Best Soccer Players of the 21st Century

The Top Ten
1 Ronaldo Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian business owner, president of La Liga club Real Valladolid, and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Popularly dubbed in Portuguese O Fenômeno ("The Phenomenon"), he is widely considered one of the greatest... read more

We are talking about a player who, before his knee injuries, was nothing other than a force of nature. He was simply too good for the game of football at that time. Everything was too easy. It was as if he found the perfect cheat code that made him quick, powerful, and incredibly skillful. Of course, that isn't possible, so we must think of him as an out-and-out football genius. Nothing less will do.

The best-ever player I've seen after Pele. Ronaldo can't be compared with any other player. He can play at any time. He is good even on the Brazilian national team. Ronaldo is better than Messi, Ronaldinho, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2 Lionel Messi Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi was born on June 24, 1987. He is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for the American club, Inter Miami CF, in the MLS. Messi is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. His birthplace is Rosario, Argentina.

It's tough to put one ahead of the other when you talk about the best footballers of all time. For me, Leo Messi is the only player from the 21st century who is in that conversation with Cruyff, Maradona, Pele, etc.

I've watched all of these players live many times. Watching them live repeatedly is where you can really tell the greats from the good ones. Messi is such a talented human being. He can do just about everything you can think of and can do it better than anyone else.

People talk about Pep, but without Messi, Barcelona would not have won a single Champions League title in the last decade. He is simply phenomenal and head and shoulders above Ronaldo, who is a fabulous striker, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a one-of-a-kind talent as well.

The only one I really had to think about on this list is Ronaldinho. For the years he was on his game for Paris, Barcelona, and Brazil, I thought we had the next Pele. I thought I was watching the person who would easily dethrone him! His ball control was and still is the best ever. Neymar is a great player but nothing next to him. However, Messi still tops him, just.

3 Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Juventus and captains the Portugal national team.

He said: "It's opinions, I respect the opinions. Maybe in your opinion, Messi is better than me, but in my mind, I am better than him. So it's simple."

"In my mind, I'm always the best. I don't care what people think, what they say. In my mind, not just this year but always, I'm always the best," he added.

He is someone who can say "I am the best" and no one can deny it. I'm running out of words to describe this lad.

For he is the god of soccer. No one can compete with this Portugal-born soccer superstar. He's amazing at scoring goals, dribbling past defenders, and mind-blowing free kicks, and more. We just have to believe that he was sent by the soccer god. He is a precious gift to the soccer universe. He's the king of soccer. Simply the best of the best.

4 Ronaldinho Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and current ambassador for Barcelona. He played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a winger. Often considered one of the best... read more

This is so true. Ronaldinho is the best player in the whole history of soccer. He is a genius, and when he plays, he has fun with it. He is the perfect example of how soccer should be looked at: as fun. You rarely see Ronaldinho angry. He always has a smile and a laughing face. This is because he does not worry about playing well or being benched. No, he plays to have fun and has his own style. He doesn't care what other people think of his style. I think he is one of the only players I've seen who demonstrates that creativity and fun experience in soccer.

5 Zinedine Zidane Zinedine Yazid Zidane, nicknamed "Zizou", (born 23 June 1972) is a is a French former professional football player who played as an attacking midfielder. He received many individual accolades as a player, including being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and winning the 1998... read more

He managed the French team during the World Cup 2006 in Germany, replacing the coach Domenech. The French team was self-managed. Not only a good and complete player, but he has also been a good selectioner and good coach. He almost won the World Cup 1998 by himself as he beat Brazil by himself for World Cup 2006. He could have been the artisan of his victory as he has been the artisan of his own defeat in the final game.

He was the genius midfielder for France and Real Madrid. Moreover, he won all the main cups for France like the World Cup, European Cup, and Champions League with Real.

6 Luka Modric Luka Modrić is a Croatian footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Croatia national team.
7 Thierry Henry Thierry Daniel Henry is a French professional football coach and former player. He is the second assistant coach of the Belgium national team.

355 club goals, 228 goals for Arsenal in 376 appearances, 406 in total. Both France's and Arsenal's record goalscorer, and that is just the stats. He could play with fierce speed and flair and ran the whole length of the pitch to score a goal at least twice.

And that goal against Manchester United in 2001, and that back-heel nutmeg goal on October 2nd, 2004, in the invincible season. Legend at Arsenal and Barcelona. There is much more to talk about. He is so underrated. At least the best Premier League striker. A football icon!

In his prime, he was unstoppable. The nightmare of every defender. He had everything: touch, speed, skill, intelligence, unselfishness, and the deadliest finishing ever brought to the game. Easily one of the best players ever.

