Top five managers in the world

As promised, here are my top five managers in the world!

Pep Guardiola – Bayern Munich

First up is who in my opinion is the best manager in the world, fair enough the two clubs Pep has managed have been ridiculously talented but you can only work with what you have and he worked tremendously well to make Barcelona and Bayern two footballing machines. He is currently regarded as one of the best managers of his generation due to his success which will no doubt continue.

In 2008, which was his first season in charge of Barcelona, he guided them to the treble and in doing so became the youngest manager to win the Champions League, Barcelona were also the first Spanish club to achieve the treble. The following season Guardiola won the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, achieving a sextuple. In 2011, Guardiola was named the FIFA World Coach of the Year, in the same year he was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal (their highest honour) for his services to football.

In 2012 Guardiola resigned as manager of Barcelona after winning 14 trophies in 4 years at the club. At the beginning of the 2013-14 season he took charge of Bayern Munich where in his first season he won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. His current Bayern team are well on course to win the Bundesliga as they are 11 points clear at the top.

Guardiola’s coaching style has very much been based on the tiki-taka style of play, focusing on ball possession using short passes and clever movement and a disciplined, aggressive pressing style where the ball is won much higher up the pitch. The style is associated with Johan Cruyff’s spell as Barcelona manager whom Guardiola played under, adopting the style in his coaching days.

Guardiola has a win percentage of 73.3% and he has managed Barcelona B, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. As a manager he has won one Tercera Division, three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, three Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, one Bundesliga and one DFB-Pokal. 

Jose Mourinho – Chelsea

Mourinho made a name for himself in his first spell at Chelsea when he described himself as “The Special One” but he had been making a name for himself in Portugal and Spain way before that. He is regarded by many pundits, coaches and players as the best manager in the world and one of the best managers ever. 

The Portuguese manager started off as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson and broke off to do his own thing, he had brief but successful spells with Benfica and Uniao de Leiria (who he took to their highest ever league finish). He went to Porto in 2002 and won the Champions League, the Taca de Portugal and two Premeira Liga titles before moving to Chelsea in June 2004.

At Chelsea he won their first league title in 50 years, delivering it with a record points total of 95, in his second season Chelsea retained the Premier League title. In 2008 Mourinho moved to Inter Milan where he guided them to the treble in 2009-10, becoming the first Italian team to do so. In winning the Champions League with Internet became one of five coaches to win the European Cup with two different teams. In 2010 he moved to Real Madrid where he won the La Liga title in 2012, making him one of four managers to win league titles in at least four different countries. After leaving Madrid in 2013, he returned to Chelsea for a second spell.

Mourinho’s style of play is very much based on his tactical knowledge, his emphasis on getting results over playing beautiful football has been both criticised and admired, just like his charismatic personality. Between February 2002 and April 2011, Mourinho went 150 home league games unbeaten. His second unbeaten home league record stretched for 45 games, the 2-1 defeat to Sunderland also ended a 77 game unbeaten league streak at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has a win percentage of 66.9%, he has managed at Benfica, Uniao de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He has won two Premeira Liga, one Taca de Portugal, one Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, one UEFA Cup, two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, one FA Community Shield, two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italia, two UEFA Champions League titles, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana.

Carlo Ancelotti – Real Madrid

Ancelotti is a manager who is regarded as one of the best of his generation, as well as the second most popular eyebrow in the world behind The Rock. He was a successful player before his managerial days, being one of six men to win the European Cup/Champions League as both a player and manager. 

After spells at Reggina, Parma and Juventus, Ancelotti was appointed AC Milan manager in 2001. He won the Serie A in 2004 and UEFA Champions League in 2003 and 2007. He is one of only two managers to have one three European Cups and is one of five to win it with two different clubs. In 2009, he was appointed Chelsea manager and in his first season led them to a historic League and Cup double, becoming the second non-British manager to win the double. The league win saw Chelsea finish the campaign with 103 goals, becoming the first team to score more than 100 goals in a season.

In December 2011, he signed with recently rich Paris Saint-Germain and in his first full season with the club he won the Ligue 1 title. In June 2013, Ancelotti signed for Real Madrid and in his first season he delivered the historic 10th Champions League title that the club had craved, he has also won the Copa del Rey with Real Madrid which was the clubs 19th Spanish Cup win.

The Real Madrid boss lets his teams express themselves on the pitch which leads to entertaining football. His craving and demand for dynamic attacking football allows him to explore various tactics and embrace different systems while delivering entertaining attacking displays.

