The golden laurel summer 2011: the 50 greatest players in the world

The full list

Rank Player A C I Overall % Club Country
1 Leo Messi 20 20 710 94 Barcelona Argentina
2 Xavi 18 19 45 91 Barcelona Spain
3 Cristiano Ronaldo 19 18 45 91 Real Madrid Portugal
4 Andres Iniesta 18 16 35 82 Barcelona Spain
5 Carlos Tevez 17 18 610 82 Manchester City Argentina
6 Samuel Eto’o 17 16 n/a 82 Internazionale Cameroon
7 David Villa 18 15 45 82 Barcelona Spain
8 Alexis Sanchez 18 16 710 81 Udinese/Barcelona Chile
9 Wesley Sneijder 18 15 35 80 Internazionale Netherlands
10 Mesut Ozil 17 16 12 80 Real Madrid Germany
11 Sergio Busquets 16 17 35 80 Barcelona Spain
12 Nemanja Vidic 16 17 35 80 Manchester United Serbia
13 Angel Di Maria 18 16 610 80 Real Madrid Argentina
14 Giuseppe Rossi 16 17 35 80 Villarreal Italy
15 Pedro Rodriguez 16 16 23 79 Barcelona Spain
16 Arjen Robben 17 15 23 79 Bayern Munich Netherlands
17 Dani Alves 17 17 510 79 Barcelona Brazil
18 Wayne Rooney 17 15 2/3 78 Manchester United England
19 Gerard Pique 16 16 35 78 Barcelona Spain
20 Luka Modric 16 16 23 78 Tottenham Hotspur Croatia
21 Luis Suarez 17 14 810 78 Ajax/Liverpool Uruguay
22 Nuri Sahin 16 16 35 78 Borussia Dortmund Turkey
23 Iker Casillas 17 15 35 78 Real Madrid Spain
24 Victor Valdes 16 16 n/a 78 Barcelona Spain
25 Radamel Falcao 16 16 7/10 78 FC Porto Colombia
26 Edinson Cavani 16 16 3/5 78 Napoli Uruguay
27 Javier Hernandez 16 16 3/5 78 Manchester United Mexico
28 Mats Hummels 16 16 3/5 78 Borussia Dortmund Germany
29 David Silva 16 16 3/5 78 Manchester City Spain
30 Manuel Neuer 16 16 3/5 78 Schalke/Bayern Germany
31 Didier Drogba 17 14 n/a 77 Chelsea Ivory Coast
32 Cesc Fabregas 17 14 1/2 77 Arsenal Spain
33 Carlos Puyol 15 16 3/5 77 Barcelona Barcelona
34 Nani 16 15 3/5 76 Manchester United Portugal
35 Pepe 16 15 n/a 76 Real Madrid Portugal
36 Sergio Aguero 17 14 7/10 76 Atletico Madrid Argentina
37 Javier Pastore 17 15 6/10 76 Palermo/Paris St Germain Argentina
38 Thiago Silva 16 16 6/10 76 Milan Brazil
39 Zlatan Ibrahimovic 16 15 3/5 76 Milan Sweden
40 David Luiz 16 15 na 76 Benfica/Chelsea Brazil
41 Ricardo Carvalho 16 15 35 76 Real Madrid Portugal
42 Ashley Cole 16 15 35 76 Chelsea England
43 Robin van Persie 16 15 35 76 Arsenal Netherlands
44 Neymar 16 16 610 76 Santos Brazil
45 Yaya Toure 15 16 23 76 Manchester City Ivory Coast
46 Ganso 16 15 710 76 Santos Brazil
47 Diego Forlan 17 13 810 76 Atletico Madrid Uruguay
48 Eden Hazard 16 15 2/3 76 Lille Belgium
49 Arturo Vidal 16 15 7/10 76 Bayer Leverkusen Chile
50 Gokhan Inler 15 16 3/5 76 Udinese/Napoli Switzerland



Share your opinion


I've come across some splendid remarks here concerning your write-up, and I also concur with them plus the information you've supplied. Thank you so much.


Neymar ANd Lionel Messi And Cristiano ronaldo And Ronaldinho Are The Best !


However, it struck me that on the one hand, you know the story of the “Colony: a great PSG or get lost”-banner, and that on the other hand, you seem to ignore the hard times the parisian supporters have been facing since 2010.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Oh, his ability's actually 16.5 ... although none of the 0.5s seem to have come up in the grid. Irritating.

Iain Duncan
Iain Duncan

Where did you get the 78 for Victor Valdes? If you dont include internationals then he got 32/40 which is 80% or if he gets 0/5 for internationals then he gets 71%. In the list he gets 78


I'm sorry but the validity of this otherwise excellent and exhaustive list is obliterated by the omission of Bastian Schweinsteiger. Not even on the 'Players that missed out'. The World Cup 2010 confirmed him as the best central midfielder in the world that isn't Spanish. Granted neither him nor Bayern had storming seasons in 2010-11 but neither did many players on that list. If he was outside the top 25 it would be a bizarre anomaly. But outside the top 50? It's hard to find the words.


