December 31, 2011 by joshilan14
This is the final blog of the Top 100 Players countdown in 2011 from 10th-11st place on our chart. After a series of 10 blogs over a period of 10 days, this blog will conclude the countdown. All I am going to say is that there is a shock exclusion from the list but I won’t say who it is as that would be telling. I thought I’d start the blog by telling you what football events will be happening in 2012. Poland and Ukraine will be co-hosting Euro 2012 in what is the biggest international event this year. Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are co-hosting the African Cup of Nations, which will take place in January and February next year to the anger of many club managers. The other big international football event will be the Olympics, which to us seems like the ‘Mickey Mouse’ tournament of international football but is taken extremely seriously by the South Americans. The Champions League final will take place at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena where Barcelona and one other side will contest. The Europa League final is taking place at the National Arena in Romania, where Channel 5 hopes to see one of the Manchester clubs in the final. Other things to look out for are Chelsea spending over £100 million pounds in the January transfer window, the combined trio of Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll and Emile Heskey getting on the score sheet regularly (maybe don’t look out for that one) and football will move further towards the East as it will become more lucrative to play in the likes of China, Qatar and Russia. Let’s get cracking with the last part of the Top 100 from 10-1.
The longest running transfer saga came to an end this summer when Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal for his beloved Barcelona for an initial fee of £29 million pounds. Having left Barcelona for Arsenal in 2003 when he was 16 years old because he thought he would have limited opportunities at the club, his return to the club was greeted with joy but few thought how would Fabregas fit into a midfield featuring Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets. This wasn’t a problem and Fabregas looks like a player who has been in that Barcelona team for years as he has got 11 goals and 10 assists in 21 matches in all competitions so far. Fabregas flourished at Arsenal under the guidane Arsene Wenger, who Fabregas acknowledges him by saying “He (Wenger) put his faith in me from day one and I am where I am thanks to him.” In his final season at Arsenal, Fabregas got 9 goals and 17 assists in 36 games in all competitions. Fabregas will be a key part of the Barcelona team for many years to come.
Despite being ruled out for the rest of the season and possibly Euro 2012 after breaking his tibia against Al Sadd, Villa’s performances this year deserve recognition. At Barcelona he has transformed into a winger to allow Lionel Messi to play down the centre and he has played there to great effect, with Vila getting 9 goals and 2 assists in 24 games in all competitions this season. His debut season at Barcelona was absolutely brilliant with the striker getting 23 goals and 9 assists in 52 matches. This year also saw David Villa eclipse Raul’s record of 44 goals scored for Spain when he got a double against the Czech Republic and he has now reached 50 goals for his country. Praise doesn’t get much higher when it is given out by Barcelona legend Johann Cruyff, who said “Villa is not only there to finish plays. Villa is synonymous with depth. It means always being ready to open passing lanes, to draw defenders and thus freeing space for others.”
8-Cristiano Ronaldo—Real Madrid—Portugal—Midfielder
I thought I’d shake things up a bit by putting Ronaldo in 8th place in the rankings. His record is second to none but his selfishness and struggles’ performing against the bigger clubs holds him back from becoming the best. In 2011, Ronaldo has scored a staggering 60 goals in 60 matches and he created 17 goals. His record in his Real Madrid career is simply beyond belief as he has got 111 goals in 112 matches for the club and this includes 12 hat tricks and he broke the La Liga record for most goals scored in a season as he got 40 goals for Mourinho’s side. This has probably been the best year on an international level for Ronaldo as the Portugal captain scored 7 goals in 9 games for his country, including two in the Euro 2012 qualifying playoff against Bosnia. Cristiano Ronaldo said that “Jose Mourinho is hungry for victories and likes to do things well” and with Ronaldo on top form, these victories might just lead to titles for Real Madrid.
If you take away the racism allegations by Patrice Evra of Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan striker has certainly made a mark on the Premier League. After being signed on the last day of the January transfer window for a fee of £22.5 million pounds from Ajax, it didn’t take Suarez to make his mark on the Premier League. In his first half a season, Suarez got 4 goals and 5 assists in the Premier League and this included a hat trick of assists against arch rivals Manchester United. In the summer, he was named as the best player of the Copa America as he got 4 goals for Uruguay in their victorious campaign. This season he has got 8 goals and 6 assists in 19 matches in all competitions amid the controversy surrounding him. He is praised by many, including his Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez, who described him as “a great forward, an elite player among forwards in the world” but many such as Marco Van Basten and Mark Lawrenson say that he is ill-disciplined.
6-David Silva—Manchester City—Spain—Midfielder
Many people account Manchester City’s rise to the top of the Premier League down to the form of one player. That player is David Silva, the Spanish playmaker who has grown on loads since his impressive debut season to become his side’s key player. With 6 goals and 14 assists in 25 games in all competitions this season, he has bettered his record of last season when he got 6 goals and 13 assists in 53 matches in all competitions. This year has also seen David Silva break into the Spain first team in a midfield consisting of Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas and Busquets; he scored 4 goals in 10 games for his country in 2011. He has garnered the praise of many people in football from former Manchester United striker Andy Cole who said Silva “is a joy to watch” to Barcelona star Andres Iniesta who claimed that Silva was “One of the best players in the World.” Few people would disagree with that statement and Silva’s meteoric rise should continue in 2012.
