Much is said about the rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as who is the best player in the world right now.
While they are the two greatest at present, there are many more lurking in the shadows to follow in their paths. Here's a look at arguably the top ten players in world football today.
10. Robert Lewandowski | Borussia Dortmund
The Polish striker is one of the hottest properties in world football at the moment. His four goals against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final first leg earned Borussia Dortmund a date with domestic rivals Bayern Munich at Wembley on the 20th of May to decide who will become the champions of Europe this season. With ten goals in the tournament this season, it's easy to see why some of the world's biggest clubs have Lewandowski on their radar.
It's not just the Champions League where the striker has shined as his form in the Bundesliga has been fantastic to say the least. He is currently the league's top scorer with 23 goals in 27 appearances which included a run of scoring in 12 consecutive matches during the current campaign. Lewandowski's contract runs out next summer and the striker has stated he has no plans to renew it which suggests that Borussia Dortmund will want to cash in even if it means losing their star player.
A number of top European clubs are reportedly interested in capturing the striker's signature. Among them are Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester United. One thing remains certain, whichever club are successful in signing the Polish striker they will be adding one of the best strikers in the world today to their team.
9. Gareth Bale | Tottenham Hotspur
A couple of years ago, Tottenham considered selling Bale after early promise following signing from Southampton, he'd failed to live up to his potential. Now, the Welsh winger is considered the best player in the Premier League. He received the PFA Players Player of the Year award for the second time in his career as well as the PFA Young Player of the Year for his staggering performances for the London club this season. With constant speculation surrounding his future, it may not be long before we see Bale lining up for Barcelona or Real Madrid.
There has been speculation linking the Welshman to both Spanish clubs in the past, particularly since he was named the PFA Player of the Year in 2011. No doubt Tottenham's key player, Bale has scored 24 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions this season and 19 of these have been in the Premier League meaning there's still an outside chance he could win the golden boot at the end of the current campaign.
Following the departures of Luka Modric to Real Madrid and Rafael van der Vaart to Hamburg, many people questioned whether Tottenham still had the credentials to challenge for a Champions League spot this season. With that Bale has really stepped up his game and has had his best campaign yet. With his side two points behind rivals Arsenal in the battle for fourth place, we could yet see Bale give more full backs nightmares when the Champions League commences in September, as Maicon and Inter Milan will remember.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Paris St. Germain
He may have had more clubs than Tiger Woods, but the Big Swede's record of winning trophies at every side he's played with makes him one of the most valuable players in the world right now. He looks set to win Ligue 1 with current club Paris St. Germain this season and is the top scorer in the league with 27 goals. Since joining Ajax in 2001, the striker has won the Eredivisie twice, the Serie A four times (three with Inter Milan, one with A.C. Milan) and La Liga once with Barcelona.
Ibrahimovic boasts a fantastic strike rate, scoring on a ratio of one every two games as well as being somewhat of a creative genius, providing more than 100 assists throughout his career thus far. While he is often criticised for his work rate during matches, he regularly pulls off a moment of brilliance even on a bad day. His goals against France at the European Championship and against England in a friendly last year exemplify the striker's superior technique and finishing.
When Ibrahimovic joined PSG last summer he became the most expensive player in combined transfer fees of all time. A total of €180 million has been paid for the striker throughout his career. However it seems like money well spent by the French club as the forward's goals have been key to the Paris side's domestic success this season.
7. Franck Ribery | Bayern Munich
Possibly the best French player of his generation, Franck Ribery has been instrumental in helping Bayern Munich surge to the Bundesliga title and also the final of the Champions League at Wembley later this month. Known for his pace, energy, skill and accurate passing, the French winger has no doubt been one of the best players in the world over the last few years.
He doesn't grab the headlines like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but if Bayern are to lift the giant Champions League trophy come the 20th of May then they have a lot to thank Ribery for. He proved his class during his side's 7-0 aggregate win over Barcelona in the semi final of the competition. The likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi could only watch as the Frenchman broke away at speed to create endless opportunities for his teammates which ultimately helped the German side earn a place in the final against domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund.
You know you're something special when the legendary Zinedine Zidane considers you to be the ''jewel of French football.'' Having scored more than 50 goals for Bayern as well as providing over 100 assists in six years with the newly crowned Bundesliga champions, it's not hard to see why.
6. Radamel Falcao | Atletico Madrid
Known as the king of the Europa League, Radamel Falcao is arguably the deadliest striker in the world at present. Having been listed for the FIFA XI team of 2012, Falcao has continued his great goal-scoring form this season with 32 goals from 36 appearances in all competitions. His goal to games ratio is outstanding particularly since his days with Porto as he won the Europa League with Portuguese side and was the top scorer with 17 goals in 14 games during that campaign.
No less impressive was his triumph in the same competition with current club, Atletico Madrid. Winning the Europa League following a 3-0 over domestic rivals, Athletic Bilbao, Falcao was once again top scorer with 12 goals which earned him his nickname.