The Italian has a win percentage of 59.7% and he has managed Reggina, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. He has won one Intertoto Cup, three Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups, one Serie A, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana, one Premier League, one FA Cup, one FA Community Shield, one Ligue 1 and one Copa del Rey.

Joachim Low – Germany

Personally I couldn’t have a top five managers in the world without having the manager of the holders of the World Cup, Low had a decent pedigree as a club manager but like the story of so many international managers before him, finds his comfort and real skills managing at the international level.

Low started his managerial career at VFB Stuttgart where he won the DFB-Pokal, he had spells at Fenerbahce for a year before going to Karlsruher SC before returning to Turkey as manager of Adanaspor. In October 2001, Low became manager of Tirol Innsbruck and led them to the Austrian Championship, the same year the club was unfortunately declared bankrupt and liquidated, he had a nine-month spell with FK Austria Wien before joining the German national team as assistant manager.

Low was named head coach in 2006 following Jurgen Klinsmann’s departure and at Euro 2008, Low’s first major tournament in charge, Germany were beaten finalists ultimately losing out to Spain. Germany collected the bronze medal in World Cup 2010 and eliminated in the semi-finals in Euro 2012. Germany kicked off their 2014 World Cup campaign with a resounding 4-0 win over Portugal, which wasn’t their biggest win in their campaign. Low masterminded a 7-1 demolishing of Brazil in the semi-final which was Brazil’s worst ever World Cup defeat to book their place in the final where they beat Argentina 1-0 after a Mario Gotze goal in extra time.

Low continued the philosophy which he developed with Klinsmann in the German national setup to play an offensive style. During his tenure he has increased the pace of the German play which has seen them become the best international team in World football, also due to the players at his disposal. He won the FIFA World Coach of the Year 2014 for his World Cup winning efforts.

Low has a win percentage of 54.6% and he has managed at VFB Stuttgart, Fenerbahce, Karlsruher SC, Adanaspor, Tirol Innsbruck, Austria Wien and Germany. He has won one DFB-Pokal, one Austrian football league, one Austrian Supercup and World Cup 2014.

Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid

Simeone is a player who I didn’t like in his playing days but I couldn’t doubt his talent but since his switch to management I can’t help but love his passion and tenacity – which were synonymous with his playing style throughout his career. 

The Argentina international ended his playing career at Racing in 2006, he then became manager for the same team. When a new manager was elected, Simeone was replaced three months later. He joined Estudiantes in May and led them to their first league title in 23 years. In an October 2006 poll,  Simeone was voted the best manager in the Argentine league. He continued to manage in Argentina until 2011 when he joined Catania. Simeone left Catania after staving off relegation, when he joined Racing for a second spell.

In December 2011, Simeone joined Atletico Madrid and his first season ended in winning the UEFA Europa League. In 2012-13 Simeone won the UEFA Super Cup and Copa del Rey by beating rivals Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu, Atletico finished the season in third place, the club’s best finish since 1996 win they won it. In 2013-14 Atletico recorded eight straight league victories which was their best start in the club’s history, they won the league on the final day of the season and Simeone became the second person to win La Liga as a player and a coach. Atletico collected 90 points in La Liga making the 2013-14 season the most successful in the club’s history.

Simeone’s coaching style is based on his own playing style; he has to mould the team into his own image. He has embedded the same fearsome passion for success he had into Atletico’s setup, the Argentine demands passion and aggression from his players as well as a defensive solidity which has become Atleti’s trademark. Simeone also has an ability to improve the ability of those who he works with, allowing him to reap the rewards.

The Argentine has a win percentage of 54.8% and he has managed Racing, Estudiantes, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Catania and Atletico Madrid. He has won two Argentine Primera Division, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Europa League and one UEFA Super Cup.



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Premier League top five: Most Improved

The Premier League has seen a lot of individual performances improve over the course of the season, here is my top five most improved in the Premier League!

Francis Coquelin – Arsenal

The French defensive midfielder has been at Arsenal since 2008 and has been both in and out of the team and out on loan multiple times. But during the second half of this season Coquelin has been a revelation in the Arsenal first team, providing the mobile defensive midfield option that fans have so desperately craved for the last few seasons.

With Gooners crying for the money to be spent on an out-and-out defensive midfielder for as long as anyone can remember, Arsene Wenger was under mounting pressure to find an option – Krystian Bielik was bought in and it was underwhelming to say the least for the fans. Coquelin was brought in from the shadows and has been the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield problems thus far.

His passion, defensive positioning and tackling has seen a new lease of life enter the Arsenal first-team. He is also one of the longest serving players at the club, having been at the club since 2008 but only making 43 appearances in the previous seven years, in which he also had loan spells at Lorient and SC Freiburg.