8 Zlatan Ibrahimović Zlatan Ibrahimović (3 October 1981) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays for an Italian club AC Milan and the Sweden national team for which he is captain.

Greatest player of all time. Can score anywhere. Powerful, strong, acrobatic, physical, etc.

He is a real player, not like others.

9 Wayne Rooney Wayne Mark Rooney is an English professional footballer who plays for and captains both Manchester United and the England national team.

A living legend playing for Man United, one of the best finishers of all time.

Great strength, great finishing, great player.

He can play everywhere. He can be a goalkeeper!

10 Xavi Hernandez Xavier "Xavi" Hernández Creus is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC.

He is the most underrated midfielder in the game. I think he is better than Zidane.

The best passer in the world without a shadow of a doubt.

The Contenders
11 Roberto Carlos Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha (born 10 April 1973), commonly known as Roberto Carlos, is a Brazilian former professional footballer who now works as a football ambassador. He started his career in Brazil as a forward but spent most of his career as a left back and has been described as the "most offensive-minded... read more

A good passer. Defender and overlaps better than anyone. He is also the best set piece taker.

He is the physicist of football. The Carlos Law of Motion.

12 KaKa Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, is a retired Brazilian professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder for Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer and the Brazil national team .

Kaka is an all-time great. His vision, skill, finesse, speed, and dribbling are unparalleled in world football. We saw him at his best during the 2006-07 season when he single-handedly dragged Milan to Champions League victory. Kaka is a living legend and my all-time favorite.

Kaka is the greatest. He was in the top ten best players in the world for six years and was named best player in 2007. Better than C. Ronaldo, who just hogs the ball and does all this fancy stuff whereas Kaka could simply just pass it off.

Better than CR7 and Messi at his best. Won the Champions League almost single-handedly and every tournament as the best player at the competition except the World Cup. Dribbling, passing, shooting, speed, and accuracy, as good as it can be.

13 Andres Iniesta Andrés Iniesta Luján is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team.

Brilliant midfielder, brilliant team player.

Best vision in the world at the moment.

14 Michael Owen Michael James Owen is an English former footballer who played as a striker for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, as well as for the England national team.
15 Steven Gerrard Steven George Gerrard (born 30 May 1980) is an English professional football manager and former Liverpool player who currently manages Scottish Premiership club Rangers.

A true leader with amazing vision, ground and aerial passing. He can go forward and create plays, and bust his gut getting back to defend. Amazing free-kick and long-shot taker. His loyalty to Liverpool Football Club is also amazing for this day and age.

Seriously? Only 12th? He must be at least number 5.

Captain Fantastic. He is inspirational for both England and Liverpool.

16 David Beckham David Robert Joseph Beckham is (born 2 May 1975) is an English former professional footballer, the current president & co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City.. He played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and the England national... read more
17 Luis Suarez Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, born on January 24, 1987, is an Uruguayan professional footballer. He plays as a striker for the American club, Inter Miami CF, and the Uruguay national team.

I'm very surprised Suarez is not in the top 10. Leaving him as a person out of the equation, all I can see is one of the most gifted strikers in recent memory. No one since the days of the original Ronaldo and Henry has evoked such feelings of fear and fright in opposing defenders. He plays with his heart and is insanely gifted. His decision-making with and without the ball is extremely intelligent, and his finishing is devastating.

18 Luis Figo Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo, (born 4 November 1972) is a Portuguese retired professional footballer who played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. He won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record at the time but later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo. He... read more

Luis Figo is a master of dribbling and passing. For me, he is a real footballer.

19 Arjen Robben
20 Mesut Özil Mesut Özil is a German professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Süper Lig club Fenerbahçe. Nicknamed "The Assist King", Özil is known for his technical skills, creativity, agility, and finesse.

I love Mesut Özil because he is Muslim. He should be number 1. He is the best player ever.

Best, best, best player. I like and love him. He is the most genius person and has great command of football. He is not selfish about scoring goals. He is the best player in Germany.

21 Manuel Neuer Manuel Peter Neuer is a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team.
22 Ryan Giggs Ryan Joseph Giggs is a Welsh football coach and former player who is currently the assistant manager at Manchester United and co-owner of Salford City.
23 Franck Ribery Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry is a French professional footballer who plays for German club Bayern Munich.
24 Fernando Torres

Almost unstoppable when he hits top gear. Torres was the reason I liked Liverpool F.C. Since he plays for Chelsea now, I like Chelsea better.

Great eye for goal, can score from anywhere in his own half at the first sight of goal.

Unstoppable in his prime, could embarrass any defender.

25 Frank Lampard

He broke so many records already! One is being Chelsea's all-time top scorer as a midfielder!

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