The 10 best dribblers in world football

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Following Cavani's superb dribble for PSG, GMS compiles a list of the best dribblers currently playing:

10) Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano tiptoes into the list in 10th place. Many will argue he is number 1, but whilst Ronaldo has an enviable repertoire of tricks and flicks, he rarely uses them to go past more than one defender.

As he has evolved from teenage show pony to goalscoring machine, his dribbling is perhaps the only area of his game that diminished.

In his earlier years at United, a lighter weight incarnation of Cristiano was far more likely to slalom through crowds of defenders than he is now.

He still has the ability to breeze past players with a step-over and explosion of pace, but his upright running style does not have the same finesse as those further on in the list.

9) Di Maria

Ronaldo’s chief assailant at Real Madrid.

The Argentine’s mazy runs whilst at Benfica initially earned him Messi comparisons.

He is not of the same ilk as Messi but he is of similar style. Speed, agility and delicate touches of his left foot combine to make stopping him in full flight a real challenge.

His wafer light physique lacks the balance of his more esteemed compatriot, and he has a greater tendency to end his runs face down in the mud, pleading for a response from officials.

Yet, when in form, he is a genuinely world class winger and dribbler.

8) Robben

Were he not plagued by injuries for most of his career, there is a good chance Robben would have extended the Ronaldo vs Messi rivalry into a triumvirate.

Whenever consistently fit, he establishes himself as one of the world’s best.

His pace and direct running wreaked havoc in his first Premier League season for Chelsea in 2005.

For a period in 2009, he was Real Madrid’s answer to Messi, speeding along the right flank, cutting onto his left foot and firing into the far corner.

Now 29, Robben is enjoying a renaissance at Bayern, and while everyone in the Allainz Arena knows exactly what he’s going to do when he receives the ball, few defenders can stop him.

7) RIbery

For the full-back relieved to see Robben lining up on the opposite flank, there comes a nightmare just as frightening: Franck Ribery.

The Frenchman is a genuine Ballon d’Or contender and a magician with the ball at his feet.

Similarly to Robben, he boasts speed, agility, and a tendency to cut in onto his stronger foot, but Ribery allies these attributes with an impressive arsenal of skills.

6) Lucas Moura

The Brazilian winger has the same crouched running style of 1950s legend Garrincha. His explosive pace and dazzling combination of elasticos, stepovers, and chops have left defenders in France and around Europe bamboozled.

Despite featuring less frequently this season, he was a revelation in his first year at PSG.

His sharp change of direction had immediate effect in the Champions League as he left two Valencia defenders grounded before assisting on his debut.

The extent of his ability to control the ball whilst dashing at speed was illustrated by the headaches he gave to Barcelona left-back, Jordi Alba, himself no slouch.

5) Sergio Aguero

Whilst most Argentine attackers are pressured by comparisons to Maradona - or more recently Messi - Gary Neville has led a number of pundits comparing Aguero to Romario.

Whether he is yet in the same class is debatable, but the stylistic similarities are apparent.

Exceptional movement and an eye for goal of course, but more predominantly the incredibly low centre of gravity, the explosive first 5 yards, and the balance.

When Aguero arrows towards goal with the ball glued to his feet not even the most robust or malicious challenge is enough to cause him to deviate from his target.

Almost any other player would have collapsed in the box under the challenge and pressure he faced in that 93rd minute of the 2012 Premier League season.

He stood up to it and smashed home to earn Manchester City’s first Premier League title. He then scored a replica solo dribble against Manchester United last season.

4) Neymar

The current supreme exhibitor of the art of showboat.

Speed of thought and speed of movement (linear and lateral) power his darting runs that are rich with silky skills and samba style.

He is Ronaldinho’s heir apparent on the left side of Barcelona’s attack but had already garnered a sizeable following as a result of his impudent tricks and amazing solo goals for Santos. Neymar’s dribbling style is situated in the middle ground of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - the Argentine’s deceptive body movements and feints fused with the tricks that had already made famous by the original Ronaldo.

Stepovers, pannas, elasticos, somberos, Neymar has dared to try every trick in the book.

3) Andres Iniesta

At its best dribbling is simple art. Iniesta encapsulates this.

With none of the extravagance of the likes of Neymar and CR7, Iniesta is capable of producing sequences of skill that are more mesmerising and humiliating to his opponents than anything the flashier types could imagine.

Incredibly quick feet, an instinctive appreciation of space and his opponent’s body shape, and a lethal burst of acceleration allow Iniesta to escape the attentions of the world’s best midfield bruisers.

There is always an aura of grace and control as he La Croquetas his way through a tunnel of defenders or spins away from a duo of markers.

His ability to take opponents out of the game with a dribble is a key ingredient in transitioning tiki taka from an exercise in possession to a penetrative weapon.

Incisive assists, like for Messi’s goal against Arsenal in 2011, often follow a magical run.

2) Luis Suarez

Slapping away the World Cup hopes of Ghana, and the entire African continent. Repetitively snarling racial taunts at Patrice Evra. Tearing his protruding canines into Ivanovic’s flesh.

There are many emblematic images of Luis Suarez.

None are more frightening for defenders and exhilarating for the fans than the Uruguay striker twisting, turning and jinking in and around the box.

Suarez has an uncanny ability to take the ball into the tightest maize or cramped assortment of bodies and emerges with ball still under control.

He seems to possess a sixth sense that anticipates the glimmer of an opening for a nutmeg as the likes of David Luiz, John Terry and even Milan legend, Alessandro Nesta, can all testify.

Until the arrivals of Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho in January, Suarez usually took it upon himself to do it all alone when attacking for Liverpool, and his masterful dribbling meant he was often successful.

1) Lionel Messi

Who else?

The average dribbler probably throws more step-overs in a single game than Messi has in his entire career, yet it is Messi who is more likely to beat the defender.

His instinctive body feints leave defenders bewildered, his powerful acceleration leaves them behind, and his sudden change of direction leaves them slipping to the turf.

Maradona’s heir has continued the legacy of gambetta (a dribbling technique attributed to Maradona), using the snake-like contortions of his hips and shoulders to induce a hypnotic effect on opponents from Nani to Roberto Carlos.

Messi’s deftness of touch allows him to sprint with ball always in his grasp while his incredible balance allows him to navigate through gangs of defenders.

His clone of Maradona’s second goal versus England, scored against Getafe, will serve as a key part of the four time Ballon d’Or winners legend.

Almost as impressive are solo efforts against Madrid in 2011, and Valencia and Zaragoza in 2010.

Note - A special mention to Ronaldinho, who at his best was arguably better than each player on this list and does continue to dazzle back home in Brazil, albeit slightly less spectacularly.

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Franck Ribery
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo
Arjen Robben
Sergio Aguero
Luis Suarez

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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