Sure if the rankings were decided based solely on who was the best in the world, the complexion of this list would vastly deter from its current form now, maybe with the exception of three or four phenomenal inclusions that would make it on to both lists. But this isn’t a list of the best in the world, instead it based on players who can contribute to the beautiful game and their team on more than just the one level; not only can they defend but they can attack. Not only can they pass the ball, but they can run with it. Not only do they possess blistering pace, but they have the stamina to keep on running way into the closing minutes of the most crucial game of the season. The greatest thing about a complete player is that they can’t be defined, you can’t put them into a pigeon hole, and because of their multifaceted makeup they are highly unpredictable and are often full of surprises.
7. David Luiz
Stepping onto the pitch, the man is enigma wrapped up in a mystery and presented to you in a Pandora box. He is capable of remarkable fetes of extraordinary pieces of magic, but encapsulated in the long range wonder strike straight into the top corner against Fulham in 2013, yet at the same time paradoxically, his lack of concentration inability to play safe that lead him to conceding a penalty in the 93rd minute against the same opponent only 2 years before. If the chuckles brother played football, they would be David Luiz. Okay sure the bushy hair Brazilian can at times be a walking circus act, but in general he does deliver the goods and is why at his old club Benifica before his move to Chelsea for £25 million, was highly regarded as the crowning jewel of the team. The reason behind this is essentially the fact that David Luiz can bring so much to the team; he can play, centre half, defensive midfield and demonstrated in 2009 when he had to play left back for the majority of the campaign in replacement for Jorge Reberio, David Luiz can also play left back. If it wasn’t for his reckless nature he would actually be a pretty good centre half, maybe one of the best. His midfield exploits have left him composed on the ball, good range of passing, even from so deep has demonstrated on many occasions that he can hit the Hollywood pass with great accuracy. Even when you put him in midfield, his defensive training means that he has great tackling technique and good positioning awareness, so he is never caught off guard by flying full backs making late runs into the box. But most importantly, the guy is just fun to watch.
One of, maybe even the only major mistake sir Alex Ferguson ever committed during his highly celebrated, lengthy tenure at the helm of Manchester United, was allowing Paul Progba dubbed the new Yaya Toure to leave in 2012 to join Juventus. At just 21 Paul already harbours an abundance of raw talent, that with every passing season he continually refines and improves upon. With it to be four consecutive Serie A titles in a roll, and with such players like; Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, just to name a few, Progba has to battle against world class talent to secure his place in the starting line-up. But with already 56 appearances for the first team in just under two years, at such a young age he is already able to consistently force his way into the formidable Juve midfield. Furthermore when you break down Progba’s football genetic makeup, and factor in that despite his large 6ft 1 lanky frame, that affords him a lot of natural power, he also holds great technical and skilful prowess that allows him once freed up by Pirlo who hangs deep, gives Paul the opportunity to venture forward and play one touch football with likes of Asamoah or thread through balls for Tevez to latch up on to. With 11 goals in 56 appearances, and all of which are of a high quality, Progba also possesses a clinical eye for goal to add to his long resume. Receiving the golden boy away in 2013 for the best player in Europe fewer than 21, goes to show that Progba has a remarkable talent and a bright future a head of him, and with previous winners award being in the ilk of the likes of Messi and Rooney, it shows that the calibre of player you need to be to win it.
5. Gareth Bale
It was 2010 and Spurs found themselves against Inter Milan in the group stages, a position they fought tooth and claw the prior season to reach. At the time Milan was blessed with probably the strongest defensive pairing in world football in Lucio and Samuel, whilst also featuring the best right back on the planet in Maicon. But queue 30 minutes of sublime individual excellence and all those titles weren’t worth the paper they were written on, thanks to a 21 year old from Cardiff going by the name of Gareth Bale, when he real name should be superman. Faster than a speeding bullet, Gareth Bale left Maicon dead in his tracks not once, but twice in a single night, a fact that certainly ended Maicon’s claim on the summit of all full backs all in one night. While Gareth Bales career from the night took on a polar opposite effect, his amazing fete launched him firmly into the stratosphere of football excellence which lead on to him being brought by Real Madrid for a earth shattering £86 million, making him the most expensive player in history. You need money to buy real quality, and when you Bale, you buy the epitome of quality. Imagine a car engine placed in a race horse with the legs of Mo Farah, only then can you even begin to describe the pace and stamina that Bale possess. Added to the mix, the boy has a wicked left foot that moonlights as a magic wand that conjures goals from impossible distances, may it be via solo runs like the one demonstrated against Barcelona to lift the Copa Del Rey for Madrid, long range efforts or even dead balls. Anywhere on the pitch plus Bale and you equal goal, goals and more goals.