This season started late for Coquelin as he joined Championship side Charlton in November on an initial month-long loan which was extended through December, he was recalled after making five appearances due to the injury crisis at Arsenal. Manager Arsene Wenger said:” I saw that he made huge improvements in training so I sent him on loan for match practice.” On December 28th he made his first Premier League start in 23 months against West Ham, after impressing he retained his spot against Manchester City where he impressed further and he has been an important member of the starting eleven ever since.

Jordan Henderson – Liverpool

For me this is the biggest improver on the list. Bear in mind that in 2012 that Henderson was told by Brendan Rodgers that he could leave Liverpool but opted to stay. It was around that time that many Liverpool fans were calling for the midfielder to be sold, just a year after his £20million move to Liverpool but they must be glad that Rodgers kept his faith in the Sunderland born midfielder. 

Fast forward three years and Henderson has been made Liverpool vice-captain and is looking the most likely to be made captain after Steven Gerrard departs for LA Galaxy in the summer, which would make him one of Liverpool’s youngest ever captains at 25.

Henderson has been a regular in Liverpool’s team this season, playing a part in all but one of their league games. He has shouldered the responsibility of vice-captain excellently in Gerrard’s recent absences as he started captain throughout February, a run which saw Liverpool unbeaten. 

His versatility has been a big help in his Liverpool career, meaning he can play right wing, right midfield, right back, as well as the centre midfield role which he has made his own. His hard-working attitude, alongside his improved technical ability make him a fan-favourite at Anfield these days, which was never made more obvious than when the unveiling of Henderson as vice-captain was greeted with such positive feedback.

Nacho Monreal – Arsenal

Arsenal signed Monreal in 2013 as competition for first-choice left back Kieran Gibbs and initially made a decent start to his career in North London but a dip in form saw the Spaniard go down in the mind of fans, who have always seen Gibbs as first choice.

Monreal found a new lease of life earlier this season after being put at centre back after an injury crisis forced Arsene Wenger’s hand in putting the 29-year-old in an unfamiliar role, where he did a good job. This experience helped Monreal both tactically and physically which he has now been able to put into practice back into his more preferred role on the left side of defence.

The criticism for Monreal was unfair I felt, he became a magnet for criticism which was very harsh. Even if he played well there were sections of fans who would blame Monreal for the entire teams failings. Of course he had his struggles but ask a left back to play in a position they’re unfamiliar with and there will be struggles but he was by no means the root cause of Arsenal’s woes.

Since being put back in at left back Monreal has seen himself retain his role at the expense of Englishman Gibbs, even scoring an important goal in the recent victory against Manchester United which summed up Monreal’s turnaround. Monreal has been the most consistent and picked member of The Gunners back four this term and he has personified Arsenal’s upturn in form.

Harry Kane – Tottenham

Harry Kane started to make a name for himself at the end of last season when he scored three goals in three games but was still a relative unknown in the Premier League. This season he has propelled himself to be the third highest top scorer in the Premier League with 16 goals, just two goals off top scorer Diego Costa.

His form has seen Kane thrust into the spotlight and he is set to receive a call-up to the England team in the next round of international fixtures with England taking on Lithuania in a Euro 2016 qualifier and a friendly in Italy four days later.

Kane has scored 26 goals in 41 games this season. He has also won two Player of the Month awards and has undoubtedly been one of the start players of the season – not bad for someone who had only scored 21 goals in his senior career before this season.

Kane has also helped Tottenham’s cause beyond goal-scoring this season. After scoring a hat-trick against Asteras Tripoli in a Europa League group stage match, Kane had to go in goal after Hugo Lloris was sent off with no substitutes remaining – unfortunately conceding the only goal Tottenham conceded all game. But we were here to talk about his goal-scoring exploits, not his goal-saving!

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool

The Brazilian playmaker is a firm favourite at Anfield but his career at Liverpool has been littered with inconsistency so far since his £8million move from Inter Milan. By the way, I am still very confused as to why they let Coutinho go for such a low prices for the calibre of player he is.

Recently Coutinho has flourished in the Liverpool team in the flowing attacking midfield role that he takes up. He has been pulling the strings in the midfield and chipping in with goals too, three of his recent goals coming against Bolton, Southampton and Manchester City all being nominated for their respective goal of the month competitions, with his strike against Southampton winning Premier League goal of the month for February.

Coutinho’s end product has undoubtedly been the most improved side of his game as well as his ability to take hold of big games, just ask Manchester City and their back line who felt the force of Coutinho in full flow. He has scored big goals in big games as well as putting in the match winning performances to boot, which Liverpool have lacked so often this season.

