It was only Totti’s loyalty to AS Roma that prevented him from signing for Real Madrid, where he would have won several more trophies.
It’s a shame that peak didn’t last as long as some of his contemporaries. Strong and an aerial threat, he was perhaps unfortunate to follow Gabriel Batistuta with Argentina, otherwise he would have been appreciated even more.
Suggestions that Sneijder deserved the 2010 Ballon d'Or are a little dramatic, but the former Inter Milan midfielder still warrants such a high placing for that year alone.
Ronaldinho always played the game with a smile on his face. He turned down moves to Real Madrid and Chelsea in order to cement his status as a Liverpool legend. On the topic of world-class defenders, few come close to Bonucci and his spectacular 2017 saw him named in FIFA's Team of the Year despite suffering a second Champions League final loss. Treasure them. And still just 26 years old. The man between the sticks for Chelsea’s ferocious defence under Jose Mourinho. There is a lot of quality strikers right now. 27 in 42 for England.
Starting the decade with the Premier League title and Golden Boot was pretty good going, but adding the Champions League to his collection two years later was even sweeter. We reveal the greatest player of our 21st century countdown. Things have fizzled out since then, but you can't ignore 37 goals and two Champions League titles with Real Madrid as well decent spells at AS Monaco and Bayern Munich.
Some statistics, should you need them: Messi has won 10 (TEN) La Liga titles.
Kahn is the only goalkeeper in history to win the World Cup Golden Ball. That inspired performance in Munich is enough to warrant Dorgba's inclusion alone, even if he did fall off the radar with spells at Galatasaray and Montreal Impact before his retirement. The fact De Rossi didn't win a single major honour this decade is an absolute travesty, but we're talking about a midfielder who doesn't need silverware to express his quality.
Four Champions League titles.
Bayern Munich’s Best 11 Players of All-Time, Vincent Kompany announces departure, ends his Man City career on a high note.
JR, Such quality in tight spaces and an almost unrivalled ability to dribble at pace, Hazard is capable of true magic, with his best Premier League seasons propelling Chelsea to two titles, and earning . Check the above gallery to see the full list of players to make our 21st century countdown. BB, The Brazilian arguably transformed what a great full back could be, incessantly roaming forwards, forming a wing to every attack, most notably during his time at Real Madrid. We’ve been lucky to witness some phenomenal footballers during the 21st century so far. He was understated, bar those halfway line goals, and that was part of his charm, redefining what a holding role player could be, and he won it all: Champions League, La Liga, Bundesliga, European Championships and the World Cup. Marry that to four League Cup wins, two FA Cup trophies, three appearances in the PFA Team of the Year, a Premier League Player of the Year award and you have yourself a stellar 10 years. With 177 caps and 104 goals for Los Blancos, the striker dominated his way to winning La Liga twice, along with a Supercopa de España and an Intercontinental Cup. Alcacer too is a stretch seen as he barely plays for Barça. Modric rose through the ranks at Tottenham with his shimmering talent and quickly proved the naysayers wrong at Real Madrid.
When you consider Cole was the best left-back in the world at the turn of 2010, it seems harsh that the Premier League legend barely makes his way into the top 100.
You can't win a Ballon d'Or and not find yourself near the top. Cech was named his country's best player for six years on the bounce, won a final Golden Glove at Stamford Bridge and even led Arsenal to a record clean sheet total in 2015-16. Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines. But even when you put that year to the side, Ribery produced more assists than any other player in Germany for three years on the bounce and reached the Team of the Season five times. Torching all opposition with his technique, spins, and speed, Lionel Messi has recorded scored a remarkable 400 goals (most ever in La Liga) for the Catalan side, in addition to dishing out 150 assists.
Three back-to-back Champions League wins later, including one of the great European goals, and it is safe to say the boy from Cardiff has come a long way.
In fact, he penned his name on the scoresheet more than 300 times at Dortmund and Bayern.