Falcao has been often speculated with a move to Chelsea who are still desperate for a prolific striker. The Colombian would certainly add more goals to the London club and is capable of great things, as he showed against The Blues in the Super Cup last year, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win. Possibly the greatest natural striker in the world at the moment and come this summer he could be featuring for one of Europe's top teams.
5. Xavi | Barcelona
The pass master and the key to both Spain and Barcelona's recent success. Xavi is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation and maybe even of all time. Xavi is the orchestrator and makes the space which gives Lionel Messi the freedom to score goals at will. He has been selected in the UEFA team of the year five times in a row and has been as influential as always with Barcelona looking set to regain the La Liga title.
A one club man, Xavi has spent his entire career with Barcelona joining the Catalan club's first team in 1998. He has played more than 650 games for the side alongside the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o, Andres Iniesta, Patrick Kluivert and of course Lionel Messi. Xavi was at the peak of his powers when Pep Guardiola was managing the club and used the Spanish midfielder as a playmaker who created opportunities repeatedly for his team.
Xavi also has 120 caps for Spain and remains an integral part of the international team even at the age of 33. It will be a long time before we see another player like Xavi with that kind of vision, stamina and ability to create chances.
4. Robin van Persie | Manchester United
The Dutchman has picked up with Manchester United right where he left off with Arsenal. Last season's Premier League top scorer with 30 goals is on course to retain the golden boot with 25 goals this term. None were more dramatic than his hat-trick against Aston Villa as United won the league for a 20th time and with it, Van Persie won the first Premier League title of his career.
Following a controversial move from North London to Manchester in August last year, the striker scored his first goal at Old Trafford in 3-2 win over Fulham. Van Persie added some much needed class to the United attack and helped the club leapfrog rivals Manchester City at the Premier League's summit.
Struggling with injuries prior to last season, Van Persie has finally realised his full potential and has become in my view the best natural striker in the world. With 29 goals and eight assists in all competitions so far this season, Van Persie despite costing £24 million for a player approacing 30-years-old has been money spent very well by Sir Alex Ferguson.
3. Andres Iniesta | Barcelona
The Spanish national team's key player is arguably the best midfielder in the world today. His goal against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final cemented his place in the history books and at the end of last year he was voted third in the running for the Ballon d'Or, which was ultimately won by teammate Lionel Messi.
Iniesta has been considered as one of the greatest midfielders to ever play for the Catalan club and has been selected for the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFA World XI the last four years in a row. He looks set to win his sixth La Liga title with Barcelona this season and was also named the player of the tournament in Spain's truimph at the European Championship last year.
His partnership with Xavi in the middle of midfield for club and country has proved formidable and pivotal to the recent success of both Barcelona and Spain. Iniesta will no doubt be a key figure for his country at the World Cup in Brazil next year.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid
The 28 year old's goal record for Spanish giants Real Madrid is nothing short of phenomenal. Averaging more than a goal a game with 197 strikes in 195 matches. Despite Los Blancos being knocked out of the Champions League semi final by Borussia Dortmund, Ronaldo remains the competition's top scorer this season with 12 goals.
He continues to have an ongoing rivalry with Lionel Messi for world's best player and although it is the Argentine forward that usually comes out on top, the Portuguese winger is certainly not far behind. He received the Ballon d'Or award during his playing days with Manchester United and has been voted Portuguese footballer of the year on the last eight occasions.
Need I mention that Ronaldo is the most expensive player in history following an £80 million from Old Trafford to the Santiago Bernabeu. His 60 league goals for Los Blancos last season helped him to a first La Liga trophy and although Barcelona look set to regain the league title this year, Ronaldo's Real will be hungry for success once again next term.
1. Lionel Messi | Barcelona
Hardly surprising who is number one when you think of all he has achieved in a relatively short career so far. Messi is consistently rated as the best player in the world at present and one of the greatest of all time. There are many reasons why, when Messi plays well Barcelona plays well which often leads to the Catalan club being labelled as a one man team. Yes they do have other great players, but Messi has been the catalyst to the club's success both domestically and in Europe.
A four time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi has received the award on the last four occasions which is a record as well as being selected for the FIFA World XI for the last six years running. The Argentine forward also holds the record for most goals scored in a calendar year with an incredible 91 in all competitions for club and country in 2012. He also became the first player ever to score against every team in La Liga when he netted against Celta Vigo in March earlier this year.
A niggling hamstring injury has kept Messi from reaching the kind of heights of last season, yet he still has 58 goals in all competitions. He was an innocent bystander as Bayern Munich emphatically knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League semi final with a 7-0 aggregate win. Messi however remains the best player in the world and I think it will be a long time before anyone dethrones the Argentine superstar.
Who do you think are the best ten players in the world today? Have your say below.
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