Coutinho had an excellent start to his Liverpool career but consistency has been his problem. An average start to his season coupled with Liverpool’s poor form made the youngsters performances look even worse but his emergence since has coincided with Liverpool’s turnaround in fortune which has seen them go for the top four and have a good cup run.

Top five strikers in the world

Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

The highly sought-after Polish international was snapped up on a free by Bayern when his contract at rivals Borussia Dortmund expired. He signed a pre-contractual agreement in January 2014 after much speculation about the clinical striker and his future and he was then presented to Munich fans in July of the same year. His world class forward play leading a phenomenally talented Dortmund front line earned him the move to the most successful team in German football and he hasn’t looked back.

His move garnered much controversy, as had his team-mate Mario Gotze’s move the year before. But Lewandowski’s attitude endeared him to the Dortmund fans meaning his departure didn’t leave them with as bitter of a taste in their mouth.

Lewandowski’s style of play can be seen as the ultimate striker. Using a combination of strength, speed and hard-work as well as his assured technical ability to cause havoc in opposition boxes. 

To date he has made 333 career club appearances, scoring 179 goals. He has played for Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He has also made 66 appearances for the Polish national team, who he captains, scoring 23 goals.

He has won one Ekstraklasa, one Polish cup, one Polish SuperCup, two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and one DFL-Supercup.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

His name is forever etched in the mind of Premier League fans after that dramatic title win in 2012, City fans have even gone to the length of getting his name lengthened on the back of their shirt to commemorate Aguero’s (and Martin Tyler’s) contribution that day. 

The Argentine striker has made a reputation for himself since arriving at Manchester City in 2011 and that reputation is that he is one of the deadliest strikers the Premier League has ever seen. As of right now he has the highest goals per minute ratio in the history of the Premier League averaging a goal every 115 minutes.

Aguero’s diminutive stature is what allows him to utilise his agility and acceleration, but his stocky build makes him surprisingly hard to shake off the ball despite his lack of height. Combine his physical attributes with his close control and shooting ability and it’s hard not to see why City paid £35million for him and why he is one of the best strikers not just in the Premier League, but also the world.

To date, Aguero has made 435 club career appearances, scoring 221 goals. He has played for Independiente, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. He has also made 59 appearances for the Argentina national team at senior level, scoring 22 goals.

He has won one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Intertoto Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two Premier League titles, one Capital One Cup, one FA Comunity Shield and an Olympic Gold Medal. 

Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Best player in the world, best player of his generation, best player ever – these are just some of the opinions held of Lionel Messi by fans, pundits, professionals and coaches alike. What I can’t deny is that Messi is one of the most naturally talented footballers I have ever seen.

Ever since he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 2005, the Argentine has set the world alight and on the date he made his debut I’m not sure many knew just how significant it would be for the footballing world as Messi has broken record after record since. He has broken 49 individual records including La Ligas highest ever goal scorer, Barcelonas highest scorer in their history, most goals in a calendar year and most FIFA Balon d’Or awards. All this and he is still only 27.

Messi has always been known for his pace, acceleration and dribbling but add onto that his incredible passing range and his unerring finishing ability and you have one of the most versatile attacking players ever seen. No matter where you go you will always hear the Ronaldo vs Messi debate as to who is better despite them having two contrasting styles of play , personally I’m just glad that we have the privilege of witnessing them both in our generation.

Messi has so far been a one club man, having been at Barcelona his entire career to date. He had made 495 club appearances for Barcelona, scoring 406 goals. He has also made 97 appearances for the Argentina national team, scoring 45 goals. He was named captain of Argentina in 2011.

He has won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, five Supercopa de Espanas three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups and one Olympic Gold Medal. 

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Brazilian-born striker has set the Premier League alight since his £32million move last year. His physicality and lethal striking instincts have provided Chelsea with the striker they’ve needed since Didier Drogba departed, who ironically rejoined as Costa signed – although no longer at the peak of his powers.

After Falcao left Atleti in 2013 and Costa was made the main striker his strike rate improved after he was made the focal point of the attack. Before that he was very much a fringe player at Vicente Calderon, moving on loan to three different teams and even being sold and brought back again before his successful run in the first team.

Costa’s physical style of play has seen him make an excellent start to his career in England, scoring 17 goals in 27 games for Chelsea and making him a constant thorn in opposition sides. He gained a reputation at Atletico Madrid for his nasty streak but it was utilised by Diego Simeone who helped Costa enhance his discipline but without losing any of his aggression and determination. His attitude added to his excellent physical stature and pace, mixed with his scoring abilities make him an ideal target man for Chelsea, he could prove to be the main protagonist in Chelsea’s title hunt.

