Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho: Who is the best footballer of the 21st century?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

There have been so many great players in the 21st century.

Cristiano Ronaldo. Lionel Messi. Ronaldo Nazario. Ronaldinho. Zinedine Zidane. The list is endless.

But who has been the best player of the 2000s?

That’s a question that has been answered by thousands of football fans over on Ranker.

We’ve listed the 25 best players of the 25th century, as voted by football fans from across the world, below…

25. Clarence Seedorf

Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan).

Clarence Seedorf in action for AC Milan

24. Andriy Shevchenko

Shevchenko was a monster at AC Milan, scoring 173 goals in 296 games from 1999-2006.

23. Paul Scholes

Scholes was a mainstay of a United side that dominated the Premier League from 1993-2013.

22. Arjen Robben

A brilliant winger who, at 37 years old, still turns out for FC Groningen.

21. Samuel Eto’o

Eto’o won Champions League titles with both Barcelona and Inter Milan.

20. Steven Gerrard

A midfielder who led by example. His brilliance guided Liverpool to an unlikely comeback in the 2005 Champions League final vs AC Milan.

Steven Gerrard in action for Liverpool

19. Francesco Totti

One of the best one-club men ever. Totti appeared 786 times and scored 307 goals for Roma.

18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Now 39, Zlatan is still one of the world’s best strikers with AC Milan.

17. Alessandro Del Piero

Del Piero helped Juventus win six Serie A titles during his career.

16. Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp was a wizard. He was strong as an ox and could do anything with the ball at his feet. He is one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players.

15. Alessandro Nesta

A dominant defender, Nesta was named in the UEFA Team of the Year four times.

Alessandro Nesta in action for AC Milan

14. Iker Casillas

Casillas’ brilliance between the sticks established himself as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever.

13. Gianluigi Buffon

Buffon and Casillas were both extremely talented goalkeepers but it’s Buffon who just edges out his rival in this list.

12. Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo controlled the midfielder whenever he took to the pitch. He made everything look so easy.

11. Roberto Carlos

A solid defender who also contributed massively going forward. He took a mean set-piece.

10. Kaka

Kaka’s time at the top of the game wasn’t long, but he was arguably the world’s best player for a short while at AC Milan.

Kaka in action for Brazil

9. Thierry Henry

Henry was recently inducted to the Premier League Hall of Fame and deservedly so.

8. Xavi

Xavi, along with Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, formed a truly extraordinary midfield for Barcelona.

7. Andres Iniesta

Iniesta scored the goal that saw Spain win the World Cup in 2010.

6. Paolo Maldini

Maldini is arguably the greatest defender in history. What a player.

5. Zinedine Zidane

Zidane had everything needed to be a top midfielder.

Zinedine Zidane in action for Real Madrid

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has scored 775 goals in professional football. A truly astonishing tally for an astonishing player.

3. Ronaldo Nazario

The Brazilian was absolutely unstoppable at his peak. Unfortunately, significant injuries took its toll.

2. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho had every trick in the book. He was a joy to watch.

1. Lionel Messi

No surprise that Messi finishes top of the list. What he has done since making his debut for Barcelona in 2003 has been truly remarkable.

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona

There have been so many incredible players this century. Massive names including Fabio Cannavaro, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Ramos and Neymar all miss out on the top 25.

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