4. Yaya Toure
The walking paradox of a player, at 6ft 3 Yaya Toure from a glance would predictably yield a hulking juggernaut amount of strength, but as soon the ball is shot towards him and he controls it with all the elegant poise of a Olympic gymnast, he automatically as his brain switched on to attack mode and either doing it by hiting a wonder ball over the top of the opposing defence with all the accuracy of military sniper or bring the ball under control and glides across the pitch with unbelievable pace and when combined with his powerhouse build; trying to stop him would be like trying to stop a steam train. To cut a long story short, when Yaya Toure has the ball at his feet and his bounding forward , your might as well book your holiday to Greece early because your simply never going to get the ball away from him, except when you’re picking the ball out of the net after he has smashed it into the top corner. But the thing was, his attacking brilliance came at sort of a revelation to the city supporters, they simply weren’t expecting him to be that much of a goal threat. At Barcelona Yaya Toure played unflattering yet crucial role at the heart of midfield, at a time where some where calling that Barcelona teams the great team to play football. Blessed with a whole host tremendous attacking talents in the likes of Samuel Eto and Messi, it was Yaya’s job to provide the much needed defensive balance to all the attacking flair. His power, height and stamina made him perfect for that defensive midfield role; he had good positioning sense and a keen eye for a tackle. Such was the trust they had in his defensive guile he even played at centre back during the 2009 champion’s league final against Manchester united. They won the game 2-1, but while the likes of Messi got all the plaudits, Yaya Toure had an understated yet massive role to play in the victory. With resurgence of City on the football summit, the two players most influential during that time were undoubtedly Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure. But that shouldn’t be a surprise when you factor in that Yaya can operate on at least four different positions on the pitch, both on a defensive level which demonstrated best in his time and Barcelona, and with 20 goals this season for Man City from midfield, shows he is also adept attacking.
3. Steven Gerrard
From a top seven team to a top two team, is a massive accomplishment that Brendan Rogers should rightly be receiving all the acclaim being showered on him at this moment, but it will be massive impossibility to fail to acknowledge the importance of Steve Gerrard as instrumental leader and helm of Liverpool’s renaissance in recent time. Although with this new relenting attacking arsenal that Liverpool hurls at opponents with the killer instinct of Suarez and the lightening pace of Sterling, has meant that Gerrard had to sacrifice most of his goal threat in exchange for a more pivotal role operating just in front of the back four. Whilst most players over 30 would see that as the beginning of their twilight years, Gerrard on the other hand has took to it like a duck to water and see it as more as another phase in his long Liverpool career. And that exactly part of the reason Gerrard makes the list, of course he is highly accomplished as a footballer; he is strong, quick, one of the best long range strikers in the Premier League era and he is a safe bet on the penalty spot. But for Gerrard most of his brilliance is mental, and a mental game is as strong as any physical game. Gerrard has been at Liverpool for the entirety of his career, that type of loyalty and determination and his natural leadership on the pitch, naturally draws older players to him and inspires the younger players to be more like him. Gerrard is the embodiment of what a premier league football player should be like; loyal, hard working and capable of that one piece of magic change a game.