The Spanish striker has made 305 career club appearances, scoring 120 goals. He has played for Penafiel, Braga, Celta, Albacete, Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. He has made two appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring no goals. But after his successful request to change his nationality to Spanish, he has made seven appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring one goal.

He has won one La Liga, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one Capital One Cup.

Luis Suarez – Barcelona

Luis Suarez was the jewel in the Anfield crown during his time at Liverpool, although his time there was mired with controversy he will no doubt go down as one of the most loved strikers in the clubs history, as well as one of the most controversial. His form at Liverpool earned him a £75million move to Barcelona last summer where he endured a tough start but his form has since picked up.

The Uruguayan went from being the main man in Liverpool to being in Messi and Neymar’s shadow but it seems to be a role that Suarez has managed to adapt to. His assists and all-round play, added to his recent improved goal scoring form have meant he has slotted in well in the Barcelona front line, making the most fearsome attacking trio in world football.

Suarez’s style of play mixes his superb technical ability with speed and work-rate. A style of play which seems to be synonymous with South American footballers nowadays mixing flair and skill with an industrious, passionate work ethic.

To date Suarez has made 389 club career appearances, scoring 233 goals. He has played for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona. He has also made 82 appearances for the Uruguay national team, scoring 43 goals.

He has won one Primera Division, one Eredivisie, one KNVB Cup, one Johan Cruyff Shield, one Capital One Cup and one Copa America.

Top five wingers in the world

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid

Since the Portuguese winger moved to the Spanish capital he has gone from World Class status to legendary. His goals to games ratio since his then record-breaking £80million move is greater than 1 in 1 standing at 290 goals in 281 games.

Ronaldo is the current Ballon d’Or holder after a historical 2013/2014 season with Real Madrid as he helped fire them to their much anticipated La Decima Champions League title. His scoring record in the Champions League campaign was record-breaking 17 goals in 11 games, making him the competitions top scorer for the second consecutive season, helping take his total number of goals in the season to 67 goals in all competitions – which was the fourth consecutive season he had scored over 50 goals in all competitions.

Ronaldo has been viewed by many players, coaches, pundits and legends as the complete attacker with his pace, strength, fitness, goal scoring ability, his ability to use either foot as well as his aerial prowess. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation and hailed as one of the best players ever.

He has made 604 career club appearances, scoring 413 goals, having played for Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid. He has also made 118 appearances for the Portuguese National Team, scoring 52 goals and he has been Portugal captain since 2008.

He has won three English Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two English League Cups, one FA Community Shield, two UEFA Champions League titles, two FIFA Club World Cups, one La Liga, two Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup and he is also the current holder of the Ballon d’Or.

Neymar – Barcelona

Neymar has been a superstar since the age of 18 when he rose to the attention of Brazil (and the world) by shining consistently for Santos. The skilful winger gained notoriety for his pace, skill and playmaking skills and was linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid before eventually joining Barcelona in 2013.

Since breaking through as Brazil’s next big thing, a lot of pressure was put on the electric wingers shoulder’s but he has consistently shown he is up to the standard for both club and country. He is currently Brazil’s fifth highest goalscorer in their history despite only being 23.

Neymar is one of the first names on the Barcelona team sheet and has forged an excellent understanding with Lionel Messi and new arrival Luis Suarez, making one of the most fearsome attacking trios in world football.

Neymar has made 295 career club appearances, scoring 175 goals. He has played for Santos and Barcelona. He has also made 60 appearances for the Brazilian National Team, scoring 42 goals and being named vice-captain in 2013.

He has won three Campeonato Paulista titles, one Copa do Brasil, one Copa Libertadores, one Recopa Sudamericana, one Supercopa de Espana, three Supercopa de las Americas and one Confederations Cup.

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid

There was a fascinating stat for Bale when he was at Tottenham – he didn’t register a single win in his first 20 games for the club – fast forward to his final couple of seasons at Spurs and he was the reason for a lot of their wins and now he is rivalling Cristiano Ronaldo to be the main man at Real Madrid.

Now I won’t lie, when he first started to shine at Tottenham, I claimed he was over-rated. But he has proven time and time again that I was wrong – whether it be beating full backs for fun, drilling free-kicks in the top corner or lashing a shot into the back of the net. After a PFA Player & Young Player of the Year award, as well as the FWA Player of the Year award and an £86million move to Real Madrid in 2013, I think it’s safe to say he proved me wrong.

