Barcelona and scored a whopping 190 goals in 287 appearances, which made him the highest goalscorer in the history of the club for many decades, until he was ultimately passed by Lionel Messi.
In the end, Cesar won five La Liga championships with Barcelona and probably would have won a lot more had military service not interfered with his initial years at the club, as it forced him to be relocated to Granada. Upon his return to the Nou Camp, Cesar scored 15 goals in 24 games to help Barcelona win the national championship, which was his first.
Cesar played for Barcelona over the course of 13 years, scoring double digits in 11 seasons and surpassing the 20-goal mark in three.
After retiring from professional football in 1960, Cesar went on to manage eight different clubs, including the likes of Barcelona, Real Betis, Zaragoza, and Mallorca. His success as a many wasn't as strong as it was when he was a player, but he was relatively good at what he did anyway.
Cesar passed away in 1995, aged 74.
#8 Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola spent the majority of his career with Barcelona and became a key component in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team by the time he was 20 years old. He was a deep-lying playmaker who operated in the 'pivot' role, in which he flourished for many years.
Guardiola had risen through Barcelona's youth academy, which he signed for when he was 13 years old and would make his debut for the senior side at 19.
Throughout his 10 year spell with the Blaugrana, Guardiola won a plethora of trophies, including six La Liga championships, seven Spanish Super Cups, and three UEFA Super Cups.
But no amount of success that he had as a player can compare to what he has achieved as a manager. He has been in charge of three clubs thus far: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. At all three, he has flourished, winning all the prestigious titles on offer with star-studded first-team squads.
#7 Ladislao Kubala
Ladislao Kubala was a centre-forward for Barcelona who scored 280 goals in 345 appearances for the club. He was born in Hungary but also held Czechoslovak and Spanish citizenship, and he ended up playing for all three countries in national games.
Kubala's best attributes were his speed, skillful dribbling, and finishing. He was also very accurate from free kicks and posed a constant threat to the opposition.
Kubala was so prolific in front of goal that his performances drew attention from people all over Spain who came to watch him at Les Corts, the club's home stadium at the time. 'Kubalamania' had gripped the capital and he became a superstar, a giant among men.
His achievements throughout this period for Barcelona were still kept alive long after he retired, and he actually won a poll for the club's 1999 centenary celebrations, which declared him as the best player to have ever played for the side.
Ronaldinho was one of the most famous footballers in the world at one point, and still to this day, he's recognized by fans of the sport as one of the greatest to have graced the game.
He seemed to flourish for every side that he played for, going from Gremio to Paris Saint-Germain, where he quickly rose to the top of their player rankings and multiplied his market value by five in the process.
The Brazilian was signed by Barcelona in 2003 and this is where he entered his prime. He scored a whopping 70 goals in 145 appearances, which is even more incredible when you remember that he was primarily a midfielder. One of the main reasons behind why he posed such a threat to the opposition was the fact that he was so skillful on the ball, defenders simply didn't know how to handle him.
He left Barcelona after five excellent years with the club to join AC Milan, where he became a legend there, too.
#5 Carles Puyol
Carles Puyol makes this list for two main reasons: (1) he was a superb centre-back who solidified Barcelona's defence in virtually every match he played for them, and (2) he only ever played for Barcelona, having progressed from their youth team into the senior side and sticking with them until he eventually retired in July 2014.
Puyol was also the captain of the side from August 2004 until he retired, and appeared in 593 matches for the club. Add to that the 20 honors he won, which include six La Liga trophies and three Champions League trophies and you start to see just how special he truly was.
He was a key component of the Barcelona team that dominated the La Liga during the noughties and despite huge offers from other top clubs across Europe, he always remained loyal to the Catalans, which made him a fan-favorite for as long as he stayed with the club. No doubt Puyol is still thought of as a great, loyal player and one who is certainly eligible for the 'legend' status.
#4 Andres Iniesta
Another player who came through La Masia, Barcelona's youth academy, is Andres Iniesta. He made his first-team debut at 18 years old in 2002 and was picked regularly for the team during the 2004/05 season, and from there, became a key first team player until his departure in 2018.
Iniesta was a pivotal player in the side that won the two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015. The Spaniard also won a staggering nine La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, which makes him the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time.
There could be no doubt about his inclusion on this list as Iniesta was one of the most influential players in the Barcelona squad throughout the noughties and much of the 2010s.
He now plays for Japanese side Vissel Kobe, who he joined on a free transfer once his contract expired with Barcelona.
Xavi was very similar to Iniesta in terms of his playstyle, and the pair had superb chemistry in the heart of the midfield for Barcelona. They became a formidable duo for much of the noughties, especially during the tiki-taka era of play.
Xavi had been inducted into the first team four years prior to Iniesta, though, making his debut against Mallorca in 1998. At the time he was just viewed as another hot young prospect from La Masia, but nobody could ever have predicted just how important he would become to the team.
By the end of his time with Barcelona, he had played in over 700 games, which is still a club record, and scored 85 goals in the process. He is also the first player in Barca's history to have featured in 150 European and Club World Cup matches.
Xavi retired from international football after the 2014 World Cup, but still plays professionally; he is currently a midfielder for Al Sadd in Qatar.
#2 Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff played for Barcelona from 1973 to 1978 and is considered to be one of the best players they ever had. He joined from Ajax in mid-1973 for around $2m, which was a world record transfer fee at that time.
Not only was Cruyff a superb player for Barcelona but he was a great manager, too, adopting and enhancing a footballing philosophy known as Total Football, which made the Netherlands so great during the 60s and 70s. He experimented with it at Barcelona and became a huge success because of it.
He won La Liga in his debut season for Barca and was named the European Footballer of the year. Throughout his time at the Nou Camp, Cruyff was by far one of the best players in the squad and showcased composure and skill to an extent that hadn't really been seen in Spanish football before.
Cruyff passed away in 2016 from Lung Cancer.
#1 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, footballers in the world, as well as the greatest to have ever graced the game. He has won a record-tying five Ballon d'Or awards - four of them were won consecutively, too. Add to that his record five European Golden Shoes and you start to see why Messi is thought of in this manner.
Messi has broken innumerable records, not just for Barcelona, but in world football. For instance, his club-record of 32 trophies, which includes nine La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies is a reflection of how much he has contributed to the side over the years.
He has been with the club his whole career, having switched to their youth academy when he was 13 years old from Newell's Old Boys in Argentina. Messi has shown no interest in leaving the club, either, and looks set to see out the rest of his days at the Nou Camp, solidifying himself as the best player to have ever played for Barcelona.