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Top 10 Barça players of the decade

Javier Giorgetti



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):


#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):


#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):


#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):


#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):


#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):


#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):

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):


#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):


#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):


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.



Josep Samitier, the artist and hero of Barcelona’s first golden age

Amal Ghosh



Header Image by FC Barcelona

Josep Samitier was a surrealist artist on and off the pitch and a legendary midfielder that brought Barcelona its first successful era in the 1920s, as well as some controversy throughout his career.

Surrealism, a deceptive interrogation of reality that transcends the human subconscious to manipulate or alter the coherent understanding of existence. Josep Samitier Vilalta, or “L’home llagosta” (The lobster man) was the most surreal portrait in the history of FC Barcelona. He was called the ‘surrealista’, because his genius produced the illusions on the pitch that were perplexing to fathom as reality.

History is constructed up on the interdependency of figures and events. Samitier was one of those figures who created a rift in the annals of world football to produce the first reverberation of football in the streets of Barcelona. The footballing revolution in Catalonia peaked in the early 1920s, especially in Barcelona, as it was the beginning of the first golden age.

With the construction of the Les Corts stadium, the club assembled a group of talented, young players. Josep Samitier, along with Paulino Alcántara, Ricardo Zamora, Emili Sagi-Barba, Vicenç Piera and Agustín Sancho became the first generation of the club idols. Samitier, among others, was an integral part of Barcelona’s rebuilding of character and went on to become one of the most significant personalities both in terms of sporting and cultural relevance.

Samitier was born on 2nd February 1902 in a Catalan working-class family. As a young boy in the streets of Barcelona where the roads of passion and dreams lead to the grant Les Corts, ‘El Sami’ would kick the ball around waving at the passing commons.

After the club’s establishment, FC Barcelona had quite an attachment with the proletarian class. Especially at the time of industrial unrest, the institution always kept them close and the stadium was always packed with the same working-class populace. Young minds like Samitier who would grow up in the streets of Barcelona always had the ball on their feet and club in their heart.

Samitier started playing for FC Internacional before making his debut for Barcelona at the age of 17 in 1919. The club museum still preserves and cherishes his signing bonuses, a shimmering watch and a three-piece suit. By 1925, Samitier became the highest-paid player at the club and thus became the highest-earning player in the country.

The division of labour was evident in the early years of European football. Whilst the backline remained static to protect the goal, the forward line had to pick and fight the battle on their own. Samitier was among the key figures who created a paradigm shift from this prevailing ‘Basque style’, where the attackers held the sole responsibility to win the ball and navigate their own way to find a goal. Samitier was among the first players to orchestrate the game from the back. He was like a master of the opera performance where he controlled and navigated the rhythm and flow of the game.

Emili Sagi-Barba Vicenç Piera Josep Samitier Barcelona

Josep Samitier (middle), alongside teammates Emili Sagi-Barba (left) and Vicenç Piera (right) from the successful Barcelona team of the 1920s | Photo by FC Barcelona

Samitier was an exceptional player who could manipulate the ball like a wizard, and he dribbled the ball around the pitch like a ballet dancer. He was the first midfielder general in the history of Spanish football, whose role was the hybrid between a Pivote (central midfielder) and the Leñero (chopper) or sweeper. Samitier was the harbinger of the modern-day box-to-box role. Despite being positioned in a deep-lying role, Samitier was an outstanding goalscorer. It was rather unusual for a midfielder of that time to score an astonishing 184 goals for any club in Europe.

Even though Barcelona was graced with many prolific players, Samitier was the core of the magnificent Barça team of the 1920s. He would hack the ball from the opposition to carry the ball from the midfield to provide a line-breaking pass in the final third. His glorious days at Les Corts were filled with thrilling langosta (lobster) kicks which would eventually evolve into the modern ‘chilena’ or bicycle-kick. Samitier was an entertainer on the pitch. His ostentatious performance attracted the Catalans into the stadium.

His glittering thirteen years in a blaugrana shirt were decorated with 11 Catalan Championships, 5 Spanish Championships and the first Spanish league that began in 1928. Moreover, his time with Barça was embellished with title-winning goals in the Copa del Rey finals of 1922, 1925, 1926 and 1928.

