In a series of articles published leading up to Christmas, “The Guardian” asked their international footballing correspondents to vote for the best 30 players in the world. The results saw Leo Messi voted runaway winner, with Cristiano Ronaldo in second spot and Xavi and Iniesta immediately behind. In all, Barça provided 12 players in the final list of the world’s best players – more than any other club – with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Busquets, Cesc, Mascherano,Alves, Puyol, Jordi Alba, Villa and Pedro all included.
Messi- best ever?
For The Guardian writers “it is not so much a question of whether Messi is the best player in the world right now, as whether Messi might just be the best player there has ever been”, claiming: “these days, if Messi scores a brilliant goal, no one talks about it for weeks, because usually within a few days he has probably gone and scored one that is just as good. Or two. Or more”. Quoting Pep Guardiola, the panel concluded: “he can do everything: control the game, slow it down, speed it up and, above all, win it. ‘Don't write about him,’ the former Barcelona manager said. ‘Watch him’”.
Xavi and Iniesta
Third place Xavi is described as: “the model, the ideologue behind a different approach – a style that has led him to win everything for club and country”, detailing the fact that “over the past five years no player has completed so many passes: he has averaged – averaged! – more than 100 a game”. Iniesta was placed fourth on the list and the paper reckons: “there is something different about him. The touch is so smooth, so soft, almost imperceptible at times, that he can do things that other players simply cannot, from incredible dribbles to jaw-dropping assists”, going on to quote Fernado Torres’ claim that : “I've been playing with him since we were 15 and I have never, ever seen him play badly”.
Nine homegrown players
The next highest rated Barça player is Sergio Busquets (13): “ superb on the ball, tactically clever and responsible at all times”, followed by Pique(24) and Cesc(36). Of the Barça players included in the list, only three – Mascherano. Alves and Villa- are not products of the Club’s youth teams, whilst two ex- Barça players, Toure Yaya and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also figure in the top ten.