Part V in our best soccer players in the world, this time moving higher up the pitch, giving you the top 6 wingers/supporting strikers in the world, as these position have been pretty much unified in recent years through the games tactical development.
* Our previous installments – Besk GK’s, best CB’s, best Full/Wing Backs, Best Midfielders.
Number 6 – Adrian Mutu, Fiorentina & Romania
The Romanian who just turned 31 isn’t having the best of seasons in 2009-2010, playing only eight league games with La Viola (injury), scoring 2 goals. His Champions League record is a bit better with 3 goals in 4 matches. But Mutu, since moving to Fiorentina while his huge debt to Chelsea hangs above his head, has been one of the best players in the Italian league, scoring 48 goals since 2006. When you look past the models and the cocaine, he’s still a great player.
Number 5 – David Silva, Valencia & Spain
The 24 year old Silva shares his birth date with Mutu (January 8th) is on of the more versatile players in the La Liga, with his ability to play on the left wing, or as a play-maker or even a supporting striker when needed. He has fantastic dribbling and passing skills, and although the stats might not show it, he builds up a lot of Valencia’s goals and chances. It seems that with Valencia’s financial problems and the abundance of bigger clubs with their eye on Silva, it wouldn’t be wild guessing that after the 2010 World Cup David Silva won’t be playing in Valencia anymore. On the other hand, they’ve being saying that about him for the last three years.
Number 4 – Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich & France
Like Mutu, Ribery’s 2009-2010 season hasn’t been exactly a season to remember. He hasn’t played for Bayern since September, and I’m not so sure he’s keen on coming back from his injury with Van Gaal on the sidelines, although those are just rumors. Since the 2006 World Cup and his arrival in Germany a summer later, Ribery has been considered among the best in the world, whether he’s playing on either wing or behind the strikers. His ability to cut through the middle and create chances by himself and for others are pretty much unmatched in the Bundesliga and when he’s healthy, he’s the best player there. Like Silva, rumors point towards this being Ribery’s final year playing for Bayern. They also said that last year.
Number 3 – Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal & Russia
Worst thing that could happen to Arshavin this season was Van Persie getting injured and Wenger switching him to the striker position. Arshavin can play very well pretty much all over the pitch, but playing as a striker isn’t his finest quality. He had a fantastic 2009 with Arsenal after arriving in London in January, with his four goal performance at Anfield still haunting Liverpool. His winner against them this year is too, probably. When Arshavin does get the freedom to play on the left (usually) and cut inside or behind the forwards, his ability to shake defenders and his knack for surprise shots make him probably Arsenal’s most dangerous player alongside Fabregas and Van Persie.
Number 2 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona & Argentina
Probably the biggest debate in world football last season, carrying on to this year and probably more years to come – who’s better, Messi or Ronaldo? Well, last season Messi won it all, but it doesn’t mean he’s a better player. As hard as it is to choose, one must be first and the other second, and we here prefer Ronaldo as our best. Still, Messi is truly amazing – 63 goals in 122 league games, oh and let’s not forget 33 assists. He’s pretty much unstoppable one on one, and a lot of times two on one isn’t enough. The ball somehow sticks to his feet, even if he’s going forward fast. If he finally delivers for the national team in South Africa is still under question, with his form in the qualifiers being well below his Barcelona form.
Number 1- Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid & Portugal
Like Messi, Ronaldo hasn’t exactly been his usual self when playing for the national team. He didn’t score in Portugal’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, relying on his friends to reach South Africa via the playoffs. But still, he’s the world’s most expensive player for a reason. Maybe more than a reason actually. First- the numbers – 66 goals in 101 league matches for United in his final three seasons, and 7 in 9 since his arrival to Madrid. He’s not like Messi, gentle and finesse. Ronaldo has incredible technique, but he’s much more stronger, and can shoot from anywhere, really anywhere with both feet. Describing him as a winger or SS wouldn’t be right. He can play on both wings, behind the strikers or be one himself. Only problem is, when you’ve got him, it’s his team. Suddenly when he gets injured, your team won’t be the same. He’s still worth the risk. Just ask Ferguson.