1. LIONEL MESSI
Messi has undisputedly been no 1 at Barcelona for quite some time now. Ever since he burst onto the stage at a tender age of 16 years and 145 days, he has managed to wow us with his amazing, mesmerizing, mazy runs and sublime finishes. By 24, he was already Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in all official club competitions. Messi has the honor of being the only footballer to garner 4 FIFA/Ballon d’or. He did so in consecutive years spanning from 2009-2012 during which he also managed to be the top scorer in 4 consecutive Champions league campaigns. He has also won 3 European Golden Shoe awards along the way. He has the highest number of goals scored in a Calendar year with 91 goals breaking Gerd Muller’s longstanding record of 85 goals. Already considered a living legend in the heart of Barcelona fans, he has helped Barcelona towards numerous titles that includes 6 La ligas, 2 Copa Der Rey, 5 Supercopas De Espana, 3 UEFA Champions leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups. Yet to reach the peak age for a striker, it is seriously frightening the levels he could achieve before he hangs his boot. Having already achieved all the individual accolades and club trophies one could strive for, he’s already one of the greats, if not the greatest player in the books of Barcelona.
Ronaldinho was as skillful as skillful gets. He was simply blessed. Those devastating bursts of pace, acceleration combined with immaculate control and dribbling skills took him past players in a jiffy. Adoringly called “Ronnie’’ by the Barcelona faithful, Ronnie took Barcelona to new heights with his repertoire of skillset that included overhead kicks, blind passes, free kicks, tricks. A two-time FIFA World Player of the year, he guided Barcelona towards being a dominant force in the modern game helping them win the league title in 2004-05 ,05-06, SuperCopa De Espana in 2005 and 2006, UEFA Champions league in 05-06. He was also named the 05-06 Champions League player of the year and was one of the few Barcelona players that received a standing ovation from the Madrid fans at Santiago Bernabeu for his outstanding display.
3. XAVI HERNANDEZ
Having played over 700 games for Barcelona, Xavi is a mastermind in the field. He is the orchestrator. Still plying his trade at Barcelona, Xavi truly must be one of the finest products of La Masia. He makes up for his diminutive stature with his character and composure on the ball, supplying timely killer passes with pinpoint accuracy. His ability to dictate play and create spaces has earned him the nickname “The Puppet Master.” Rarely the one to lose the ball, he hasn’t looked back since making his debut against Valencia on October3, 1998 scaling immeasurable heights and racking numerous trophies, both individually and collectively along the way. A team of 11 Xavi’s would leave the opposition possession less. The Xavi Trophy Cabinet is filled with 7 La Ligas, 2 Copa del rey, 6 Supercopa de Espana, 3 UEFA champions league, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 2 FIFA club world cups.
4. JOHAN CRYUFF
A 3-time footballer of the year, the Dutch legend was signed from Ajax for a then world record transfer of $1 million. He left a mark in Barcelona which is evident even now. The initiator of the famous tiki taka style, Cruyff joined the squad when the team was hovering around the bottom of the table. After donning the jersey, Barcelona then went undefeated for the rest of the campaign, winning the league with Cryuff scoring 16 goals in 26 league appearances. Known for his knack of dictating play with relative ease, he was famous for his goals, the most famous being “The Phantom” goal. A goal he scored while facing away from the goal, with his body twisted in the air and with the usage of his right heel. We should take note that the ball he connected with was at about neck height and was going wide of the far post. The goal has been dubbed Cruyff’s impossible goal. He won 1 La Liga at the club as a player, a trophy that had eluded Barcelona for 13 years since 1960 in the 1973-74 season.
5. MICHAEL LAUDRUP
The footballing genius who could score and set up goals at will, Micheal Laudrup makes the cut of the top footballers in anyone’s list. The attacking midfielder was blessed with outstanding dribbling and passing skills. He played with great elegance and poise often providing defense splitting passes for the likes of Stoichkov. After a relatively average season with Juventus, Laudrup seeked for newer pastures and in Cruyff, he had a great mentor who guided him towards greatness. Laudrup had a free role in the team and he invented his trademark move of looking one way and passing the other. He played a major role in Johan Cruyff’s Dream team along with Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov , Guardiola, Bakero. He was extremely successful in Barcelona winning the La liga 4 times consecutively in 90-91, 91-92, 92-93, 93-94, a Copa Del Rey in 1989-90, Supercopa de Espana twice in 91,92, UEFA European Cup in 91-92 and the UEFA Super Cup in 1992.