No Lahm? No mention of why the only player to be in the team of the tournament at the last 2 world cups missed out? Also i'd suggest Schwienstige.r


I like how the list has been compiled and after reading the comments from readers, like the intellect behind the arguments! I cannot argue with the list much either. If I be honest I had almost fallen out of love with football last year (due to not playing much of it myself and other reasons).

Just a shame Stevie G was not in that list anywhere and I really don't want to see the last of his ability... Not yet anyway.

Cant wait for the xmas edition where I hope to see a lot more changes and surprises!


An interesting read. Although I cannot fathom how Ronaldo's club form is merely an 18! The guy scored the most goals ever in a single league campaign. Moreover, he has 66 in 63 for Real. I appreciate that players are not judged only on goals but to have Ronaldo and Tevez rated the same is madness, Tevez has been great for City but not anywhere close to being as devastating as Ronaldo.


This list is a joke.

Modric ahead of Fabregas? Febregas destroyed Madrid in the bernabeau when he was about 19.

Alexis Sanchez at 8? He's only played well in a relatively poor team in a relatively poor league for a year.

I can go on.



Tevez seems way too high for me, yes he had a great season but did nothing in Europe or for Argentina, and while he was undoubtedly City's most important player, apart from Chelsea at home I can't remember a big game where Tevez was instrumental.

Similar things can be said about Eto'o, didn't really do much in Europe and didn't compete internationally, Inter were never really contenders for the Scudetto so most of his performances had little significance or importance.

Rooney had a terrible start to the season but for me his contribution to United was far more important that Tevez's to City. Without Rooney United wouldn't have won the league or reached the CL final, without Tevez City would have still won the FA Cup but possibly would have missed out on a top 4, I don't think that warrants being the 5th best player in the world.

Also why is Robben the Budesliga's highest entry, surely last season was all about Dortmund?

Great list as usual though!


Marcelo had a better season than a lot of players on that list. I think you'll find he is more important to the way Real Madrid play, than what meets the eye. He is essentially another midfielder, and without Marcelo in the team Ronaldo, and the whole team look disjointed and toothless. Apart from Barcelona, Real Madrid never failed to score or lose with him in the side.

Mario Gomez, Van der Sar, Benzema, Borja Velero, Gotze all deserved at least a mention.


What about Schweinsteiger?


@MDelaneyST Why does Pastore have 78 and is in 37th when no one until 30th has that score as well? I'm sure it's just a slip, but it's strange


Very interesting and impressive list. Difficult to argue with most of it, although I do think that #18 is perhaps a bit harsh on Rooney. Perhaps I'm showing my colours, but I thought that given the guys Rooney had behind him in central midfield, he did exceptionally well in the second half of the season as a no 10, starting many attacks, creating goals and scoring them. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that United would have won the double last season had he played in the Fa Cup semi final against City, such is the way that he orchestrates United's attacks, as we saw on Sunday. Maybe I'm using hyperbole, but I'd say that having Villa and Pedro - who, given the service they received from Alves, Xavi, Iniesta etc, faded a bit after christmas - ahead of Rooney, is harsh to say the least.


Lot of work has gone on to this and hard to disprove the rankings. We can always argue though:).

For me, DiMaria was way more effective to put RM into where they are as compared to Ozil. I would swap him with Ozil. I also think that Villa at 6 is tad higher than i would have thought of his contributions last year. He was quite good in first half (when Barca were brilliant) but suffered quite a dip in second half when fatigue caught up with him.

Completely agree that Iniesta missing in 2010 (and the long bus ride) where huge factors in Barca's exit against Inter in 2010. Iniesta is a fantastic player and he is key to Barca breaking deadlocks against parked buses.

scott oliver
scott oliver

Hard to disagree with this side, other than, perhaps, to take Tevez out and swap for Suarez. (I am a Liverpool supporter, and don't disagree with the omission of Gerrard...although, I thought he might have merited inclusion in the 'Players who missed out and why' section.)

Of course, the great intangible here is how an individual player's output is affected by his team mates. For instance, you would imagine a virtuoso such as Messi - or, at a level below that, Suarez - flourishing in almost any side. Conversely, players as brilliant as Iniesta might struggle to have the same impact if playing for, say, Blackburn Rovers, where the circulation of the ball isn't quite so impressive. (In the philosophical idiom with which I'm familiar, Iniesta's talent would fail to be actualised, and would thus remain virtual.)

Much as with contemporary debates about the notion of collective, 'swarm' intelligence, this opens the debate about individual talent out on to questions of collective talent - i.e. where the whole displays 'emergent properties' that are more than the mere aggregate of the parts' capacities, but are the result of those parts' interactions (Barcelona and early '70s Ajax provide the best examples here).