2. Andres Iniesta
If Einstein was a footballer, his name would be Andres Iniesta. Very few footballers in the modern game can read, anticipate and thus react to every occurrence on the football pitch and make seem so easy and effortless. Sat next to his partner in crime, Bonnie to his Clyde, Sundance to his Butch Cassidy and Tuco to his Blondie in Xavi in the middle of the midfield, together the pair is formidable, all the bigger of the fete when you realize that they are both shorter than 5ft 8, but what they may lack in size and stature, they completely make up it in technical wizardry. Iniesta is blessed with Insurmountable levels of determination, silky touches, the ability to pass balls with pin point accuracy, the type of ball control that makes you believe in magic and the shooting precision of a Wild West gunslinger; something that Chelsea in 2009 could strongly can attest to. At the time when Barcelona were destroying anyone who dared to foolishly cross their path, but they are human and are susceptible to the rare occasion they would hit a dead end, but then suddenly from across the horizon Iniesta would come riding in like a sheriff and soon with his supernatural balance, unbelievable composure and unimaginable skill would soon put Barcelona back on their gallop to domination once again.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
Some may speak of Pele as being arguably the greatness footballer of all time; other will say the likes of Maradonna, Cyuff, Zidane, Platuni or Eusebo might be the greatest of all time. But when you speak of Cristiano Ronaldo there is no ‘arguably’ of ‘might be’, because Ronaldo is the irrefutable greatest footballer ever to grace the football pitch. He is to football what Michelangelo was to sculpting, Michael Jackson was to pop and Shakespeare was to plays. With already over 50 goals in just this season and a mammoth total 250 goals in the last 5 years, Cristiano Ronaldo stats resonate loud and clear like an opera singer holding a megaphone in a tunnel, but the stats don’t paint the whole picture and certainly doesn’t even begin to do it justice.
He was skinny 17 year old moving from a modest club in Sporting CP to say the least, joining what was at the time one of, if not the biggest teams in the world in Manchester United. But whilst understandably most usually crumble under the pressure, or stifle under the thick air of expectation, Ronaldo on the other hand flourished under his almost surrogate father in Sir Alex Ferguson, although it took 3-4 seasons. Cristiano Ronaldo under the mites touches of the Glaswegian, the Portuguese wunderkind slowly grow to prominence as he grew taller, bulked up and matured into a man. However as increasingly found himself playing for the first team, it wasn’t just his physical size that struck fear in the hearts of so many premier league footballers, Ronaldo now wielded a whole array of awe inspiring tricks and flicks that when combined with his tried and perfected multiple step over soon attracted international attention, particularly from one club in Spanish capital. But Ronaldo wasn’t just a show pony with a lot of fancy tricks without anything else of real substance.
As the years past Ronaldo slowly began to transcend everyone in the English game, now he was equally adept with both left and right foot, he was built like a panther that allowed him to leap effortlessly into the air at extraordinary heights, he could almost outrun the speed of light, which combined with his famous stopovers looked to defenders just like a impossible melee of feet. Oh did I forget to mention the boy can take free kicks astonishingly well, every time he places the ball on the spot and steps back to stand in his superhero pose that make you think that he could put his arms up and just levitate of the ground, instead he lunges forward and strikes the ball with such ferocity, spin and swerve that the outcome is easily guaranteed but we just enjoy watching the ball smash into the top corner every time. Ronaldo is goal threat as so many different levels, long distance, in the air or even the six-yard box, it should not be a surprise that once the first goal flew in, it felt like someone broke a tap because they never stopped gushing in. At the height of his Manchester United career, with 31 goals in the EPL and 42 goals in all competitions, he was the spearhead that lead United to a historic treble title-winning season, with the premier league title and champions league title amongst the three. So it should not come as a surprise that season later he was tempted by the bright lights of Madrid, and with a then record breaking transfer value of 80 million, he adorned the white of Real Madrid. It would give me great pleasure to say that he’s career never reached the sighs at Madrid as they did in Manchester, but the football gods are cruel, not only did Real take him away from us, but they made him a whole lot better.
As you would imagine there are so many components needed to become a complete player, it takes drive and determination to finesse all the various attribute needed and thus the title can only be reserved for a select few players and should be surprise to realize that all players on the list play for the biggest clubs in world football and command the biggest wages. Being a complete player means offering your team more than just; pace, strength, goals or free kicks, being a complete player also means giving your team your heart, soul and loyalty every time you put on the clubs shirt. Being a complete player isn’t just about what you do on the pitch, it’s also what you do of it. I didn’t mention it on the list, but all the players selected have demonstrated that ingredient again and again, may it be Steven Gerard and Iniesta undying loyalty to their clubs, Ronaldo and Yaya’s constant drive for success or even Bale insatiable love for the game. A complete player is one of the reasons that the beautiful game is such a pleasure to watch.