The ‘personal records’ section of his Wikipedia page meanwhile extends to 933 words. He scored 39 goals the following year, leading the Gunners all the way to an unbeatable season. LB, Muller has popped up with important goals for Bayern Munich and Germany throughout his career.
He won Footballer of the Year for two consecutive seasons, helping lead the team to three Scudetti and four Italian Super Cups. Only the second player in history to score in two UEFA Champions League finals. When 'RVP' returned from injury in 2010, he came back as the world's best number nine and romped his way to consecutive Premier League Golden Boots and the PFA Player of the Year award.
It was left to a few stellar names to actually defend against these strikers. Our only regret about Varane is that he hasn't emerged as the legendary centre-back that his talent, as well as Mourinho's comments, suggest that he could have become. Another point, I'd like to raise is that this forum often talks about how there were better defenders in the 90's. But it is primarily for his achievements at Borussia Dortmund that he makes this list. Then, after a bizarre transfer to Anzhi Makhachkala, we got to see one final world-class season from the Cameroonian as he notched 12 goals in the Premier League with Chelsea.
39. At Lazio and then AC Milan he won everything including Serie A, the Champions League, and the World Cup, but winning Serie A defender of the year four times in a row from 2000, in an era of defensive excellence, tells you just as much about Nesta. Disagree, hardly any top quality wingers around, they are more wide forwards like Ronaldo, Bale, Robben, Messi, Neymar. I remember England had Shearer, Sheringham, Fowler, Ferdinand, Wright, Cole, Collymore, Dublin and Scholes to choose from for Euro 96. And the first player in history to win two European continental trebles. Pep Guardiola took his game to another level in the 2008/09 season, before successful stints at Inter Milan, Anzhi Makhachkala and Chelsea.
Arsenal legend says Liverpool can match Invincibles. Twice a Premier League Golden Boot winner. Is it on TV? JR, An imposing figure between the sticks, Khan was an intimidating opponent for strikers, making them freeze for just enough time to offer himself enough time to narrow the angles and wipe out danger.
He has won back-to-back league titles, an FA Cup and a raft of individual awards and only injuries have prevented him from casting his influence further.
Have something to tell us about this article? He was a man for the big occasion, as his performance for Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich showed.
Through all of Barcelona's success over the past 10 years, Mascherano has been one of their most overlooked players and always did everything in his power for the team.
Imagine scoring more Serie A goals than any other striker this decade when you were playing for a club that qualified for the Europa League at best. Goals, goals, goals. The Italian maestro experienced a renaissance in 2012, inspiring his country to a European Championship final and deserved to win the Champions League with Juventus three years later. Manchester United news: Reds missed out on Dayot Upamecano because of row over £200,000, Man United 0-0 Chelsea: Patrice Evra and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink got heated in the studio, Arsenal 0-1 Leicester: Alexandre Lacazette slammed by fans after missing sitter in PL loss, Memphis Depay reveals t-shirt message for Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk after scoring for Lyon, Arsenal vs Leicester: Jamie Vardy has ‘chat s**t, get banged’ written on his shinpads. But we've now taken on our toughest and most important retrospective of the festive period: counting down the top 100 footballers of the decade. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later?
Behind Spain's World Cup and European Championship-winning teams and the Barca side that conquered all that lay before it, there was Iniesta - the greatest midfielder of the last 10 years. BB, The man known simply as San Iker began life with Real Madrid as a nine-year old before going on to make 725 appearances for Los Blancos in a storied and success-filled career at the Bernabeu. This week, The Independent is counting down the 100 greatest players of the 21st century. BB, An unbroken streak of relentless goalscoring, spurring Manchester City to four Premier League titles, adapting his game to suit Pep Guardiola's style and resisting the challenges of a fleet of world-class temporaries, the Argentine may yet end his career as the greatest striker in English history. They say that Lionel Messi wouldn’t have scored all the goals he did if not for Xavi.
The qualities of his talents mean he is always in the centre, dictating, driving. Considered one of the greatest Spanish players for all time for his ball control and knack for goal, Raul broke into the Real Madrid first team as a 17-year-old.
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