Messi, Xavi, Pirlo: Who has been the best playmaker since 2006?

Xavi, Iniesta and Messi in action for Barcelona

There have been so many incredible playmakers in the 21st century.

Xavi and Andres Iniesta dominated the play whenever they featured for Barcelona and Spain.

Andrea Pirlo was known for effortlessly dictating the tempo in midfield for many years up until he retired in 2017.

Nowadays, there are few midfielders that have a better passing range than Kevin De Bruyne.

While Lionel Messi, despite playing further forward, can also still control a game and create chances for his teammates at will.

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona

But who has been the best playmaker of them all?

Every year since 2006, IFFHS have been ranking the 20 best playmakers for that year.

They define a playmaker as: "The player who controls the flow of the team's offensive play, and is often involved in passing moves which lead to goals, through their vision, technique, ball control, creativity, and passing ability. The Playmaker has the same importance than a goal scorer in a team."

15 years after creating the award, they have named the 10 best playmakers in the world across that time period.

View their list below:

Andrea Pirlo in action for Italy

10. Neymar

9. Eden Hazard

8. Andrea Pirlo

7. Mesut Ozil

6. Toni Kroos

Kevin De Bruyne in action for Man City

5. Kevin De Bruyne

4. Luka Modric

3. Xavi

2. Andres Iniesta

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona

What a list of players that is.

Barcelona legends dominate the top three, with Messi, Iniesta and Xavi making up the podium places.

They are closely followed by Real Madrid's Modric and De Bruyne, who are arguably the two best midfielders in the world at the moment.

Ozil was frozen out towards the end of his spell at Arsenal but finishes in seventh, just above Pirlo.

There are two surprising inclusions at ninth and 10th. Hazard and Neymar may not be considered playmakers by some, but they must have been given plenty of points by IFFHS for the amount of assists they get every year.

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