Bale’s outstanding attributes have always been his incredible pace, stamina and set piece ability, but when you add into that his efficiency in the final third with his passing and finishing which has consistently improved, you have one of the most lethal wingers in world football – not bad for someone who started out as a full-back.

The Welshman has made 326 career club appearances, scoring 96 goals. He has played for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. He has also made 45 appearances for Wales, scoring 14 goals.

Bale has won one UEFA Champions League, one Copa del Rey, one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

Barcelona’s acquisition of Suarez and the heavy speculation around the time meant that they could afford to let Sanchez go for the right price – and Arsenal certainly came up with the right price at £35million and I’m glad they did, as I’m sure 100% of Arsenal fans are.

Sanchez’s final season in Barcelona was a pointer of things to come as he scored 21 goals in 54 games in all competitions, the best season tally in his career so far.

Sanchez’s style of play which mixes flair, technical skill and a determination which has become synonymous with South American players has become an instant hit at the Emirates, endearing him to team-mates, coaches and fans alike – not to mention his stat of 18 goals in 32 games helping him in his first season so far.

The Chilean forward has made 414 career club appearances so far, scoring 111 goals. He has played for Cobreloa, Colo-Colo, River Plate, Udinese, Barcelona and Arsenal. He has also made 77 appearances for the Chilean national team, scoring 26 goals.

He has won two Chilean league titles, one Argentinian league title, one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana titles, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and one FA community Shield.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

There was a huge transfer saga before the Belgian finally decided to move to Chelsea – and I mean one of the biggest transfer sagas I remember. But Hazard eventually revealed he would be moving to Chelsea and immediately made people question his ability –  by saying:” I hope I don’t become a big-money flop.” But Hazard has proved to be anything but a flop since his £32million move to London. 

Hazard has gone on to be one of the best players in the Premier League consistently since his move from Lille and last season his contribution at Chelsea was recognised as he was named  2013/2014 PFA Young Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year.

Hazard’s style of play means he can play as an attacking midfielder or winger. He possesses excellent pace and acceleration which is coupled with his ability to pass or shoot with both feet making him one of the most unpredictable players in the league, meaning he can create goals and score them in abundance.

He has made 341 career club appearances, scoring 94 goals. He has played for Lille and Chelsea. He has also made 53 appearances for Belgium, scoring 6 goals.

He has won one Ligue 1 title, one Coupe de France and one UEFA Europa League.

Top five centre midfielders in the world.

Yaya Toure – Manchester City

The Ivorian powerhouse has been one of Manchester City’s most influential players since his arrival from Barcelona in 2010. His main attributes are his power and pace but that’s not all there is to his game with his excellent passing, ball control and shooting ability.

He never shirks from the defensive duties he has but his undoubted qualities in the attacking third have made him more of a box-to-box midfielder than the defensive midfield role he had in his Barcelona days.

His importance to Manchester City has never been made more apparent than when he hasn’t been in the team, such as their recent downturn in form since his trip to the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

To date he has made 494 career club appearances, scoring 83 goals having played for Beveren, Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos, Monaco, Barcelona and Manchester City. He has also made 95 appearances for the Ivory Coast national team, who he currently captains and has been since last year, scoring 19 goals.

He has won one Ivory Coast Premier Division, one Greek league title and one Greek cup, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, two English Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Football League Cup, one FA Community Shield, one African Cup of Nations and he has also been named African Footballer of the Year four times.

Toni Kroos – Real Madrid

In Toni Kroos’ career so far he has become one of the most successful and well recognised centre midfielders in the world, not to mention one of the best.

His efficiency in the dominant Bayern Munich midfield of recent years, as well as his ever-presence in the all conquering German national team at the World Cup earned him a £25million move to European champions Real Madrid.

His playmaking skills in a deeper role have made Kroos one of the best passing playmakers in the world and before he went to Real Madrid he was one of the most sought after too.

He has made 306 club career appearances so far in his career, scoring 40 goals and playing for Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. He has also made 57 appearances for the German national team, scoring 9 goals.

In his career so far he has won one Champions League, two UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups, three Bundesliga titled, three DFB-Pokal, one DFB-LigaPokal, one DFL-Supercup and one World Cup.

Luka Modric – Real Madrid

I love footballers who make playing football look easy. Luka Modric certainly falls into the category of players who do that. After an initial tough start to life in Madrid after his move from Tottenham, he has flourished into one of the best box-to-box playmakers in world football, enhancing the reputation he had built at Tottenham.

His recent ability to sit deep and break up play since his move to Madrid is matched by his passing ability and skills as a playmaker making the Croatian one of the most complete midfielders in the world.

