A look at 10 of the best soccer players in the world.
Two times World Player of the Year, Messi is by some distance the best player on the planet. His ability to mesmerize defenders with a mix of skill and pace is unmatched and it appears as though the ball is glued to his feet at times. The Barcelona star is versatile enough to play anywhere across the frontline, but his country Argentina have so far failed to find a way to get the maximum out of this extraordinary talent. Already one of the best soccer players of all time.
Outscored Messi in the 2010-11 Spanish domestic season but has less influence on games than the nimble Argentine. Ronaldo, though, is stronger and taller than Messi, and his goals-to-games ratio similar. Since joining Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009, Ronaldo has been a revelation, making the world record outlay of US$131 look less outrageous with every hat-trick. His famous stepover is imitated in parks right across the world.
Barcelona’s midfield metronome dictates the tempo of a match with his phenomenal pass completion rate. He works superbly with partner-in-crime Andres Iniesta, the pair undoubtedly responsible for enhancing Messi’s game further with the steady stream of passes with which they provide in the final third. Xavi is now into his 30s, and a chronic Achilles injury notwithstanding, has the potential to continue for several years yet.
Iniesta's understanding with club-mate Xavi Hernandez borders on the telepathic at times. The short, eye of the needle passing the pair produce can pierce holes in the most stubborn of rearguards. Iniesta is also very modest, never creating problems for the coaches he works under. Scored the winner in the World Cup final against the Netherlands.
If there were question marks over Rooney's goalscoring abilities, they were well and truly answered in the 2009/10 season. Now that he has added more goals to his game, Rooney is the all-round player. Superb awareness, long-range passing, hold-up play and a never-say-die sprit combine to make a precious asset for club and country.
6. Robin van Persie (Netherlands & Arsenal)
The Dutchman enjoyed his best ever season in 2011/12, scoring 36 goals in all competitions for Arsenal. Van Persie has blossomed into one of the very best centre forwards in world soccer, his finishing unerring and his touch exquisite. A player at the peak of his powers, he will be hoping that the injuries that plagued him throughout his 20s are now a thing of the past.
For affirmation of Drogba’s striking qualities and all-round play, just ask the Arsenal defense. Season after season they are bullied into submission by this physically imposing specimen, who can head the ball, finish well with either foot, and take scorching free-kicks. The Chelsea man may be prone to histrionics, but at club and international level, there are few who can match him for presence and all-round effectiveness.
His move from Real Madrid to Inter Milan in 2009 re-ignited Sniejder's career. The Dutchman pulls the strings for club and country, his penetrating runs and passes causing no end of problems for opposition defenses. He also has a deadly free-kick, with Inter reaping the reward of this talent soon after his arrival at San Siro.
The Barcelona star has an exceptional goalscoring record for La Furia Roja. An effective dribbler, with an intuitive finish, the frontman was long linked with a move away from Valencia before joining Barca for $49 million in May 2010. Research conducted by World Soccer magazine in 2009 established him as statistically the best striker in the game. His movement sets him apart from many others, that ability to shake off defenders and eke out space. The complete striker.
The only defender in this list of best soccer players, not for a long time has there been a right-back capable of having so much influence on a game. The Inter Milan defender's forceful runs down the right provide a great avenue of attack, not only for him to cross the ball, but for his teammates who can occupy the space vacated by opposition players trying to arrest Maicon's attacking sorties. He has pace to burn and is a also a solid defender. Keeps the outstanding Barcelona right-back Dani Alves out of the Brazil team.