This is the seventh 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 on the maximum number of years in the decade is to be considered.
5) Franck Ribery: The veteran French winger spent almost the entire decade with Bayern Munich and left the club only in 2019 for Fiorentina. He has won 18 trophies for the Bavarian side within the timeframe. He has also featured in the ESM Team of the Year, UEFA Team of the Year, FIFA FIFPro World XI, and Kicker Bundesliga Team of the Season thrice. Ribery has won UEFA Best Player in Europe, UCL Top Assist Provider, Bundesliga top assist provider thrice, Bundesliga Player of the Year, The Kicker Man of the Year, Globe Soccer Best Footballer of the Year, DFB Pokal Top Assist Provider, Fiorentina Player of the Season and came third in the 2013 Ballon d’Or. He finished the decade with 96 goals and 149 assists for club and country.
4) Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean international started the decade with his last year for Udinese, followed by a 3-year stint with Barcelona. He spent the latter half of the decade playing for Arsenal, Manchester United, and finally a loan spell for Inter Milan. He has won 9 trophies throughout the decade for Barcelona and Arsenal as well as 2 Copa America titles for Chile. He has featured in the PFA Team of the Year and Copa America Team of the Tournament. Individually, he has won Arsenal Player of the Season twice, PFA Fan’s Player of the Year, FSF Player of the Year, Copa America Golden Ball, and Confederations Cup Silver Ball. He scored 180 goals and 145 assists in these 10 years.
3) Eden Hazard: The extremely talented Belgian has played for the likes of Lille, Chelsea, and Real Madrid throughout the decade. He has won 9 trophies for the 3 clubs and has featured in Ligue 1 Team of the Year twice, FIFA FIFPro World XI twice, PFA Premier League Team of the Year 4 times, UEFA Team of the Year twice, Europa League Squad of the Season, ESM Team of the Year twice, FIFA World Cup Fantasy Team and IFFHS Men’s World Team. He has won Europa League Player of the Season, Ligue 1 Player of the Year twice, FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season, PFA Fan’s Player of the Year, Belgium Player of the Year thrice, Chelsea Player of the Year 4 times, Chelsea Player’s Player of the Year twice, FIFA World Cup Silver Ball and Premier League Playmaker of the Season. He registered 177 goals and 165 assists throughout the decade for club and country.
2) Neymar: A generational talent in the proper sense of the term, Neymar has been an epitome of success. He spent the first 3 years of the decade playing for his boyhood club Santos in Brazil. A lucrative move to Barcelona followed along with a spell with his current club Paris Saint Germain. He has won 22 trophies for the 3 clubs apart from winning the South American Youth Championship in 2011 and FIFA Confederations Cup for Brazil in 2013. He has been selected in the Campeonato Brasileiro Team of the Year thrice, FIFA Confederations Cup Dream Team, FIFA World Cup Dream Team, UCL Squad of the Season twice, Ligue 1 Team of the Year twice, UEFA Team of the Year, FIFA FIFPro World XI twice, IFFHS Men’s World Team and ESM Team of the Year. He has won the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A Player of the Year, Copa Libertadores Most Valuable Player, South American Footballer of the Year twice, FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball, Samba Gold thrice, La Liga Best World Player, and Ligue 1 Player of the Year. Neymar amassed a whopping 289 goals and 183 assists in the last decade for club and country.
1) Cristiano Ronaldo: The decade as a whole belonged to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Messi got the top spot in the article looking at the top 5 right-wingers of the last decade, Ronaldo finishing first in the category of left-wingers was inevitable. The greatest Portuguese footballer of all time has spent 8 years of the decade at Real Madrid followed by Juventus. He has won 18 trophies for the 2 clubs as well as a Euro Cup and UEFA Nations League for Portugal. He has been selected in FIFA FIFPro World XI 10 times out of his total 13, UEFA Team of the Year 10 times out of 14, UCL Squad of the Season 6 times, Euro Cup Team of the Tournament twice out of 3, UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year, UEFA Nations League Team of the Tournament, FIFA World Cup Dream Team, La Liga Team of the Season thrice, Pichichi Trophy thrice and Serie A Team of the Year. He has won 4 Ballon d’Ors out of his career 5, The Best FIFA Men’s Player twice, UEFA Best Player in Europe thrice, PFA Portuguese Player of the Year 4 times, European Golden Shoe 3 times out of 4, Euro Cup Silver Boot, La Liga Best Player, La Liga Best Forward, La Liga Most Valuable Player and Serie A Footballer of the Year. He accumulated an unreal 561 goals and 160 assists throughout the decade.