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Top 10 Barça players of the decade

Javier Giorgetti

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Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Collective success is important, but to reach it you need a group of warriors who leave their hearts on the court. Each player has an important weight in all the successes that the Catalan club achieved in the past decade. That’s why we bring the Top 10 of the best Barça players in the decade.


FC Barcelona is the team that has the most victories, goals and better results in the past decade. The reality is that the Catalan club dominated these last 10 years.

Beyond the good coaches that we have had, something that stands out this decade and those responsible for our success were the players. Without them the great majority of titles wouldn’t have been possible, their importance and their contributions were fundamental for the best team of the decade.

Collective success is important but we must also give credit to those players who made it possible. There were better players than others and each contributed different things to the club, but each and every one of them were key pieces in the past decade. This is why we bring the Top 10 of the best Barça players in the decade.

This ranking is based on certain rules considering how many years the team member played in the club, collective titles, individual prizes and statistics for each of the players. Let’s start with the top.

#10: Jordi Alba

We started this ranking with Jordi Alba. The Spanish player arrived in Barcelona in 2012 from Valencia and since then he has been a Azulgrana player. Jordi had already had an experience as culé. His love for the club began in La Masia a couple of years ago.

Fast, skilled and a great asset in counterattacks. Alba has been a guarantee for this team in both attack and defense. Little by little, it has developed into a more mature and smarter player, especially in the offensive aspect. Last season we were all surprised with his 17 assists, his personal record in a football year. He created one of the deadliest plays of the coaches that have passed through the club. That famous overflow by the left band to find a hole back where Messi is to finish off. Undoubtedly a play that gave us many goals.

Jordi Alba has been instrumental in this decade, when the team is absent, but when he is present it is a blessing for the Blaugrana team. Hope to have many more seasons with this player.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches310
Goals16
Assists57

#9: Dani Alves

The Brazilian flavor in FC Barcelona can never be lacking. We couldn’t do this top without considering Dani Alves.

Dani started this decade as culé. However, in 2016 he decided to change his air and continued his career in Juventus. As a Blaugrana player, Alves was a different. His gift to get the ball from behind, his exuberance at the time of occupying an entire band without help, his quality to integrate into the pass chains and his talent to, being a defense, create occasions autonomously made him an easy solution , natural and very reliable to consider him indisputable in the XI.

Not only was he a player with a pure talent, but it was also very funny to watch him play. He transmitted that Brazilian blood in the club, something that involuntarily made the team better. We saw it when he showed his support with Éric Abidal who was suffering cancer. Alves offered to donate his liver to the French player who at that time needed a donor. Such actions made the Brazilian a great guarantee in the team’s locker room. Excellent player. Better person.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches337
Goals16
Assists89

#8: Xavi Hernández

The player with the most matches played in the club. A teacher who together with Andrés Iniesta formed the best duo in the midfield of FC Barcelona. He started his career at the club but unfortunately he had to leave it in 2015, so he only played as a Catalan the first 5 years of the decade.

Xavi is in this position not because he’s worse than those above it in this ranking. But Xavi played only 5 years and in his last 2 years in the club his contributions fell significantly. Otherwise, the Spanish midfielder would be even higher.

In these last 10 years he has won prizes such as the FIFA Bronze Ball (2 times) in 2010 and 2011. He was present at the best XI of the year of FIFA in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Second place as the best player in Europe for UEFA in 2011. Xavi also won the Champions League twice and retired with a treble. He left the club in the best way.

Its individual quality is perfect for the philosophy of the club. An architect of the game. To date has cost the club to look for a replacement like him. Arthur and De Jong arrived but they are still far behind what Xavi represented in the Blaugrana team.

Few players mark an era, Xavi did it. A pity that he has never won a gold ball but doesn’t need it to be recognized as one of the best in history. Hopefully see him in a few more years back at the club. But this time, as a coach.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches293
Goals40
Assists81

#7: Sergio Busquets

Arguably one of the best players in history in his position. He innovated that position of DM with his great defensive talent but also, for his great vision of the game. Pep Guardiola left men like Yaya Touré or Seydou Keita to give Busquets a definite opportunity. All that confidence made the Spanish midfielder what he is right now.

He doesn’t have the credit of Xavi or Iniesta but the reality is that the three depended on everyone together. Xavi and Iniesta were just as important as Busquets. Many coaches enjoyed having this player, a confidant who saw everything and that the team that had it already had a giant advantage over the rival.

