This is the fifth 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. For the sake of convenience, CMs, CDMs, LMs, RMs, and CAMs will all be clubbed together in this category.
5) David Silva: The elegant and graceful midfielder who possesses the utmost precision, spent the entire decade with Manchester City. He has won 14 trophies for the Citizens apart from winning a Euro Cup and a FIFA World Cup for Spain. He has been a member of the PFA Team of the Year 3 times, Euro Team of the Tournament, and ESM Team of the Season once. He has also won the Manchester City Player of the Season once and was the highest assist provider in the Premier League in 2011-12. He left City after 77 goals and 140 assists in 436 appearances.
4) Toni Kroos: The German central midfielder spent the first 4 years of the decade with Bayern Munich and the remaining years with Real Madrid. He has won 21 trophies for the two sides in this timeframe along with a FIFA World Cup for Germany. He has been a member of the UCL Squad of the Season 5 times, FIFA FIFPro World XI 3 times, UEFA Team of the Year 3 times, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team and FIFA World Cup Dream Team once, La Liga Team of the Season twice, Euro Team of the Tournament and IFFHS World Team once. He has also been awarded IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker and German Player of the Year. He has finished the decade with 44 goals and 113 assists for club and country.
3) Luka Modric: The Croatian midfielder spent the first 2 years of the decade with Tottenham and the remaining with Real Madrid. He has won 16 trophies for the latter in 8 years. He has been selected in the Euro Team of the Tournament once, UCL Team of the Season 4 times, FIFA FIFPro World XI 5 times, La Liga Team of the Season once, UEFA Team of the Year 3 times, IFFHS World Team twice, and FIFA World Cup Fantasy Team once. Individually, he has won Tottenham Player of the Year once, La Liga Best Midfielder twice, ESPN Midfielder of the Year thrice, UEFA Midfielder of the Season twice, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, The Best FIFA Men’s player, IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker, World Soccer Player of the Year, Golden Foot and a Ballon d’Or. He has also been the Croatian Footballer of the Year 8 times, 6 of which came in the last decade. He started the new decade with 47 goals and 85 assists for club and country in the last one.
2) Andres Iniesta: The technically gifted Spaniard has spent 16 years at Barcelona, 8 of which were in the last decade, and spent the last 2 playing for Vissel Kobe of Japan. He has won 22 trophies for the two teams from 2010 to 20 as well as a Euro Cup and a FIFA World Cup for his country. As far as the decade is concerned, he has been a part of Euro Team of the Tournament once, FIFA FIFPro World XI 8 times, UEFA Team of the Year 5 times, FIFA World Cup Dream Team once, ESM Team of the Year twice, UCL Team of the Season twice, UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year, La Liga Team of the Season, France Football World XI, UEFA Euro All-Time XI and J. League Best XI. He has won the La Liga Best Midfielder 4 times, UEFA Best Player in Europe and Euro Player of the Tournament once, IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker twice, FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Ball, La Liga Top Assist Provider, and Golden Foot once and was the runner-up in the 2010 Ballon d’Or. He registered 52 goals and 122 assists for club and country throughout the decade.
1) Sergio Busquets: The only CDM in this list, Busquets has spent the entire decade with Barcelona. He has won 24 trophies for his club and country in this period, registering 13 goals and 41 assists. Neither his stats nor his individual accolades look as illustrious as the other members in this list. But Busquets’ vitality in the team went beyond stats and involvements in goals and assists. As Vicente Del Bosque had once said about the Spaniard, “If you watch the whole game, you won't see Busquets—but watch Busquets, and you will see the whole game.” Maintaining the tempo of the game, controlling the midfield, keeping the possession intact, preventing loss of momentum, breaking up opponent’s attack and gameplay with tackles and interceptions, and establishing an unbreakable link with the defense – Sergio Busquets has been the lifeline of the team in every way possible.