The Top 15 Soccer Players In Europe
Who are the Best 15 Players in Europe?
It’s a very subjective thing, picking the best players in Europe. For one, it’s impossible to measure strikers against full-backs, for example. They both contribute to the team in very different ways, and it’s not always easy to pick out key individual performances in what is a team game. For my money, strikers and goalscoring midfielders always get too much of the attention. They win the awards, and get the big transfer fees, but arguably don’t contribute any more to the collective than a defender or goalkeeper.
So how do you pick the best 15 players in Europe? Well, despite it being possible to pick 15 world class forwards, I’ve limited myself to five forwards, five midfielders (they’re the same thing if you play for Spain), four defenders and a goalkeeper. It’s kind of difficult to define some players as easily as that. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo started life as a winger and thus a midfielder. However, I think it’s fair to say that nowadays he is a forward. He’s not a no. 10 target man by any means, but he finds himself in the opposition box a lot more than his own.
The rest of the decision making process is down to a mix of how they play for their country, their club and also in the Champions League. Are they the sort of player who can make the difference in a tight game or are they only good because they are surrounded by a good team?
Anyway, for better or worse, have a look at my Top 15 Players in Europe and then come on to Twitter to tell me why you think I’m wrong (or a genius obviously). Follow me on Twitter: @chiefhairyman
15. Thiago Silva - Paris St Germain
The Brazillian defender surprised a lot of people by opting for a big money move to PSG in the summer, but their progress to the last 16 and the top of Ligue 1 has shown that Silva is still very much a force to be reckoned with
14. Yaya Toure - Manchester City
Though he was no slouch at Barcelona, Toure has been a revelation at Man City – where he has been freed to get into more advanced positions. His clubs poor CL performance this season stops him from climbing higher on the list.
13. Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid
A rock at the heart of Spain and Real’s defence for so long now, it’s surprising he is still only 26. Real are not having a happy time in La Liga this season, but how many central defenders can score ‘Panenka’ style penalties in sudden death penalty shoot out?
12. David Villa - Barcelona
Silva has been a goalscorer at every level and for every side he’s played for. When Barca signed him a few years ago, he was the hottest property in football. It’s a shame that both his club and country are famous for nearly not needing a striker at all.
11. Mesut Ozil - Real Madrid
Ozil came of age when playing for Germany in the 2010 World Cup. Since then, he has signed for Real Madrid and was a key member of their title winning side last season. Still a youngster – Ozil has the potential to be one of the true greats.
10. Phillip Lahm - Bayern Munich
It feels like Lahm has been around for ever, though he’s only 29. Anyone who’s played 95 times for Germany has to be useful. Lahm is the best defensive full-back in the world.
9. Radamel Falcao - Atletico Madrid
Falcao is undoubtedly the hottest property in football right now. The fact that he doesn’t play for a big money club means there will be lots of interested in the January or Summer transfer window. He has a phenomenal strike rate (11 goals from 12 games this season) and is able to turn it on against the big boys.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris St Germain
Winner of 9 league titles across 5 countries (probably 10 across 6 after this year), there is no doubting Ibra’s talent. There is always a question over his temperament and his teamwork, but he is probably the best No 10 in the world.
7. Daniel Alves - Barcelona
If Lahm is the best defensive full-back, then Alves is the best attacking full-back in the world. For many, he was the final piece in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona puzzle, where he has won 3 league titles and 2 Champions Leagues. He’s also had nearly 50 assists in 150 games.
6. Xavi - Barcelona
Barcelona are blessed with 2 of the best midfielders in the world, and it’s very hard to separate them. ‘The Puppet Master’ is a one-club man, committing his career to Barca. 6 League Titles, 3 Champions League Titles, and of course, a World and European Cup for Spain too.
5. Gianluigi Buffon - Juventus
The only goalkeeper to win the UEFA Player of the year award. Buffon is regarded as the best ‘keeper in the world. Buffon has won nearly everything there is to win – perhaps his Juventus side will get him the Champions League title he so richly deserves.
4. Andres Iniesta - Barcelona
Though he has less games for both Barca and Spain, I regard ‘The Illusionist’ as a slightly better player than Xavi. His ability to play nearly anywhere, his close control and his passing are all astonishing.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid
In alternate reality, CR7 is the greatest player in the world. Even here, he is a phenomenon. He started out as a tricky winger, but has gained strength, vision and accuracy to become one of the most dangerous forwards ever.
2. Andrea Pirlo - Juventus
At 33 ‘l’architetto’ is reaching the end of his career. However, it’s really only in the last few years that the world has sat up and taken notice of Pirlo’s mastery. In Euro 2012 he nearly single-handedly guided Italy to the finals. His ability to keep possession and his distribution are simply without equal. He is the best midfielder on the planet.
1. Leo Messi - Barcelona
You can’t have been expecting anyone else, can you? Messi is simply, the greatest footballer in the world. As the weeks go by, his feats for Barca get more and more amazing. He has scored 19 goals in only 13 league games this season. At the age of 25, he already has 5 La Liga titles, 3 Champions Leagues, and an Olympic gold medal. Only the World cup to go Leo!