10 of the Best Soccer Players in the World

10 of the Best Soccer Players in the World

Every fan has an opinion about the world’s best soccer players, but nearly everyone agrees on a few players. Many of these stars play for the elite soccer teams — Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester figure prominently in this list — and a few of them are already considered legends, like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. All of them contribute to the global appeal that soccer fans call the “beautiful game.”

Lionel Messi Barcelona

 

Messi performed better at the 2014 World Cup, where he guided Argentina to the final, before losing agonizingly to Germany in extra-time.

Finishing joint third top scorer, alongside Neymar and Robin van Persie, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball for the outstanding player of the tournament, which triggered much debate given the performances of James Rodriguez, Arjen Robben and several of the Germany team. But Messi created more chances than any other player, with only Andrea Pirlo completing as many through-balls.

Messi scored just once in the 2015 Copa America but helped his side through to the final only to suffer more heartbreak in the form of a penalty shoot-out defeat to hosts Chile.

Cristiano Ronaldo playing against Ghana

 

Luis Suarez Uruguay

 

The Barcelona striker is not everyone’s cup of tea, but his ability is not up for debate. Luis Suarez is a master at weaving his way into the penalty box, deadly in one-on-one situations, and an excellent free-kick taker. His link-up play with teammates is of the highest order, and he is a fighter who will always give 100 percent for the cause. A penchant for conning referees remains his Achilles heel, but that did not stop Barcelona from paying Liverpool $128.5 million for the player in July 2014. Suarez quickly helped them to the treble.

Teams: Uruguay, F.C. Barcelona

Position: Forward

Team number: 9 (both teams)

Birthdate: Jan. 24, 1987

Neymar Brazil

 

Sergio Aguero

 

A consummate finisher, Sergio Aguero was part of Argentina’s run to the 2014 World Cup finals, where they lost to Germany. Aguero has been key in the two title wins under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, scoring that famous late winner against QPR in 2012 to seal the Premier League. Quick, with an excellent first touch and ability to bring others into play, the Argentine has few weaknesses and is arguably the best signing since Manchester City was taken over by the Abu Dhabi United group in 2008.

Teams: Argentina, Manchester City F.C.

Position: Forward

Team number: 11 (Argentina), 10 (Manchester)

Birthdate: June 2, 1988

Manuel Neuer

 

Hands down the best goalkeeper in the world, Manuel Neuer exudes confidence in everything he does. Bayern fans were not initially convinced when the club signed him from Schalke in 2011, but few doubters inhabit the Allianz Arena these days. Neuer is superb in one-on-one situations and capable of stunning reflex saves. He is also good technically and boasts excellent distribution. Neuer led his German national team to the 2014 World Cup title over Argentina.

Teams: Germany, F.C. Bayern Munich

Position: Goalkeeper

Team number: 1 (both teams)

Birthdate: March 27, 1986

Gareth Bale Wales

 

Gareth Bale, the Welsh attacker, is a supreme dribbler who boasts the pace and skill to beat multiple opponents. Bale is also a great finisher and capable of scoring consistently from long range. His performance in the 2016 UEFA Champions League title game win over Atlético Madrid is a career standout, as is his goal against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.

Teams: Wales, Real Madrid

Position: Midfield/Forward (Wales), Forward (Real Madrid)

Team number: 11 (both teams)

Birthdate: July 16, 1989

Andres Iniesta Spain

 

Soccer fans of all stripes agree that Andres Iniesta is one of the classiest midfielders in the game. The short, eye-of-the-needle passing he produces can pierce holes in even the most stubborn of rearguards. Iniesta is also very modest, never creating problems for his coaches. Iniesta scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands and helped Barcelona to two trebles in 2009 and 2015.

Teams: Spain, F.C. Barcelona

Position: Midfielder

Team number: 6 (Spain), 8 (Barcelona)

Birthdate: May 11, 1984

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United l

 

Expect the unexpected with the mercurial Swede. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is perhaps the moodiest player in world soccer, but completely unplayable when on his game. Just witness his stunning overhead kick against England in 2012. “Ibra,” as fans call him, has won league titles in Holland, Italy, Spain, and France with six different clubs and is something of a lucky charm for those willing to invest in his considerable talents. One of Sweden’s top stars, he has won that nation’s Golden Ball award for the best soccer player a record 11 times.

Teams: Sweden, Manchester United F.C.

Position: Forward

Team number: 10 (Sweden), 9 (Manchester United)

Birthdate: Oct. 3, 1981

Arjen Robben Netherlands

This winger further enhanced his glowing reputation with some impressive showings for Holland at the 2014 World Cup. Robben’s deadly combination of pace and trickery is a nightmare for defenders, while he scores more goals than the average winger. Robben has been at the top of the game for 10 years now, having had stints with Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. Injuries held him back in the 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons, but he re-signed for the 2017–18 season with Bayern Munich.

Teams: Holland, Bayern Munich

Position: Forward (Holland), Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

Team number: 10 (both teams)

Birthdate: Jan. 23, 1984

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