Difficult to explain everything Busi offers to the team. His height, ball handling, vision, positioning, but what helped Busquets were Xavi and Vilanova. The difference between success and failure is the desire to improve, Busquets didn’t fall behind and innovated. He learned to be the one to take the ball, to be the one to start the play, surprised the rivals, not only Xavi or Iniesta were the ones who did that work, but also a 1.89 meter tall warrior could do the same as them.

Little by little he has won the recognition of football, but he is the most underrated player in history. No individual prize and he didn’t participate in any best FIFA XI of the year. The true fans of this sport know that there is no one like “The Octopus”.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches514
Goals11
Assists35

#6: Neymar Jr

After a hard time for the Blaugranas, Neymar arrived to form a historic duo with Lionel Messi who later became a lethal trident alongside Luis Suárez.

The Brazilian generated many controversies when he left the club in 2017 to become the most expensive signing in history but what he did during his time at the club was worthy of positioning him in the sixth position of this ranking.

Neymar made seeing this sport very easy. His understanding with Messi and his quick adaptation to the team left us with the fact that Neymar was going to be the next figure in the Catalan club after Messi retired. Dribbles, goals, vision, his incredibly fast movement with the ball, speed changes, very fun to see him play.

In 2015 he was the top scorer in the Copa del Rey with 7 goals and top scorer of the UCL with 10 goals. He was also considered in the best team of the year of FIFA and third place in the voting for the Golden Ball.

He was a hero in the Berlin final against Juventus and hero in the Comeback against PSG scoring 2 goals in the last 3 minutes of the match and assisting Sergi Roberto in the winning goal.

Neymar was the most important Barça player behind Messi but the player’s need to be the figure of a team caused his departure from the club.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches186
Goals105
Assists77

#5: Gerard Piqué

The years pass but Gerard Piqué continues to demonstrate his high level.

Last season many fans doubted Piqué after his worst start of the season in his career, they thought it was over but little by little he regained his high level.

When he arrived at the club, he had a few minutes until an injury to Rafa Márquez, which was an opportunity for Gerard, who took the place. A player with a great attitude who learned a lot from Puyol and throughout his time at the club has matured to become a reference and mentor for young central defenders, such as Lenglet and Umtiti.

“El Presidente” was part of the best XI of the year by FIFA in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016. In 2010 he was considered the best defender in La Liga.

Piqué has a great skill in the air game, the turns with the ball, the entrances, he presses very well, his speed to defend counterattacks. It is true that Pique had some difficult years when Pep left the club, but he knew how to resurface with the arrival of Luis Enrique, he recovered all those characteristics he had lost. A legend of Spanish football.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches463
Goals44

#4: Ter Stegen

He arrived in the 2014-2015 season being a substitute for Claudio Bravo, little by little he has been winning the minutes until he became one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Ter Stegen has a vision and stretched from another planet. But what this player has in particular is not his height or his great stops but the ability he has with his feet. He knows how to move the ball, which has already allowed him to have 2 assists this season. He has cold blood and is not afraid of any rival attacker.

The German goalkeeper has the facility to sacrifice his body so that the opponent does not score a goal. He was crucial in the 2015 Champions League, without him we would probably have scored many more goals. In the following seasons, in La Liga, it was for which many games that we could have lost, we didn’t because of Ter Stegen. The German wall appears when the rest of the team doesn’t work. This goalkeeper never disappoints.

Despite having reached the club in 2014, Ter Stegen deserves this position for all those games that saved us. Games in which he was a hero. When we talk about prizes or rankings, attackers or midfielders usually come to mind. We always forget the goalkeeper, this time it’s different, he has shown that he is one of the best in the team. Even if he’s a goalkeeper. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a few years as Captain in the Blaugrana team.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches211
Undefeated goal89

#3: Luis Suárez

The Uruguayan fury arrived at Camp Nou to form a lethal trident with Messi and Neymar. Years go by and Luis Suarez continues to score goals and attend week after week.

When he arrived in 2014, he couldn’t debut until months later because of a penalty. It was no problem for Suarez. Despite starting his career at FC Barcelona late, his ability to adapt was incredibly fast. He continues to show that he has been one of the best signings in the history of the club.

An impressive fact was in 2016 when at the time of the rivalry history Messi / Ronaldo and playing in a club where the main offensive weapon was Messi, it was the Uruguayan who surprised everyone to win the golden boot scoring the odd amount of 40 goals in La Liga.

He was the top reference in the 2015 Club World Cup, being the top scorer with 5 goals and winning the tournament’s gold ball. The Uruguayan was also crucial in all the games against Real Madrid always doing great performances.

