With the European football season on hiatus for another month, and the rumor mill of transfers still churning hard, I thought it would be fun to revisit the always fun question: Who are the Top Five Footballers in the World? And to be honest the list is pretty easy to come up with. In what order will always be subjective, who you root for and what style of football you enjoy watching will impact your own personal rankings it should be noted. Rankings are always fun, if you have other players you would rate in your top five by all means leave them in the comments section, we’d love to hear them.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo: I’m not sure how winning the Champions League title instantly vaults Messi to the title of “Best Football Player in the World” which was discussed at length after the final. Granted his form was excellent this year, and his impact on the outcome of the CL final was far greater then his counterpart Ronaldo. Having said that, if we were to take a step back and look at the body of work of both players over the last three years, as well as technical side of each player I think Ronaldo clearly has the edge as the top player in the world. His goal scoring rate is second to none, can play any attacking position on the field including up top, is one of the top free kick takers in the world, and is devastating with both feet (not to mention his Arial ability is pretty wicked to boot). When motivated there is no one better.
#2 Lionel Messi: His emergence at Barcelona has been amazing to watch, and it’s no coincidence that it has coincided with the revival of Barca’s domination both domestically and in Europe this year. His on ball ability, searing pace, and rare vision in the open field is unrivaled in the world. Although his goal scoring wasn’t a prominent aspect of his game in the two preceding years, that changed drastically this campaign with a haul of 42 goals in all competitions. Messi’s encore (and continued growth next year) will be interesting to watch.
#3 Steven Gerrard: Things get tricky here separating Gerrard and Kaka; in fact you could swap them with little argument either way. I’ll take Gerrard over Kaka in my midfield based on the stronger offensive side of his game, and his ability to score in the seemingly clutchest of moments. Gerrard’s work rate and pure power in midfield is priceless as well, the engine he provides in the middle of the park with his passing can’t be understated. Fans of Kaka could point to Gerrard’s lack of a domestic league title or larger individual awards on his resume, which is a fair critique. I’ll argue Gerrard is more of a game changer on any given night and give him the nod here.
# 4 Kaka: There is no doubt Kaka is one of the best players of his generation. His pace, dribbling, technique, vision, and natural flair are mesmerizing to watch. The highlight of his individual career coming in 2007 when he was named FIFA’s World Player of the Year. With his recent transfer to Real Madrid, one can only imagine what performances he will be capable of producing on such a star studded squad. Kaka’s place as one of the world’s greats isn’t changing anytime soon, and the glitzy stage of Madrid is a fitting place for one of the world’s best.
#5 Fernando Torres: I would argue he is the currently the best striker in the world, and thus slides in at five. There are several other players who could easily take Torres’s place here, but his ability to score in a variety of ways and the attention he demands at all times from defenses puts him in a class all his own. His devastating pace, coupled with his unique touch and aerial prowess creates a total package. His style of play and strength on the ball is also perfectly suited for the Premier League, his impact for Liverpool was immediate, and he is also a central figure for the Spanish national team. Fresh off Barca’s recent success many will push for Xavi or Iniesta here, but for my money Fernando Torres nips them both.
Honorable Mentions: Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, David Villa, Frank Ribery, Xavi Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Zalatan Ibrahimovic, Daniele De Rossi, Samuel Eto’o