This list comprises the top ten best soccer players who are currently still playing in the world’s top leagues. If it was a list of the best soccer players ever there is no doubt who would top the list — Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to soccer fans everywhere as Pele. The Brazilian former player is now 75 years old but he is regarded by many soccer experts, players and fans and the greatest player that ever lived.
Also on the list would be Diego Maradona who at 53 is still playing for Deportivo Riestra in the fifth tier league of his home country Argentina. Soccer is very much in the news in 2014 with the sport’s World Cup being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Soccer is also known as the Beautiful Game — and below are the players that demonstrate best why that is. Let’s look at the top ten best soccer players in the world right now, counting down to number one.
10 Sergio Aguero
Argentinian star Aguero plays for the English Premier League club Manchester City as well as the Argentine national team. On July 5, 2003, he became the youngest player to make his debut in the Argentine Primera Division at the age of 15 years and 35 days, breaking Maradona’s 1976 record. He always uses his nickname Jun when he plays and has it on his shirt. He moved to Manchester City in July 2011 and in 2012 he won Manchester City’s Player of the Year Award voted for by the fans.
He is currently Manchester City’s highest goal scorer in European competitions. In 2009 he married Diego Maradona’s youngest daughter Giannina and on February 19, 2009, their son Benjamin was born and Maradona was present for the birth of his first grandson. The couple separated in 2013 and Benjamin lives with his mother in Buenos Aires. Aguero has a tattoo on his left arm with his son’s name and date of birth.
9 Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez is a Uruguayan national who plays for his country’s national team as well as for the English Premier League team Liverpool. He is very proud to be a member of the Liverpool squad and has even taught his three-year-old daughter to sing all the words of the Liverpool anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone. Born in 1987, Suarez made his first team debut against Junior de Barronquille when he was 18 and helped Nacionale win the 2005-6 Uruguayan League with 10 goals in 27 games.
He then moved to the Netherlands to play for Groningen and transferred to Ajax Amsterdam a year later where he was named as their Player of the Year in 2008-9. He transferred to Liverpool in January 2011 for 26.5 million euros ($37million). At the age of 14 he joined his local side Nacional’s youth team and a year later he was red carded for head-butting the referee. When he was also caught drinking and partying his coach threatened he would never play again unless he took soccer seriously and this hit home and put him on the road to success.
Suarez has not been without incident on the pitch since, though. In April 2013 he was handed a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during a game. It came after he was suspended for seven games in November 2010 for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax.
Xavier Hernandez i Creus, always known as Xavi, is a one-club man — having joined FC Barcelona’s Youth Academy at the age of 11 and been there ever since. The only other team he has played for is the Spanish national team and he plays as a central midfielder for both. Xavi made such rapid progress at the academy and in Barcelona’s junior teams that he was promoted to the Barcelona B team in the 1997-98 season and helped them gain promotion to the second division.
He made his official debut in the first team in the Spanish Super Cup against Mallorca in the summer of 1998. While training on December 2, 2005, Xavi tore the ligaments in his left knee but such was his determination he was back playing again within five months. He has been one of Spain’s outstanding players in recent years having played in three World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010 when they won the trophy, as well as three European Championships in 2004, 2008 when Spain won, and 2012.
7 Gareth Bale
Welshman Gareth Bale has a good pedigree as he is the nephew of former Cardiff City star Chris Pike. He was spotted by a talent scout for Southampton FC when he was just nine years old and playing in a six-a-side tournament with his first club Cardiff Civil Service FC. He began his career at Southampton and earned a reputation for being a specialist in the free kick. In 2007 he moved to Tottenham Hotspur and he became an integral member of the team.
Bale was named in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2011 and 2013 and during the 2012-13 Season he won the PFA Young Player of the Year, the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and the FIFA Player of the Year. In September 2013 he transferred to Spain’s Real Madrid but he still plays for the Welsh national team.
His full name is Neymar da Silvar Santos Junior but he is always known as Neymar. He plays for his home country Brazil’s national team as well as Barcelona, who he signed for when he was 21 — their first signing of the 2013/14 season. Neymar began his career at Santos in 2003 when he was 11 years old and quickly stood out because of his natural talent. In 2009 he was the leading scorer in the Brazilian Cup with 11 goals and was named Player of the Tournament.