As if that were not enough, El Pistolero in just 5 years in the club has managed to be the fourth historical top scorer of the Catalan club with a total of 190 goals. You can still beat the number 3 place that occupies Kubala with 194 goals and the number 2 place of César Rodríguez with 232 goals.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches268
Goals190
Assists95

#2: Andrés Iniesta

In position number 2 we have Andrés Iniesta. A player who didn’t have the best physique or the best height but was a wizard with the ball. Filtered passes, dribbles, connections with Xavi, I had everything.

In 2012 Iniesta won the UEFA prize for best player in Europe, beating Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He was second in the Golden Ball in 2010 and third in 2012. The magician participated in the best XI of the year of FIFA from 2010 to 2017. Andrés won the best midfielder in La Liga in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 .

Unfortunately Iniesta left the club in 2018 to play Vissel Kobe, a Japanese first division team.

The iconic number “8” of Barcelona was able to lift La Liga for the last time in 2018, despite not having won the Champions League as his teammate Xavi when he left the club, Iniesta’s farewell moved the entire world. Fans of all teams recognized his greatness.

Iniesta spent a lifetime in the club. He is not physically present but sentimentally in all the Catalans. A different player who in this decade was very important to win many of the titles as he was in the 2015 Champions League. Iniesta assisted Rakitic’s goal in the final and was named player of the match. Iniesta marked an era of glory and we will always remember this historic player.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches405
Goals31
Assists92

#1: Lionel Messi

There is no doubt here. We reach the end of this ranking with Lionel Messi. He was not only the best player of the Barça decade but also the best player of the world football decade.

Messi was the reason that this team was the best of the decade. There are no words to describe his greatness and how brilliant his decade was.

The GOAT surpassed Gerd Muller’s record for top scorer in a year. Messi ended up scoring 91 goals in 2012 to overcome an almost impossible record.

Messi won the Golden Ball in the years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019. He acquired the Golden Boot in the years: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019. He won the Best award in 2019.

The Rosario’s guy scored many important goals to win each and every one of the trophies that FC Barcelona won in the decade. Without his goals or assists, statistically speaking, Barça were closer to the decline than the leadership in La Liga, we wouldn’t have passed the group stage in UCL and would have been eliminated prematurely from the Copa Del Rey year after year.

Messi knows how to surprise us every single season. He dominated all the individual prizes to the point of not winning many of them for being the best. A victim of his own success. The Argentinian is a player who appears once every 50 years, maybe we will never have someone of his caliber, someone from another planet.

“This Barca will be remembered as Messi’s Barca. He’s well above anything else I’ve ever seen. He’s an alien.”

– Carles Puyol

Not only is he the best player of this decade, he is the best player in football history. No one or nothing is comparable to the genius of this genius. We could put all the records and feats he has achieved but it would never end.

Lionel is ready for another decade of great achievements. Now as captain, sure he’ll raise many trophies and will be, as he always has been, an example to follow in this sport.

Statistics in the past decade (just in FC Barcelona):

Matches521
Goals522
Assists219

This is the end of the top 10 best Barça players in this decade. A lot of talent in these players who gave us many titles in the past 10 years. Would also like to mention other players who had great importance in the team but were not mentioned in the ranking. Those are: Mascherano, Pedro, Valvdés, Puyol, Sergi Roberto and Iván Rakitic. Hopefully see more brilliant players in the coming years.

The love I feel for this club is as great as the desire to share my admiration for it. Being a fan of Barcelona since when I was 8 years old and growing up watching games week after week. It makes no sense to feel so much love for this club. Being able to transmit all that love with more lovers of this sport is priceless.

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Ricardo Zamora: The greatest between the posts

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Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

Guest Author: Amal Ghosh

Ricardo Zamora has a rollercoaster of a footballing career, flooded with controversies. Despite that, he is said to be arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time.


“He is alone, condemned to watch the match from afar. Never leaving the goal, his only company the two posts and the crossbar, he awaits his own execution by firing squad.” Eduardo Galeano perhaps wrote the most melancholic description of a goalkeeper’s life of solitude.

The memoir of a goalkeeper lies between the thin line of glorious feats and eternal damnation. There were not many of them in the yesteryears of world football that we still reminisce. In fact, many of those who survived the rushing cavalries of the opposition attack were shot, shun, or shaded by that one slip or misplaced dive.

At the beginning of the 1900s, when the game was a far cry from the sophisticated version of the present day, the football pitch was a grant arena to celebrate the sparring between the defence and offence. Stars and idols were born and illustrated for the knack to score goals or the flamboyant display on the pitch.

In 1916, a skinny sixteen years old from Barcelona, who had a fortuitous debut for Espanyol against Real Madrid, went on to become the first superstar in the history of Spanish football. Moreover, the first goalkeeper to make a name for his style and to become an inspiration for the generations to come. Ricardo Zamora Martinez was one of the greatest goalkeepers both in the history of FC Barcelona and La Roja. He was the first and finest of his kind and left a gargantuan legacy behind.       

