Messi, Ronaldo, Ozil, Neymar: Who is the best playmaker of the last 10 years?

  • Kobe Tong
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Lionel Messi is about more than just the goals.

Criticism rained in for the Barcelona star at the beginning of the season as weeks went by without his first goal from open play with many seeing it as evidence that he was finally on the decline.

Obviously, you only need to watch his recent performances against Athletic Bilbao and Granada to know that isn't the case, but the attacks on Messi were frankly hyperbole in the first place.

Messi's playmaking class

Besides, it's no coincidence that Messi is ranked statistically as the best player in Europe's top five leagues this season by WhoScored.com - and that was before the goals started to return.

It's further evidence that as Messi has waded deeper into his thirties that he has slowly transitioned into a playmaker, inheriting some of the burden once saddled by Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

After all, Messi made history in La Liga throughout the 2019/20 campaign, becoming the first player to surpass 20 goals and 20 assists in the competition's modern era.

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Playmaker of the decade

As a result, Messi is now widely regarded as one of the world's best playmakers alongside the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes, who are positioned in more traditionally creative areas of the pitch.

And it seems as though Messi has been given the nod over all of them, including their forebearers because a recent study has named him as football's finest playmaker of the last 10 years.

The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) has been running an annual list of the best playmakers in the world between 2011 and 2020.

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Messi crowned number one

And now, they've decided to unveil 'THE WORLD’S BEST MAN PLAYMAKER OF THE DECADE' using a points system based on where players finished in each of their annual lists since 2011.

The winner? Messi himself, who was crowned the best in the world for 2015, 2017, 2017 and 2019, while also placing second in 2011, 2014, 2018 and 2020, to collect a total of 174 points.

But who did he beat to the award? Well, you can check out the full top 20 down below to find out:

20. Isco - 25

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19. Thiago Alcantara - 33

18. Paul Pogba - 35

17. Riyad Mahrez - 38

16. Christian Eriksen - 38

15. Bastian Schweinsteiger - 40

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14. James Rodriguez - 42

13. David Silva - 52

12. Cristiano Ronaldo - 54

11. Xavi - 55

10. Yaya Toure - 60

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9. Andrea Pirlo - 63

8. Mesut Ozil - 69

7. Neymar - 71

6. Eden Hazard - 77

5. Toni Kroos - 90

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4. Kevin De Bruyne - 103

3. Luka Modric - 113

2. Andres Iniesta - 127

1. Lionel Messi - 174

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Clear victory for Messi

Holy moly. Talk about a clear margin of victory.

However, you'd have to imagine that Xavi and Iniesta would have given Messi a bigger run for his money if they'd have competed at the top level for the entire decade like their former teammate.

But as far as longevity is concerned, you can't help tipping your hat to Messi who has arguably combined the art of goalscoring and passing like nobody before him in the beautiful game.

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I think there's an argument to be had that two or three players have mastered the latter a skill more successfully since 2011, but when we're talking about the entire decade, it's much tougher to say.

So, take a bow, Lionel, because of the umpteen-million awards that have come your way over the years, this undoubtedly goes down as one of the most unique.

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