Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar: Which footballers have won the most trophies since 2000?

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Barcelona are thanking their lucky stars that Lionel Messi is still on their books this season.

It looked for all intents and purposes that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was going to turn his back on Camp Nou this summer, but the Blaugrana have held on to their star man for at least another year.

Monday marked the first time that Messi returned to Barcelona training after making a dramatic announcement last week that he didn't want to take his beloved club to court.

Messi and Barcelona

Messi stood by his criticisms of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, so everything isn't sunshine and rainbows, while essentially conceding defeat on a debate surrounding his release clause.

No doubt Manchester City will be waiting in the wings next summer if Barcelona haven't been able to twist his arm, but one extra season with Messi is still a massive advantage regardless.

Besides, we're talking about the club's all-time record goalscorer with a staggering 634 strikes and only Xavi is preventing his 731 appearances in Catalonia from all joining the record books.

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Messi's historic status

But one of the most impressive statistics surrounding Messi's career was highlighted by Transfermarkt this week and it concerns his trophy haul.

That's because the revered data website compiled a list of the most decorated footballers of the 21st century and Messi came within four trophies of winning, ultimately finishing in third.

That's a pretty astonishing achievement, especially when you consider Messi is a one-club player, but the interesting tidbits don't stop there because Transfermarkt compiled the full top 50.

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Football's serial trophy winners

So, without further ado, be sure to check out the two players that pipped Messi to the post and the other footballers, both well known and obscure, who have hoovered up silverware since 2000.

50. Mario Mandzukic - 23 titles

49. David Alaba - 23 titles

48. Blaise Matuidi - 23 titles

47. Neymar - 24 titles

46. Julio Cesar - 24 titles

45. Mohammad Al-Shalhoub - 24 titles

44. James Rodriguez - 24 titles

43. Javier Mascherano - 24 titles

42. Victor Valdes - 24 titles

41. Yaroslav Rakitskiy - 24 titles

50-41 summary

You'll start to realise that Barcelona players are something of a common theme on this list, so there's no surprises that long-term servants such as Mascherano and Valdes pop up here.

Meanwhile, it's pretty staggering to think that Neymar is more than halfway to becoming the most decorated footballer in history by the time he's 28 years old... and playing for Paris Saint-Germain.

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40. Manuel Neuer - 24 titles

39. Jerome Boateng - 24 titles

38. Deco - 25 titles

37. Edinson Cavani - 25 titles

36. Marquinhos - 25 titles

35. Luisao - 25 titles

34. Marco Verratti - 25 titles

33. Mark van Bommel - 25 titles

32. Thomas Muller - 25 titles

31. Franck Ribery - 25 titles

40-31 summary

The mid-table section is dominated by Bayern players as their stranglehold over the Bundesliga helps the likes of Boateng, Neuer, Muller, Ribery and Van Bommel to a quarter-century of titles.

Cavani joins the club with almost a decade of hoovering up silverware at the Parc des Princes, much like Verratti, while Benfica legend Luisao also makes a cameo for his success in Portugal.

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30. Iker Casillas - 25 titles

29. Gianluigi Buffon - 25 titles

28. Sergio Ramos - 26 titles

27. Carlos Tevez - 26 titles

26. Angel Di Maria - 26 titles

25. Pepe - 26 titles

24. Carles Puyol - 26 titles

23. Andriy Pyatov - 26 titles

22. Toni Kroos - 26 titles

21. Bastian Schweinsteiger - 26 titles

31-20 summary

It doesn't get much better than starting with two of the best goalkeepers of all time in Buffon and Casillas, while iconic centre-backs Puyol and Pepe also muscle their way into the top 30.

But it's another world-class central defender, Ramos, who actually finishes surprisingly far down the rankings despite having won four Champions League titles in just half a decade with Real Madrid.

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20. Thiago Motta - 27 titles

19. Fernandinho - 28 titles

18. Karim Benzema - 29 titles

17. Pedro - 29 titles

16. Darijo Srna - 29 titles

15. Emad Meteb - 30 titles

14. Thiago Silva - 30 titles

13. Thiago Alcantara - 31 titles

12. Wael Gomaa - 31 titles

11. Xavi - 32 titles

20-11 summary

We're now getting into the undisputed God tier of serial trophy winners and there's no denying that Fernandinho and Srna have Shakhtar Donetk's omnipotence in Ukraine to thank for their places amongst it.

And if you're wondering who Gomaa and Meteb are, let us enlighten you because the legendary duo of Egyptian players made collecting silverware look easy with Al Ahly in their home country.

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10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 33 titles

9. Sergio Busquets - 33 titles

8. Cristiano Ronaldo - 33 titles

7. Arjen Robben - 34 titles

6. Hossam Ashour - 34 titles

5. Gerard Pique - 36 titles

4. Maxwell - 37 titles

3. Lionel Messi - 37 titles

2. Andres Iniesta - 39 titles

1. Dani Alves - 41 titles

Top ten summary

Yes, you probably could have guessed it, but Alves takes top spot as the most decorated footballer in history across title-ladened spells with Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, Brazil and Sevilla.

Fellow Barca legend Iniesta only trails him by two plaques, while Messi is another two gongs behind and his eternal rival Ronaldo also shuffles his way into the top ten with more than 30 major honours.

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Barcelona legends dominate

It's not been all bad news at Barcelona this century, then?

Three consecutive seasons of Champions League heartbreak has given more than enough reason for Barca fans to feel a little deflated, but the last 20 years have still been pretty kind to them.

It speaks volumes that the entire top five played for Barcelona at some point in their careers, while four of the five plied their trade in Catalonia for the majority of their time in the European game. 

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And of course, shoutout to the players who, sure, haven't been winning titles as prestigious as some of the gongs in Europe, but are still worthy of praise for having been so successful in their field.

Besides, it can only be good news if you're sharing a list with Messi and although Alves and Iniesta are legends in their own right, we're not sure they can hold a candle to the current Barca skipper.

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