Zamora could do things never seen before. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Born on 14th February 1901 in Barcelona, Zamora grew up and learned his craft in goalkeeping on the backstreets of the Catalan city. What started as a leisure activity in the neighborhood, it maneuvered Zamora’s interest in the game and transformed him into a guardian in between the sticks. Challenging and extreme measures to prevent the opposition from scoring often would end up in frayed clothes and bleeding elbows. His parents were unhappy about his pursuit to become a professional footballer as his father wanted him to inherit his field of medicine.

In 1913, Zamora was sent to attend university, which was a turning point in his life. Along with picking up nicotine addiction, he also joined a local team, Universitari SC, and started playing full-time football.

At the same time, the founder of Barcelona, Joan Gamper (Hans Kamper) was scouting for young and fresh talents across Catalonia to bolster the transitioning Blaugrana outfit. Gamper inadvertently encountered a young Zamora who was delivering a staggering performance in front of the goal. Enthralled by his astounding shot-stopping technique and anticipation along with the aplomb character on the pitch, Gamper encouraged him to pursue professional football. Despite acknowledging his talent, Gamper was unsure about recruiting him due to his age, which would make it difficult for him to serve as an immediate replacement at the club. However, at the age of fifteen in 1916, Zamora signed for the rivals Espanyol and made his debut at sixteen. 

Pere Gibert, the starting goalkeeper for Espanyol was absent and the club approached young Zamora to accompany them on their trip to face Real Madrid. Zamora delivered an impressive performance against a Los Blancos led by Santiago Bernabeu. The match against Madrid announced the teenage sensational in the Spanish football and promised the starting spot ahead of Gibert. He safeguarded the Espanyol goal till 1919 and inspired them to lift the Campionat de Catalunya in 1918.

However, a dispute with one of the Blanquiazul directors resulted in him leaving the club and signing for the cross-town rivals Barcelona. Zamora dawned the garnet and the blue for the first time on 31st May 1919 in a friendly match against an international eleven consisting of players from the allied nations that had succeeded in the First World War (France, Belgium, and England).

The mere friendly match at the old Carrer Industria ground was in fact much more. It was a monumental instance for its symbolic representation of diplomacy and the introduction of two of the greatest players in the history of Blaugrana — Zamora and Josep Samitier. Both the players became the Blaugrana legends and defined the history of both Barcelona and Spanish football.

Zamora (R) captained Spain through a revolution. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

The 1920s witnessed the first footballing revolution in Spain. It was the dormant period for the political insurgencies in Catalonia, where the proletarian uprisings and anti-anarchist movements ceased temporarily. Instead, the populace was witnessing another revolution, the rise of the first golden generation at the Les Cortes. Moreover, it was the inception of the Spanish National Team as a major footballing power in world football. Zamora along with Samitier and Paulinho Alcantara were the three pivots responsible for the transformation of Barcelona in the 1920s. Zamora was selected to represent the Spanish national team in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.

It was the first-ever Spanish team to compete in an international tournament. He made his debut in La Roja’s first international match with a 1-0 victory over Denmark. Though the rampant Spaniards defeated in the final against Belgium, Zamora’s performance throughout the tournament established him as the best shot-stopper in the world.

It was an eventful tournament for Zamora in some other ways as well, who also grabbed some unwanted attention on and off the pitch. He was sent off in the match against Italy for punching and breaking the jaw of an opposing player. Another time, airport customs officials caught him smuggling Havana cigars across the Belgian border which caused the entire team to get detained and searched before leaving for Spain.                                        

At Barcelona, he earned the nickname El Divino (The Divine One) and his road to stardom surviving the assaults from opposition attacks bagged massive applause from the Culés. He possessed an immense threat in anticipation to charge down attackers in his own box and had all the physical attributes that modern-day football demands from a player. Enormous, build stature, and nonchalant character, Zamora wore the iconic high-necked polo jumper and a hard cap and stood in front of the goal to wait for the unleashing thunderbolts and storm. His style was imitated by many of his contemporaries, who could mirror all but that nerve-wracking stare at your soul.

