Barcelona are among the greatest clubs in the history of football, with countless world class talents pulling on the famous jersey over the years.
La Blaugrana have won La Liga on 26 occasions, while they have also lifted the Copa del Rey trophy 30 times so far in their history. And while the Catalan giants haven’t won the Champions League since 2014/15, they have gone on to become champions of Europe five times.
?Barcelona have boasted some of the world’s finest players and here, 90min takes you through the ten best in their illustrious history…
Barcelona career: 1990 – 2001
While Pep Guardiola has forged a reputation as one of the world’s very best managers, he was also a hugely talented footballer himself back in the day.
Guardiola joined the famed La Masia aged 13 before making his debut in 1990. He went on to become a key component in Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, helping the club win their first ever ?Champions League crown. as well as winning four successive league titles between 1991 and 1994.
Often utilised as a deep-lying playmaker, Guardiola was pulling the strings and while he was undoubtedly a gifted footballer, he was also a leader. In fact, he captained the team between 1997 and 2001, before eventually departing. Overall, he made 378 appearances for the club, scoring 11 times and providing 37 assists.
He was also pretty good as manager of Barça, as well.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x6), Copa del Rey (x2), Supercopa de Espana (x4), European Cup
Barcelona career: 1950 – 1961
What a story this man has.
Kubala was supposed to represent Torino in a friendly against Benfica in Portugal, but he pulled out due to family reasons – a decision which ultimately saved his life. This is because he would otherwise have been on board during the tragic Superga air disaster of 1949.
During his time with ?Barcelona, he showed exactly how dangerous he was in front of goal. He was strong and robust, meaning he could hold up the ball with ease, but equally, he could perform a delicate touch or piece of skill to get past a player. The stats reaffirm just how impressive he was, with Kubala scoring 280 goals in 345 games for the club.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x4), Copa del Generalisimo (x5), Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (x2)
Barcelona career: 2003 – 2008
Ronaldinho never failed to amaze and astonish. He had the ability to do things with the ball at his feet that would leave defenders dumbfounded.
This was exactly what happened during one clash with rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldinho scored two stunning goals but instead of being jeered by the home fans, they stood and applauded his talent. Fans of the footballing world united to recognise his skill. He was just that good.
The Brazilian helped restore Barcelona’s elite status, most notably propelling them towards the league and Champions League double in 2006.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x2), Supercopa de Espana (x2), Champions League, Ballon d’Or
Barcelona career: 1973 – 1978
Cruyff was already an instant hero once he decided to join Barcelona rather than rivals Real Madrid. He scored on his debut against Granada and went on to help the team secure their first league title since 1960. The creator of the ‘Cruyff turn’ won the Ballon d’Or that season, before once again picking up the prestigious award the following campaign.
As a manager, Cruyff’s impact on the direction of Barcelona also cannot be understated, with the former player the man to introduce the tiki-tika style of play that has brought so much success to the club over the years.
Major Achievements: La Liga, Copa del Rey, Ballon d’Or (x2)
Barcelona career: 2008 – 2016
Dani Alves became the third-most expensive defender in the world when he joined Barcelona in 2008. As a result, there was pressure on him to deliver, but as he has done throughout his whole career, he certainly did deliver. And consistently too; game after game, year after year.
The Brazilian right-back went on to play 391 times for the Catalan giants and while his primary duty as a defender was to, well, defend, he constantly acted as an outlet on the wing. In his 391 appearances, he scored 21 times, while he also racked up a very impressive 100 assists. Alves is also one of the most decorated defenders in history.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x6), Copa del Rey (x4), Supercopa de Espana (x4), Champions League (x3), UEFA Super Cup (x3), FIFA Club World Cup (x3)
Barcelona career: 1999 – 2014
“He wears me out! I remember the day he came back [after an injury]. In the middle of the game I said: ‘Puyi, I’ve missed you so much.’ He told me to shut the hell up and concentrate…One time, the game was stopped, someone was on the stretcher, and he was shouting at me. I said to him: ‘Calm down, it’s 4-0 and there are three minutes left.’ He said: ‘So what? Focus!'”