He first represented Brazil in the Under 17 Championships in 2009 and he made his International debut in a friendly against USA. Although he was still only 18, he scored a goal. Neymar has been highlighted as one of the most promising young players in the game today.
5 Andres Iniesta
Iniesta is a linchpin of the Barcelona side and in his own Spanish national team. He came up through the ranks of the Barcelona Youth Academy where he showed promise from an early age and he has been hailed as one of the best soccer players of his generation. He made his first team debut at the age of 18 but prior to that he played for the Spanish under 16, under 19 and under 21 teams before making his international debut for the adult side in 2006.
He captained Barcelona’s Under 15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup in 1999 and he scored the winning goal in the very last minute, making him the player of the match. Iniesta has dated Anna Ortiz since 2008 and in 2011 they had their daughter Valeria before marrying in 2012. When she suffered a miscarriage and lost their second child at seven months, Iniesta was inundated with messages from his devoted fans.
4 Franck Ribery
French star Ribery has played for the German club Bayern Munich as a midfielder since 2007 and he also represents France in their national team. Since he joined Bayern, his talent has shone through and he has since been described as the jewel of French soccer.
Ribery was raised in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Boulogne-sur-Mer and when he was two years old the family were involved in a serious car accident when they ran into a lorry. Ribery suffered serious facial injuries needing more than 100 stitches and it has left him with scars down his cheeks and across his eyebrows.
He began his soccer career at the age of six years old as a youth player for local club Conti Boulogne and he played for various French clubs before he joined Bayern Munich where he really blossomed. In 2013 he won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Swedish Player Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother, who both emigrated to Sweden where they met and where Zlatan and his siblings were born. He began playing for local junior clubs Malmo BI and FBK Balkan when he was five years old after he was given a pair of soccer boots. At the age of 15 he wanted to give up soccer and work on the Malmo docks but his manager persuaded him not to and he decided to concentrate on a soccer career.
He played for Ajax but after an on-pitch incident in 2004 when he was accused of deliberately injuring a fellow player, Ajax suddenly sold him to Juventus for 16 million euros ($22million). In 2006 he signed a four-year deal with Milan and in 2012 Paris Saint-Germain announced they had agreed a transfer fee of around 20 million euros ($28million) to acquire his services. He lives in Paris with his long-term partner Helena Seger and two sons Maximilian and Vincent, but he still visits Malmo every summer.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was born to a municipal gardener and a cook in the city of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira. He was brought up in poverty, sharing a room with his brother and two older sisters. He started playing soccer for local amateur team Andorinha at the age of eight, where his father was a kit man, and when he was expelled from school at the age of 10 for throwing a chair at his teacher his mother agreed he should focus on soccer. His family were staunch Catholics and Ronaldo is the same. He does not touch alcohol as his father died of a drink-related liver disease when he was 20.
Ronaldo made history when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 in a transfer deal worth $131.6 million and his current annual salary after taxes is 21million euros (around $29million) — making him the richest soccer player in the world. He became a father on July 13, 2010, when his son — also called Cristiano — was born. He won’t say who the mother is, but has full custody of the child. He is currently dating Russian model Irina Shayk, the latest in a long line of model girlfriends.
1 Lionel Messi
Messi is captain of Argentina’s national side and plays as a striker for Barcelona, where he has been since he joined their youth academy before he was a teenager. Born to steel worker Jorge Horatio and part-time cleaner Celia Maria, his father moved to Barcelona with his son when he joined the youth academy. Diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11, Barcelona said they would pay his medical bills if Messi would move to the city.
He has won the FIFA Player of the Year award four times — all consecutively — and holds the record for the most hat tricks scored in the history of Europe’s famous Champions League. He lives with his partner Antonella Roccuzzo and he became a dad for the first time on November 2, 2012, when she gave birth to their son Thiago. His style of play has earned many comparisons to that of his home country’s soccer hero Maradona, and many experts say he may go down in history as the best player ever.