Pepe Samitier’s momentous career at Barcelona transformed him from a sporting figure to a cultural icon in Catalan society. His reputation at the club produced a strong political outline for himself among the intellectuals in the society. It was an unprecedented period in the socio-cultural scenario of Europe. The entrée of subjective art and understanding by Salvador Dalí, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh among other artistic prominence overtook the existing concepts of impressionism and naturalism.

Samitier aligned with surrealism, indulging the spirit of subjectivity. He reflected this both in the game and in his outside loyalties. His acquaintances mostly consist of radical artists and political figures of the time, including the tango maestro Carlos Gardel, Mauricio Chevalier, Salvador Dalí and, in contrast to his idol figure in Catalonia, he also had a close relationship with the dictator Franco.

In 1933, after a dramatic feud with the Barcelona management, an ageing El Sami dropped from the first team. Real Madrid, then called Madrid CF, took advantage of this dispute and were able to convince him to join the club. However, it was his secret allegiance with General Franco that helped Madrid to accomplish the operation.

Even though his short stint at Madrid wasn’t really celebrated, Samitier did guide them to win the La Liga title in 1932/33 and the Copa de España in 1934. But he played a significant role for Madrid, not as a player but as a super-agent in a decade-defining transfer of Alfredo Di Stéfano, whose intended destination was Barcelona. This signing was the inflexion point for Madrid in the 1960s, as Di Stéfano would go on to score 216 goals and play an important role in their European domination. Although Samitier’s allegiance with General Franco was visible, this transfer saga threw the relationship open into society.

Alfredo Di Stéfano Real Madrid Josep Samitier Barcelona

Real Madrid’s signing of Alfredo Di Stéfano (right) changed Real Madrid’s history forever | Photo by Staff / AFP via Getty Images

Before the Spanish civil war burst out in 1936, Samitier spent a brief time in managing Atlético de Madrid, succeeding Fred Pentland in the middle of the season, but failed to keep them in the first division. Nonetheless, the season was scrapped as soon as the civil war started and Samitier, who had strong ties with the nationalist side, found himself blacklisted and arrested by the anarchist militia.

Eventually, he was released by the militia and fled to France. His exile to France was later utilized by the Franco regiment to spread the anti-communist propaganda by portraying this event in a film titled ‘The Stars Search for Peace’, where Samitier enacted himself. During his time in France, Samitier joined OGC Nice as a player, where he would unite with his old teammate Zamora. He went onto score 47 goals in 82 matches. In 1939, he retired as a footballer and briefly managed OGC Nice in 1942.

After two years and 8 months, the civil war ended and the nationalists alliance under General Franco demolished the second Spanish republic to establish the new Spanish state. Josep Samitier returned to Spain in 1944, and he took charge of Barcelona. His homecoming was celebrated as he guided Barcelona to win their second-ever La Liga title in 1945 and lifted the Copa de Oro Argentina by beating the Copa del Generalísimo winners Athletic Club de Bilbao.

Subsequently, Samitier became the chief scout of the club and his keen vision in recognising the talent resulted in the discovery and recruitment of Ladislao Kubala, a player who went on to become a legend at Barcelona. The recruitment of Kubala was the status redemption for Samitier, who had lost its shine after the Di Stéfano transfer saga.

In 1972, Samitier rested his soul and left his showmanship and sorcery to cherish in the memories of Catalans. Despite serving Madrid and his close relationship with General Franco, he was given an honourable state funeral as a Catalan hero. Samitier was the most symbolic player in the history of the club. His close affiliation with both the cultural and sporting context of Barcelona formed an irrevocable stature of him in the Catalan society.

Samitier, as a footballing visionary, is a reference to the modern-day midfielders and, on the other hand, he was an imperative cultural icon who embraced a revolutionary socio-cultural movement in his life. Samitier’s journey from being an ambitious boy in the streets of Barcelona to a footballing legend remains one of the inspiring and reviving narrative in the history of the game. Even today, walking down the Josep Samitier Street, one could still gather an enigmatic chanting celebrating the greatest artist in the history of Barcelona.

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