Calm, composed, yet aggressive. (Photo by A. Hudson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

At Barca, he moulded into one of the athletic goalkeepers of the time. His agility and quick reflexes along with the physical superiority often perplexed the attack. Zamora helped Barcelona to lift two Copa del Rey titles and three Campionats de Catalunya. He led a lavish and celebrity life; in fact, he was the first one to explore the scope of marketing the sporting stardom in Spanish football. The Spaniard spent his time with Tango singer Carlos Gardel, smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and drowning in his favorite cognac tipple. Zamora and Samitier had famous night outs in the 1920s, at the time when Barcelona was becoming one of the fashionable cities in Europe. There were poems and songs flattering his honor, cocktails were named after him. Zamora even acted in a film called ‘Zamora Weds At Last’.        

Zamora’s three-year-long stint at Barcelona came to an end under some controversial circumstances. It was reported that in June 1922, Zamora allegedly asked the Barca board for a wage of 50,000 pesetas. He wanted a move back to Espanyol and Barca was reluctant to approve of the transfer. Even though he managed to convince them for the transfer; in 1922, a yearlong ban from the association for deceiving the tax authorities about the transfer fee resulted in delaying his return. Zamora stayed at Espanyol until 1930, guiding them to win their maiden Copa del Rey title, and also played the first La Liga season in 1929.

In 1930, Zamora’s performance with a broken sternum in an international friendly against England at Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid was enough for Madrid to pick him up for an astounding 150,000 pesetas, of which he personally received an enormous 40,000 pesetas, making him the highest-earning player in Europe of the time. Zamora’s eventual move to Madrid resulted in a downfall with his once admired Barça fans, who suspected him of having allegiance with anti-Catalan institutions.

At Madrid, Zamora partnered with the stopper-backs Ciriaco and Quincoces to form one of the best defenses by conceding just 15 goals from 18 matches in the league and lifted the first LaLiga title with an unbeaten record. The following season Los Blancos signed his compadre and Barca teammate Samitier and retained the league title by conceding only 17 goals. In spite of the disappointments in the league in 1934 and 1936, he guided them to lift the 1936 Copa del Rey trophy by playing a crucial role in the final against Barcelona. It was inarguably one of the best and crucial performances of his career.

The Cup final tie played at Valencia between Barcelona and Madrid was the last competitive match before the Civil war. The match was going into the final minutes with Madrid leading 2-1 and Barca was pressing high and surrounded Zamora alone in the box. After receiving the ball in the final third, an inform Jose Escola who already scored one back, fired the ball hard and low aiming for the inside post. The dry pitch was covered with blinding dust and it was obscuring the view. The crowd was already screaming and started celebrating the goal. When the dust was cleared, Zamora stood there indifferently holding the ball in his hand. A photograph that was taken near the post, the dive he pulled off seconds before the stupendous save remains one of the iconic images of a goalkeeper in the world of football. A photograph that broke the heart and soul of cules.

The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936. Zamora who had a sound relationship with the Franco regiment was captured by the left-wing militia and imprisoned at the Modelo prison. However ABC, a pro-nationalistic paper reported the execution of Zamora and finding his lifeless body in a canal-side in Moncloa district. Nationalistic forces used this as an opportunity to strengthen their propaganda.

Zamora hailed as a gallant victim of the radical left violence. Nationalists were able to exploit the commotion caused by the alleged death of Zamora and in 1934 he was awarded a medal of the Order of the Republic by his namesake by then president of the second Spanish republic, Niceto Zamora. Whilst all this was happening, Zamora was in fact living his life with his regular three-pack cigarettes and cognac in the town of Nice in France. He was partnered with Josep Samitier who fled the country for the same cause, for the third time to play for the local club OG Nice.

Always in the public eye. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Zamora returned to his native in December 1938 to participate in a benefit match between Spain and Real Sociedad, for the Francoist militia. He was later honored by the Franco regiment by the Great Cross of the Order of Cisneros in the 1950s, an evident validation for the great services to the regime. Zamora died in 1978, leaving behind a rather complicated and memorable career. La Liga honoured his majestic contributions by naming the award (Ricardo Zamora Trophy) for the best goalkeeper in the league after him. 

“As with so many figures from the dark ages of football, it is difficult to separate the truth from the misty-eyed recollections, but everyone seems to insist that Zamora was the greatest, better than Yashin, Zoff, Banks, Arconada, and any others you care to mention”.    

Phil Ball | Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (2003)

He remains one of the most important figures in the history of Barcelona and in Spanish football. He might have left on bad terms, but the Blaugrana still adorns the impact and legacy that Zamora left behind. The golden generation of the 1920s was the foundation that established Barça as one of the best sporting entities in Spanish football. His magnetic presence in front of the goal not only won them trophies but inspired the generations of talents to pursue the keeping role. The times when goalkeepers were overlooked for their contributions and presence on the pitch, It was the ‘the divine one’ sent by the heavens to finally write a new testament for those who guard the goal post.   

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