Football

Top Ten: Best wingers in the world

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Bale is the third best winger in the world right now. (©GettyImages)
Bale is the third best winger in the world right now. (©GettyImages).

Playing on the wing is a difficult skill to master in the modern game. 

Tasked with providing skillful crosses for the forwards, or cutting in to score themselves as well as providing defensive cover to their full-backs, the job of the winger can be extremely taxing. 

Here we take a look at the players who have come closest to mastering this difficult task, as we take a look at the best wingers in world football at the moment.

Notable mentions:

Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott (both Arsenal), Oscar (Chelsea), Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Bayer Levrkusen), Isco (Malaga), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germaine), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg)

10. Angel Di Maria | Real Madrid 

Argentine winger Di Maria has been one of the better performers for Madrid over the past two years, with the wideman particularly impressing in his ability to perform when it is most needed. 

A player who likes to put in crosses as well as provide through balls for his forwards, the 25 year old has been one of the most effective players on the capital club's roster. In fact, Di Maria has been one of the biggest portals of attack on the counter for Real Madrid. 

9. Stephan El Shaarawy | AC Milan 

Towards the beginning of this season, AC Milan were staggering and lifeless. They were bailed out by a once-in-a-century rise of a 19 year old, who practically single handedly won them matches with his stunning play. 

As much a striker as he is a winger, El Shaarawy was Milan's hero as he scored 15 goals in an amazing first half of the season. And even though a goal drought ensued with the Italian scoring only one goal since the arrival of Mario Balotelli in January, El Shaarawy still maintained high standards for his game, and was a constantly marked man. 

The youngster's exploits were also noticed by national team coach Cesare Prandelli, and his performances have made sure that he is a regular member of the Azzurri squad at the young age of 20.

8. Arjen Robben | Bayern Munich

The much maligned Arjen Robben is in fact one of the best wingers in world football at the moment. Even though he has a tendency to go for glory himself rather than opt for the unselfish pass, there can be no doubting Robben's ability, with the Dutchman being central to Bayern's treble winning season this year. A pacy defender who is very strong in dribbling and cutting in from the flank to carve out chances for his team, Robben was instrumental in Bayern's race to Champions League glory this season.

7. Pedro Rodriguez | Barcelona

This season, Spanish winger Pedro firmly established his status as one of the best wingers in world football today. Capable of playing on either wing, with two good feet,  Pedro is as much a creator as he is a scorer of goals - even though it fails to get noticed in a Barcelona side full of creative geniuses. 

A player who likes to keep things simple, with simple layoffs and short passes, Pedro has been extremely effective for the Catalan side. Pedro also shined for his nation this season, and is so far Spain's highest scorer in 2013. 

6. Neymar | Barcelona 

Brazil's poster boy Neymar is not a proven performer in one of Europe's top leagues, but his performances for both club and country make him more than eligible for a spot on this list. A player typically of the mould of the Seleccao, the new Barcelona signing is one of the most talented players in world football today. 

Neymar, apart from having one of the most extensive skill set in the sport, is also equally adept at providing crosses as well as cutting in to the center to score himself. With one of the most exciting talents in world football having joined them, Barcelona can expect great things from this youngster.

5. Eden Hazard | Chelsea

The Belgian winger had a terrific first season in English football where he was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award. A player with an impressive array of skills to complement his superb peripheral vision and accurate passing, Eden Hazard has proved to be worth every penny that Chelsea paid for him, if not more. 

Hazard also formed an impressive partnership with teammates Juan Mata and Oscar in what was one of the most fearsome attacking partnerships in the league. He also chipped in with nine goals and 11 assists for the Blues in a season where he helped them win the Europa League crown.

4. Marco Reus | Borussia Dortmund

Part of a highly impressive advanced midfield lineup at Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus has been in delightful form this season. Equally capable of playing on either wing or through the center, Reus has been one of the standout performers for Dortmund this season, as they went all the way to the Champions League final. 

Playing a direct brand of football, Reus has been exceptionally good at finding spaces behind the wingbacks, and in exploiting them as well. He is also a good crosser of the ball, as well as being a definite threat in dead ball situations.


3. Gareth Bale | Tottenham Hotspur

Two time PFA Player of the Year Gareth Bale has been one of the most impressive players in recent times. Initially a left back, a change in position proved to be a masterstroke as the player developed to become a complete package in the left wing for Tottenham. 

Being an extremely good crosser and distance shooter, Bale was easily the best player for Spurs this season. Having scored 21 goals and provided 4 assists in the league this season, the Welshman is indeed one of the best wingers in the world. And at 23 years of age, he can only get better.

2. Franck Ribery | Bayern Munich


Another Bayern Munich winger makes an appearance on the list, with Frenchman Ribery being even more impressive over the course of the past few seasons than teammate Robben. The naturally right footed left winger was arguably the best player for Bayern in their record breaking season. Combining crude pace with blatant effectiveness and a composed head, Ribery often proved unstoppable. 

He was an integral part of Bayern's attacking unit and gave 14 assists in the Bundesliga season apart from scoring 10 goals, including a hattrick in the last game of the season. He was also one of the most impressive crossers of the ball in the team, as well as the player with the most number of succesful dribbles in the league.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo needs no introduction. With blistering pace and impeccable technique, the 28 year old always proves to be a handful for the opposition defenders. One of the best players ever in the history of the sport, the Portuguese captain was again in blistering form this season as he plundered 34 goals in 30 starts for Real Madrid in the league this season. 

To add to this, Ronaldo also gave 10 assists in what was yet another impressive season from the former Manchester United player. Also, the left winger was the highest scorer in the Champions League, scoring 12 goals.


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Topics:
Ronaldo
Football
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Gareth Bale
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