FC Barcelona have been blessed with some of the greatest players ever to don a pair of football boots so, as you can imagine, picking their best ever top ten was no easy task.
FC Barcelona is one of the most prestigious institutions in the history of football and as such, has seen a lot of great players representing the Blaugrana colour over the years. From Diego Maradona to Ronaldo, from Ronald Koeman to Gerard Pique, Barcelona has been a home to several legendary players who have defined a generation in the sport.
Barcelona prides itself over its unique brand of football pioneered by the late Johan Cruyff, that sets the club apart from the rest of the teams in Europe. For a team that prioritizes a beautiful style of playing football as much as, if not more than the results, Barcelona is also one of the most successful clubs in world football.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the greatest players in the history of Barcelona.
10. Pep Guardiola
Though Pep Guardiola’s reputation as one of the greatest managers in the history of football precedes his reputation as a player, he was one of the craftiest defensive midfielders of his generation. Guardiola was the midfield lynch-pin in Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ that won four straight La Ligas in a row and also won the club’s first ever European Cup in 1992.
The gifted deep lying playmaker was also an efficient leader and captained the Barcelona team from 1997 to 2001. Several midfield gems who when on to achieve stardom with Barcelona like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, and Fabregas considered Pep as a reference point in their youth.
9. Dani Alves
Signing for Barcelona in the summer of 2008, Dani Alves went on to revolutionize his trade at FC Barcelona. The gifted Brazilian showed the world that being a full-back did not just involve defending.
Dani Alves often romped forward and made overlapping runs to offer width to the attack or to deliver crosses in the middle. Quite often he’d get into good goal-scoring positions and would either rely on his powerful shot or look for a final pass.
He is one of the most decorated defenders in the history of football and considered by many as the greatest right-back of all time. Dani Alves has represented Barcelona in 391 matches and has scored 21 goals and recorded 82 assists – stunning numbers for a full-back.
When Romario left Barcelona in the summer of 1997, the Spanish giants were looking for a player who could replicate Romario’s flair and prowess in front of goal. They found that in his Brazilian compatriot Rivaldo.
Rivaldo had a blessed left foot, which he used to get past defenders with ease and launch powerful shots. He was also equally devastating from dead-ball situations. In 1999, Rivaldo won both the FIFA World Player of the Year as well as the Ballon d’Or for being the best footballer in the world.
However, his best moments in Barcelona colours arrived in 2001, when Rivaldo scored a spectacular hattrick against Valencia to ensure that the Catalans wouldn’t miss out on Champions League football. One of those goals included a jaw-dropping bicycle kick which has become iconic over the years.
7. Carles Puyol
For over a decade and a half, Puyol was the heart and soul of Barcelona. While many of his teammates were more naturally gifted footballers, few of them played with as much determination, fortitude, and courage as Carles Puyol did.
He held the backline on his own for so long despite not being the biggest or the most technically sound player. Carles Puyol is still recognized as the leader of the side during its most prosperous era, where he lifted three Champions League titles and another 18 trophies.
6. Laszlo Kubala
Laszlo Kubala’s story is fascinating in several ways: Kubala was a refugee who escaped communist Hungary in the back of a truck. He was also supposed to travel with the Torino side to represent them in a friendly against Benfica but pulled out at the last minute due to the illness of his soon. The returning Torino team perished in the Superga Air Disaster.
Laszlo Kubala became the first megastar in the history of Barcelona and his bronze statue is placed just outside the Camp Nou. Kubala was so effective in front of goal and yet, his game was so silky that thousands lined up to watch him play with their own eyes at Camp de les Cortes, Barcelona’s old stadium.
This forced the club to build a new stadium now known as ‘Camp Nou,’ the largest stadium in Europe. Kubala won 14 trophies for the Catalan club and became the icon for a team that tried hard to compete desperately with Alfredo di Stefano’s all-conquering Real Madrid.
To put it simply, during his tenure, Ronaldinho was the most exciting and entertaining player to watch in the world. The things he did on the football pitch quite often made no sense and yet, he could drop the jaw of thousands and leave defenders bamboozled in seconds.
After a rough patch that finished without a title in four years, Ronaldinho’s arrival to Barcelona restored the club’s status among the European elite. Such was his phenomenal control over the ball and his ability to break down the opposition, that arch rivals Real Madrid’s supporters applauded him after his masterclass at the Bernabeu in El Clasico.
In the new millennium, Ronaldinho’s arrival heralded a new era for the club that hasn’t stopped winning since.
4. Andres Iniesta
A La Masia graduate, Andres Iniesta was an artist on the pitch who played football with a level of dexterity not often seen before. Watching Iniesta receive and distributed passes was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.
Along with Xavi and Busquets, he formed arguably the greatest midfield of all time and left his mark on the grandest stages: Champions League semi-final against Chelsea and Champions League finals against Arsenal, Manchester United, and Juventus. He also scored the most important goal in the history of Spanish Football when he won them the World Cup final in 2010.
If Iniesta was the artist of the Barcelona midfield, Xavi was the brain. Like a clockmaker, he kept the team ticking and knew more than anyone else when to lift the tempo and when to slow things down. The maestro in the orchestra, Xavi knew exactly where to find space and when to look for the passes.
Xavi had been with Barcelona ever since he was 11 and after spending 17 seasons with the club and representing their colours in 767 games, he called it a day after conquering 25 trophies and establishing himself as one of the greatest midfielders of all time.
Xavi is expected to return the club of his life and helm responsibilities as a manager in the near future.
2. Johan Cruyff
The revolutionary Dutch footballer, widely regarded among the greatest players of all time, went on to redefine the history of Barcelona, first as a player, and then as a manager. Cruyff is the reason why Barcelona play the way they do and he epitomized the values of the club more than anyone else.
He guided Barcelona to their first league title in almost 13 years in his very first season and won the Ballon d’Or twice. He was also instrumental in matches against Real Madrid and openly protested against Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s regime.
Cruyff was also extremely influential in Barcelona’s history as a coach, installing the ‘Tiki Taka’ philosophy and methodology popularized by the club over the years. It was his Dream Team that won the club four straight La Liga titles and their first European Cup.
1. Lionel Messi
Quite obvious, isn’t it? The greatest footballer of all time is also the most incredible player in Barcelona’s history. We’ve run out of words to describe Lionel Messi long ago.
Ever since he came on and scored a hattrick against Real Madrid as a teenager, Messi has continued to wow the world of football consistently. The record Ballon d’Or and Golden Boot winner, Messi is not only one of the world’s best forwards, but is also a spectacular playmaker who has often carried the team on his shoulders.
He is the highest goal-scorer in the history of Barcelona, highest-scorer in La Liga history, second highest scorer in the history of the Champions League and also holds the record for the most goals in a calendar year and a single season. Messi also has a ton of assists to his name and holds the record for the most appearances in Barcelona’s history.
Leo Messi has also won 34 trophies with Barcelona, which includes 10 La Ligas and four Champions League victories.
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