A look at 10 of the best playmakers in world soccer. A playmaker operates in midfield or advanced midfield and dictates the tempo of a match with his passing and dribbling skills.
Most of Barcelona’s attacking play is conducted by this little midfield metronome. He keeps the side ticking over with his short passes, and is the embodiment of tiki-taka, which is based on working the ball through channels and maintaining possession at all costs. A graduate of Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy, he has won multiple domestic titles and also enjoyed success in the Champions League.
The determined Dutchman has earned his position at the very top of the world game thanks to his fine close control, excellent passing and ability to score goals, as he demonstrated at the 2010 World Cup where he finished joint top scorer. Capable of speeding play up or slowing it down, Sneijder is a pedigree free-kick taker and boasts his fair share of spectacular goals for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Holland.
The one that originally got away, Barcelona re-signed Fabregas from Arsenal in August 2011 after losing him to the English club as a teenager. Fabregas was frustrated that his progress was being impeded as a youngster and moving to Arsenal enabled him to play regularly, learn the game in the tough confines of the Premier League, and ultimately return to Catalonia, which always appeared his ultimate intention. More of a goalscorer than Xavi, one of the reasons Barca pursued him so doggedly was his ability to get into the box and produce 10-15 goals a season.
Signed by Real Madrid after thriving in the Bundesliga at Schalke and Werder Bremen, the German born son of Turkish migrant workers opted to play for Germany instead of the country of his parents' birth. Growing up, Ozil was the star attraction in the ‘Monkey Cage’, a soccer pitch in Gelsenkirchen’s Bulmke district, the experience undoubtedly readying him for the rigors of the professional game. Ozil is a superb technical player, with the ability to ghost beyond defenders and score goals with his marvellous left foot. He is nicknamed ‘Nemo’ by his Real teammates for his likeness to the fish with big eyes in Finding Nemo.
5. David Silva (Spain & Manchester City)
Undoubtedly one of Roberto Mancini’s best acquisitions as Manchester City manager, Silva took a while to adapt to the Premier League after joining the club from Valencia in 2010. But now he is a regular crowd pleaser, capable of unlocking the most resolute defenses in the land with his subtle skills and penetrative dribbling ability. Like Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, Silva is further proof that size is not everything in the modern game.
6. Luka Modric (Croatia & Real Madrid)
The Croatian is one of the world's most complete midfielders, and was Real Madrid's marquee signing when they bought him from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012. And it is not difficult to see why they shelled out such a large fee. Modric can dictate the tempo of a game, pushing the ball side-to-side and producing defense splitting passes to the strikers.
The Frenchman does feature as a winger but his preferred position is advanced central midfield where he can cause havoc with his ability to take on multiple opponents before going for goal or supplying the ammunition for a teammate. Nasri grew frustrated with Arsenal’s failure to win trophies and defected to City in August 2011.
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany & Bayern Munich)
‘Schweini’ has been a regular for club and country for many years and should be entering the peak of his career. An excellent all rounder with a fierce shot, Schiweinsteiger’s skill and vision ensures he is one of the first names on the teamsheet. Branded a rebel for his off-the-field activities when he first emerged at Bayern, Schweinsteiger is an instinctive player and one of the leaders at domestic and international level.
9. Steven Gerrard (England & Liverpool)
Arguably the most explosive player on this list, Gerrard has played for Liverpool all his life and still wows the Anfield crowd with his swashbuckling runs and howitzer strikes from outside the box. An excellent exponent of the cross field pass, Gerrard rejected advances from Chelsea earlier in his career, but that holy grail of a Premier League title still eludes him.
The Brazilian’s finest years were undoubtedly spent at AC Milan where he developed into the best player in the world for a spell. Kaka combined a deft repertoire of skills with supreme upper body strength and speed as he developed into the all round player that saw him crowned World Player of the Year in 2007. Injuries and a lack of form have taken their toll, but there remain few better sites in the game than Kaka sprinting past defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot from outside the area.