This quote (as per ?the Guardian) from Gerard Pique will help anyone understand the type of player Puyol was. He was the ultimate example of hard work and dedication.
The one-club man was instrumental in guiding Barcelona through the most prosperous era in its history. Puyol went on to make
Major Achievements: La Liga (x6), Copa del Rey (x2), Supercopa de Espana (x4), Champions League (x3), UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup (x2)
Barcelona career: 2008 – Present
Pique left Barcelona’s youth setup to join Manchester United, but he later rejoined the club in the summer of 2008. The Spaniard has since gone on to make 527 appearances for his boyhood club, acting as a major figure in the club’s success over the years.
The centre-back formed a stellar partnership with Puyol, but Pique was forced to step up and act as the leader at the back once his fellow defender had announced his retirement – which he did.
Pique started for Barça as they beat Juventus in the Champions League final in 2015. Overall, his performances helped guide them to becoming the first club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup twice.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x8), Copa del Rey (x6), Supercopa de Espana (x6), Champions League (x3), UEFA Super Cup (x2), FIFA Club World Cup (x3)
Barcelona career: 2002 – 2018
Andres Iniesta came through the ranks at La Masia before making his first team debut aged 18 in 2002. Overall, the Spaniard made 654 appearances for La Blaugrana, registering 57 goals and 140 assists in this time.
However, like so many players on this list, the stats most certainly do not paint the complete picture.
Iniesta was sublime during his lengthy stay at Barça, constantly picking his teammates out with his stunning vision. Equally, he had a tremendous awareness of the game, knowing exactly what to do and exactly when to do it. He was also another integral player that helped the club win two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x9), Copa del Rey (x6), Supercopa de Espana (x7), Champions League (x4), UEFA Super Cup (x3), FIFA Club World Cup (x3)
Barcelona career: 1998 – 2015
During Xavi’s 17 seasons at Barcelona, he went on to play 59,000 minutes worth of football for the club – in 767 appearances. He also won 25 trophies during his stay.
The Spaniard was a mesmerising talent and his intelligence was second to none. Constantly picking up pockets of space to work in, opposition were simply unable to cope. Xavi provided a stable platform for other players to flourish, with the midfielder often playing passes which most footballers simply wouldn’t be able to spot.
Xavi was at the heart of everything for Barcelona and while he is no longer dictating things on the field, he could still return to the club as a manager in the future. The 40-year-old ?confirmed in January that he held talks with Barcelona about potentially replacing Ernesto Valverde, before Quique Setien was appointed.
Major Achievements: La Liga (x8), Copa del Rey (x3), Supercopa de Espana (x6), Champions League (x4), UEFA Super Cup (x2), FIFA Club World Cup (x2)
Barcelona career: 2004 – Present
What more can you say about this man that hasn’t already been said?
Countless records continue to tumble in the Argentine’s wake and while he may now be 32 and not having his best ever season, he still has 14 goals and 12 assists from just 19 league appearances.
In 2012, Messi scored a stunning 91 goals in the calendar year (of course, that’s a record) and while this is outrageously good, it is his consistency that is perhaps the most impressive thing. He has scored 50 or more goals in nine of the last ten calendar years for club and country, with the forward only managing 45 in 2013.
Messi made his Barcelona debut in October 2004 and has since gone on to make 714 appearances so far. In this time, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has found the back of the net a staggering 622 times. And as if that wasn’t mind-boggling enough, he has also contributed 261 assists to go with that.
Messi’s ability to effortlessly glide past players is phenomenal, with his low centre of gravity allowing him to weave through opponents with consummate ease. He
Major Achievements: La Liga (x10), Copa del Rey (x6), Supercopa de Espana (x8), Champions League (x4), UEFA Super Cup (x3), FIFA Club World Cup (x3), Ballon d’Or (x6), European Golden Shoe (x6), The Best FIFA Men’s Player, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award (x2)
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