5-Robin Van Persie—Arsenal—Holland—Striker
In 2010 the most predictable thing to involve Robin Van Persie would be injuries. In 2011 the most predictable thing to involve Robin Van Persie is goals. This calendar year has seen Van Persie get 34 goals and 13 assists in 42 Premier League matches and he is only two goals off of Alan Shearer’s record of most goals scored in a year. In my view, Van Persie is a hybrid of his Dutch compatriots Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Dennis Bergkamp as he has an undoubted goal scoring ability combined with skill and unselfish play which fits into the Arsenal ethos. His Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger summed up the striker perfectly by saying “Robin van Persie has always scored goals but unfortunately he has always had a medical record” and that medical record has hampered Van Persie from producing the form he is now earlier on in his career. He also entered the top 10 goal scorers list for the Dutch national team after he scored 4 goals in his country’s 11-0 romp over minnows San Marino. The Arsenal captain this year has become an Arsenal great.
It is hard to separate Andres Iniesta from his centre midfield partner Xavi due to their similarity in play, performances and achievements. Unlike the best English players who go about their game with arrogance, Iniesta is a humble player who celebrated his 2010 world Cup winning goal by lifting up a shirt dedicating it to Daniel Jarque, the Espanyol captain who had sadly passed away not long before. When he first joined the Barcelona youth academy, he had to be persuaded to stay at the club after suffering from homesickness. In 1999 Pep Guardiola said to Xavi and Iniesta “You will retire me, but Iniesta will retire us both” and he also gave Iniesta a signed shirt which said “the best player I’ve ever seen.” At 27 years of age, Iniesta continues to progress as a player and he is going to be key to the future of Barcelona and his influence will help the young midfielders of Gerard Deufelou, Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas integrate into the side. His partnership in central midfield with Xavi is probably the best in football history due to their creative abilities, the way they control the game and their telepathic relationship on the pitch.
Like his central midfield partner Andres Iniesta, Xavi epitomises everything good about Barcelona. He is a player who has suffered a few knocks along the way before becoming one of the best, he is humble about his ability and he can create attacks in an instance due to his pinpoint passing. Xavi’s style of play is not one for the statistics as he is never one to finish top of a goals or assists chart but he is a player who allows the game to flow and this control of the game have seen him gain the nickname The Puppet Master. Xavi quotes his deep lying playmaker role at Barcelona as “What I do: I look for spaces. All day I’m always looking.” One of many players to come through Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, he has made 663 appearances and scored 70 goals for the club he has been at since he was an 11 year old boy. Spanish journalist Carlo Garganese said of Xavi”Quite simply the best player of all time. World class for several years now… Xavi’s passing is up there with Michel Platini, he creates countless goals with genius through balls while virtually never relinquishing possession.” He has forever changed the way central midfielders go about their game and his legacy will be treasured by fans of Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
2-Mario Gomez—Bayern Munich—Germany—Striker
Perhaps a surprise to many of you that Bayern Munich and Germany striker Mario Gomez is 2nd place in the rankings. However he has become the World’s best striker this year due to his shear goal scoring ability at Bayern. After signing for Bayern Munich for a German record transfer fee of £25-29 million pounds, Gomez struggled for form during his first season at the club as he only managed to get 14 goals in 45 games in all competitions. His second season at the club saw Gomez return to the form he showed at Stuttgart as he scored 39 goals in 45 games in all competitions for the club; this included six hat tricks and his eight strikes in Europe saw him finish as the joint second top goal scorer of the competition. This season has seen the striker continue his form from last season and he has 24 goals in 25 games and this includes four braces and two hat tricks. Former Bayern defender Willy Sagnol said “He is the only player at Bayern who is irreplaceable” while former Germany international said that “Gomez is better than Cristiano Ronaldo.” He has also become a key player for the Germany national team as he has scored 7 goals for his country in this calendar year and he was also named captain for his country’s match against Ukraine. 2011 has seen Gomez score 50 goals for Bayern Munich and he could get more goals than that in 2012.
Who could have guessed that Lionel Messi would have been ranked as the best player in the World? He is a step up in class above everyone else in the Top 100 and without a doubt he is the best player of our generation. Comparisons to Diego Maradona will always surround Messi but his skill might make him surpass Maradona in greatness in the years to come. He is one of many players to come through the La Masia academy and he has continued to improve season upon season. Last season saw Messi get 53 goals and 24 assists in 55 matches in all competitions, while this season has seen him get 29 goals and 14 assists in 26 matches so far. He was at his best in the latter stages of the Champions League when he scored one of the tournament’s best ever goals with a fantastic run and finish against Real Madrid in the semi final. In the final he scored what turned out to be the game clincher with a goal from 20 yards out. Anyone who accused Messi of not being at his best when he played for Argentina were proved wrong this year; at the Copa America, he got 3 assists and 2 man of the man match awards in 4 matches and this calendar year has seen him get 4 goals and 10 assists for his country in 13 matches. This season saw him become Barcelona’s second highest goal scorer in their history and he has now surpassed the 200 goal mark to take his record in a Barcelona shirt to an astonishing 209 goals and 87 assists in 295 matches in all competitions. Diego Maradona declared that Messi is his “successor” but it was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who summed him up best by saying “He is the best player in the world by some distance. He’s (like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make.” The best player of all time. We will have to wait and see?
Thanks to everyone who has read the Top 100 and this edition of the players ranked 10th-1st on the list. Please comment on what you think and if you think some players are being underrated or perhaps the opposite, tell me what you think.
Follow me on twitter @joshilan_at_btd.
Also, can you sign this petition to help Barnet FC stay at Underhill for the foreseeable future as they have been told by the Football League they can’t stay there next season due to Barnet Council’s pathetic stipulations and hypocrisy.