6. HRISTO STOICHKOV
One of the quickest way to bond with fans is to hate the main rivals. Stoichkov, the Bulgarian tormented Real Madrid during his tenure at Barcelona. He stated in an interview in 2010 that Real Madrid made him sick. The man who walked the walk, Stoichkov, like Laudrup was part of the Cruyff dream team. He was nicknamed’ El Pistolero” which means ‘ the gunslinger’ by the Blaugrana faithful. He amassed over 100 goals for Barcelona. Known for his temper and unpredictable attempts at goal, Stoichkov was a speedster blessed with blistering pace, dribbling skills, and renowned crossing abilities. He was also famous for his partnership with Romario. He won the Ballon d’or in 1994 and helped Barcelona to 5 La Ligas, 3 Spanish Super Cup, 1 UEFA Champions league, 2 European Super cup, 1 Copa Del rey and 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
7. ANDRES INIESTA
One of the greatest midfielder to ever grace the football field, Andres Iniesta , like Xavi came through La Masia, the youth academy of Barcelona. He made his debut at an early age of 18. He played a pivotal role in Barcelona’s lead up to sextuple trophies in 2009. He glides through the pitch with the ball stuck to his feet. He has made a name for himself with his sublime through balls and determined, mazy runs. He was rightly bestowed upon with the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012 , was named the World’s Best Playmaker in 2012 and 2013 and won the La Liga Spanish player of the year in 2009. For a player to be blessed with such technique, Iniesta isn’t one to rest on his laurels, he always puts in a shift and his work ethic has firmly placed him as a fan favorite. His career has seen him laden with trophies and the honors he has received as a Barcelona player are 6 La ligas, 2 Copa Del Rey, 6 Super Copa de Espana, 3 UEFA Champions league, 2 UEFA Super Cup and 2 FIFA Club World Cup.
8. SAMUEL ETO
Real Madrid’s loss was to be Barcelona’s gain. Having arrived at Barcelona for a transfer fee of 24 million euros, the 4-time African player was a prolific goal scorer for Barcelona, scoring 129 goals and was most famous for netting goals in two separate UEFA Champions League finals. He got the Pichichi trophy, which is given to the top scorer in La Liga, in 2006 contributing 26 goals. He has scored the fastest hat trick in club history finding the net thrice in 23 minutes against UD Almeria. In his prime, Samuel Eto was a player who could latch onto a poor ball with his phenomenal balance and pace and could squeeze his way into goal. In his prime, he was the ultimate poacher, equally adept at both feet, blessed with the ability to overturn a deficit with a stroke of sheer genius. He helped Barcelona to 3 La Ligas, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Supercopa de Espana and 2 UEFA Champions league before being transferred to Inter Milan. He currently plays for Chelsea.
9. CESAR RODRIGUEZ
Although most of us have not been fortunate enough to witness the goal scoring prowess of Cesar Rodriguez, it is certainly deemed a disgrace not to place him amongst the greats to play for Barcelona. Scoring 232 goals in 351 official games, he was the club’s highest goal scorer for several decades before Messi broke it. He was a fox in the box and was widely renowned for his ability to score from corner kicks which is very rare these days. For a player to have scored as many goals as Cesar Rodriguez, he unfortunately won only one Pichichi Trophy in 1948. His career in Barcelona lasted for 13 years and he scored double digits in 11 seasons, exceeding the 20-goal mark in three occasions. During his time at the club, he won 13 major trophies namely 5 La Ligas, 2 Copa Del Deneralisimo, 4 Copa Eva Duarte and 2 Latin Cup.
10. CARLES PUYOL
As a footballer, one would understand the importance of a player who plays for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back. No one epitomizes the fore statement more than the one club man Carles Puyol. A player who was never really blessed with any on the ball techniques, the hardworking player eclipsed any sort of deficiencies in his game with his intense commitment, leadership qualities and his work ethic. He has played close to 600 official matches and has been skippering the squad since the end of 2003-04 season. A firm fan favorite and often described the heart of Barcelona, he is truly an idol every burgeoning footballer should look up to. A player who has always steered clear from controversies, Puyol has shown the entire world that you can make it to the top tier through sheer determination, dedication, hard work and with a big heart. He has won 6 La Ligas, 2 Copa Del Rey, 6 Supercopa de Espana, 3 UEFA champions league, 2 UEFA Super cup, 2 FIFA club world cup.