He was pivotal in the clubs La Decima Champions League campaign – playing all but two games – and in the La Liga title race where he was the team’s most efficient passer with 90%, also winning the LFP award for best midfielder in La Liga. He started off the 2014/15 season in fine form but unfortunately his progress was halted when he picked up an injury which kept him out for three months.

He has made 448 career club appearances, scoring 69 goals. He has played for Zrinjski Mostar, Inter Zapresic, Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. He has also made 83 appearances for the Croatian National Team, scoring 10 goals.

He has won three Croatian league titles, two Croatian cups and one Croatian Supercup, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana.

Nemanja Matic – Chelsea

Despite initially being sold to Benfica as part of the deal which saw David Luiz make his way to London, Matic was brought back to Chelsea after three years in Portugal due to his ability as a defensive shield which Chelsea so desperately needed.

Matic has grown into one of the best out-and-out defensive midfielders in the world, shielding Chelsea’s back four and acting as the perfect foil for the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa – his ball playing skills aren’t too shabby either having initially been a playmaker before his conversion to defensive midfield under Jorge Jesus at Benfica.

Matic has proved vital thus far in Chelsea’s Premier League campaign, as well as their Champions League run. He was also set to feature in Chelsea’s upcoming Capital One Cup final against Tottenham but after picking up a red card after reacting to a bad challenge against Burnley he will be suspended.

The big Serbian has played in 271 career club appearances so far in his career, scoring 18 goals – having played for Jedinstvo Ub, MFK Kosice, Chelsea, Vitesse and Benfica. He has made 18 appearances for the Serbian national team, scoring no goals.

He has won one Slovak cup, one FA Cup, one Premeira Liga, one Taca de Portugal and one Taca de Liga. He is also the reigning Serbian Player of the Year.

Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea

Being an Arsenal fan it still pains me to see Fabregas in a Chelsea shirt but you can’t doubt the class of the Spanish playmaker.

The arrival of Fabregas for £25million signalled a huge intention for the 2014/2015 season from Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho as he looked to plug any gap in his team and cater to any need. Arsenal fans will still feel aggrieved by the fact they could have seen their former club captain return to the Emirates Stadium but Fabregas’ impact in a Chelsea shirt has been excellent.

Providing fluid passing and link-up play with his midfield counterparts, as well as forging a deadly partnership with Diego Costa is seeing him rack up assists game by game. He has become the first player to get 15 Premier League assists in two separate seasons, he is also closing in on former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in one Premier League season.

Fabregas has made 486 career club appearances, scoring 103 goals. He has made appearances for Asenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. He has also made 94 appearances for Spain’s National Team, scoring 13 goals.

He has won one FA Cup, one Community shield, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, one FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championships.

Top five right backs in the world

Philipp Lahm – Bayern Munich

Despite being listed as a right-back and being right footed, Lahm is equally adept at playing either right or left back, cutting in to pass or shoot.

He is well known for his pace, dribbling, stamina and his tackling abilities as well as his excellent reading of the game, his qualities have seen him widely regarded as the best full back in the world due to his consistently reliable displays for both club and country which saw him made captain for both.

Lahm’s club career has seen him rack up 484 appearances to date, scoring 16 goals as well as winning five Bundesliga titles, five DFB-pokal titles, two DFL-Supercups, one DFL-Ligapokal and a Champions League title. He was made Bayern Munich club captain in 2011 after the departure of Mark Van Bommel.

He has also captained the Germany national team since 2010 and he has made 98 appearances, scoring five goals.

 

Lukasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund

Yet another underrated defender in the Dortmund backline but has recently come to prominence with his performances for both Dortmund and the Polish national team.

His defensive attributes are never put in question but his real talents lie in attacking where his buccaneering runs and excellent delivery have often led to goals. Piszczek fits the mould of the modern day full back with his energy, pace and technique on the ball.

He has made 309 career club appearances, scoring 33 goals; as well as winning a Polish league title, two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has made 34 appearances for the Polish national team, as well as notching two goals.

 

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

This will probably cause controversy because he’s seen as a centre back nowadays but I will always see Sergio Ramos as a right back, despite his versatility at being able to play anywhere across the back four as well.

Ramos could be seen as the complete defender with his versatility, pace, strength, aerial ability as well as his reading of the game and signature last-ditch tackles and blocks.

To date he has made 401 club career appearances, scoring 44 goals and winning three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Supercopa de Espana titles.

Since his move from Sevilla to Real Madrid he has been an ever-present not just in the Real Madrid team but also the Spanish national team, earning his first cap aged 18, notching up 108 to date, scoring nine goals. He has been a huge part of the historic Spain team which has won a World Cup and two European Championships.

