This is the sixth article in a series looking at the top 5 footballers in each position in the last decade. Those will ultimately be combined to form the best starting XI of the last decade. It has to be mentioned that a footballer’s overall impact for the maximum number of years in the decade is to be considered.
5) Jakub Blaszczykowski: The Polish winger spent the first six years of the decade playing for Borussia Dortmund including a one year loan spell for Fiorentina, followed by short stints for Wolfsburg and Wisla Krakow. He has won 5 trophies for Dortmund in the decade and has also won Polish Footballer of the Year and Poland Football Team’s Best Player awards. The impactful and dextrous attacker finished the decade with 61 goals and 66 assists for club and country.
4) Angel Di Maria: The Argentine has also played as a CAM but predominantly as a right winger. He featured for Real Madrid during the first 4 years of the decade which was followed by an unsuccessful single year stay at Manchester United. He spent the latter half of the decade featuring for Paris Saint Germain. He won 21 trophies for Real and PSG throughout the decade and has featured in the UCL Team of the Season, FIFA World Cup Dream Team, UEFA Team of the Year, FIFA FIFPro World XI, ESM Team of the Year and Ligue 1 Team of the Year. He emerged as the top assist provider of UCL in 2019-20. He registered 141 goals and 212 assists in the decade for club and country.
3) Gareth Bale: The Welsh wizard has spent 7 years at Real Madrid while the first three years of the decade were spent at Tottenham. He has won 13 trophies for Los Blancos and has featured in UEFA Team of the Year twice, UCL Squad of the Season and ESM Team of the Year once, The Football Manager Team of the Decade once and PFA Team of the Year thrice. He has also won Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Year once, Welsh Footballer of the Year 6 times, PFA Player’s Player of the Year twice, PFA Young Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season. Bale finished the decade with 186 goals and 122 assists for club and country.
2) Arjen Robben: The tremendously talented Dutchman has spent almost the entire decade with Bayern Munich and joined Groningen only in 2020. He has won 19 trophies throughout the period and has been a member of UEFA Team of the Year twice, ESM Team of the Year, UCL Team of the Season, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team and FIFA FIFPro World XI. Adding to these, he has won the DFB Footballer of the Year, The Kicker Man of the Year and Dutch Sportsman of the Year. He scored 147 goals and 113 assists for Bayern and Netherlands in 10 years.
1) Lionel Messi: Often regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi needs no introduction. He has spent the entirety of his career playing for Barcelona and Argentina at the senior level. A look at his accolades within this timeframe is all that is required to solidify his place at the top. 22 of the trophies that he has won in his club career has come within the last decade. As far as the timeframe is concerned, he has featured in the FIFA FIFPro World XI 10 times, UEFA Team of the Year 9 times, La Liga Team of the Season twice, Copa America Dream Team thrice, UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year, FIFA World Cup Dream Team, Argentina Football Association Team of All Time and World Soccer Greatest XI of all time. 5 out of his 6 Ballon d’Ors came in the last decade along with which there is FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, The Best FIFA Men’s Player, European Golden Shoe 5 times out of his career 6, Copa America Golden Ball, 2 times UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, UEFA Club Forward of the Year, La Liga Best Player 4 times out of his total 6, La Liga Best Forward 5 times out of 7, Pichichi Trophy 6 out of his total tally of 7, IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker 4 times and 7 out of his 11 Argentine Footballer of the Year awards have come in the last decade. He amassed a whopping 564 goals and 252 assists throughout the decade.