 

Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea

Ivanovic is another one on this list which is equally adept at playing in another position, providing suitable cover at centre back as well.

The big Serbian defender is known for his brute strength, pace and unbeatable aerial prowess. Whenever playing at right back he could also gallop forward and put in an excellent delivery.

Ivanovic’s fine 2012-13 season was topped off when he scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s Europa League final against Benfica in which they won 2 – 1, Ivanovic was also named man of the match in this encounter following his heroics.

He has made 347 career club appearances to date, scoring 35 goals. He has won one Russian Cup, one Premiership title, three FA Cup titles, one FA Community Shield, one Champions League and one UEFA Europa League. He has also made 61 appearances for the Serbian national thus far, notching seven goals.

 

Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City

Zabaleta has earned himself a cult hero status amongst City fans because of his commitment to the club, hard-working attitude and tenacity as well as his consistency and versatility.

Zabaleta was Man City’s Mr. Reliable this season. He was even named stand-in captain when club captain Vincent Kompany was sidelined between January and March. After a superb season he was named Manchester City’s Player of the Year as well as being in the PFA Team of the Year at right back.

He has made 340 career club appearances to date, scoring 17 goals; as well as winning an Argentinian Cup, a Copa del Rey, one Premiership title, one FA Cup, one Community Shield.

The full back has also made 31 appearances for the Argentina national team, winning an Olympic Gold Medal along the way.

 

Top five players of the 2013 Confederations Cup

The Confederations Cup was a nice little break from the agony of no football which we have had to put up with since May. Here are my top five players from the tournament and why they impressed me.

Neymar – Brazil

This is probably the most blatant name on the list. Neymar entered the Confederations Cup still with a lot of doubters due to only really making a major name for himself in his homeland of Brazil. But after a recent big money move to Barcelona people were intrigued to see the lightweight Brazilian maestro.

He didn’t disappoint; during the opening game he hammered in a terrific half volley from outside the area in just the third minute. The rest of his performances followed suit as he scored four goals in six games as well as winning the golden ball for best player of the tournament.

His performances helped guide Brazil to victory, putting a man of the match performance in for the final. He played a big part in two goals and also grabbed one of his own, one of his trademark skilful bursts also saw the sending off of Spain centre back Gerard Pique, further compounding Spain’s misery.

Emanuele Giaccherini – Italy

One of the surprise packages of the Confederations Cup was Italy’s Giaccherini. He wasn’t really in favour at club team Juventus but it is well documentede that Italy manager Cesare Prandelli doesn’t take club form into account.

Giaccherini is a shining example of Prandelli’s policy as his performances were hard-working but most importantly, a key part to Italy’s play. Deployed in a role just behind the striker meant Giaccherini could shift across in his attacking midfield role offering support for strikers or popping up on either wing.

He scored one goal over the tournament but that doesn’t reflect the hard working nature of Giaccherini’s overall play for the Italian national team – one of the major reasons Prandelli uses him so readily.

Jordi Alba – Spain

Despite being on the losing side in the final, Jordi Alba can walk out of this competition with his head held high after another set of dazzling displays which only helped further his reputation as one of the finest left backs in world football.

Alba’s constant running and blistering pace up the left hand side were a key component of Spain’s attacking play. Defensively he’s no slouch either as he played a part in two of Spain’s three clean sheets.

Alba finished the tournament with two goals of his own after a set of performances in which he flourished with his pace, stamina and defensive attributes which were more than assured.

Andres Iniesta – Spain

If there was a player anyone would want for the big occasion in centre midfield it would be Iniesta. Like Alba, he was on the losing side in the final but he was one of few players who fought until the final whistle and that added to the qualities which the playmaker no doubt possesses.

Iniesta registered no goals at the tournament but his importance to Spain’s play going forward was paramount as he consistently dictated the tempo of matches he played in. He completed 337 passes of the 390 he attempted in the entire competition.

The creative midfielder was voted man of the match during Spain’s first game of the tournament in a 2 – 1 win over Uruguay which the Spanish dominated.

David Luiz – Brazil

His defensive attributes are usually questioned at Chelsea but while playing in his home country for his national team, David Luiz seemed to turn into a defensive genius.

His time at Chelsea has been inconsistent, he can go on forays forward from the back leaving gaps, or make mistakes which get exploited but Luiz became a defensive wall with the heart of a lion for La Selecao, his tournament being encompassed in one moment by his goal-line clearance in the final against Spain.

His popularity for both club and country though will never seem to waiver as he is a fans favourite among both Chelsea and Brazil fans, his popularity even more so following his performances in this competition.