20 Greatest Barcelona Playmakers Ever

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2013

20 Greatest Barcelona Playmakers Ever

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    Playmaker is an ambiguous term in football these days—particularly at a club like Barcelona.

    When you originally draw connotations you immediately visualize a No. 10 who buzzes around with a mix of guile, vibrance and creativity, enhancing his team's effectiveness in the final third.

    It doesn't have to be from a predominantly advanced midfield position anymore though, with players like Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo excelling as deep-lying playmakers. All the while there have been forwards who are equally adept at dropping 10 yards and dictating play.

    The following slides take a look at Barcelona's greatest ever playmakers, allowing plenty of poetic license for anyone who has been labelled a creator, at one time or another, in the club's long history.

     

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    20. Francesc Fabregas

    To Arsenal and back, Cesc Fabregas reveled in Barcelona's opening day 7-0 hammering of Levante this past weekend. There's plenty of scope for him to move up this list if he hangs around at Camp Nou.

     

    19. Sandor Kocsis

    One of two Hungarians signed by Helenio Herrera, Sandor Kocsis spent seven injury-filled years at Camp Nou. More of a forward originally, Kocsis often played deeper for Barca and would feature much higher if he'd played more.

     

    18. Deco

    Deco spent four years at Barcelona before departing for Chelsea in 2008. He made well over 100 appearances in the blaugrana and was part of the Frank Rijkaard side which won the Champions League in 2006.

     

    17. Luis Enrique

    Barcelona fans were understandably cautious when Luis Enrique arrived from Real Madrid in 1996. Eight years later though he was one of their own. He played all sorts of positions in his time at Camp Nou.

     

    16. Josep Fuste

    Josep Fuste is unfortunate in that he formed a part of one of the gloomier periods of Barcelona's history—the '60s. He did go onto captain the club and made over 200 appearances, but was restricted only to Spanish Cup success.

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    15. Bernd Schuster

    Bernd Schuster made the opposite move to Luis Enrique, swapping Camp Nou for the Bernabeu after eight years in Catalonia in 1988. During his time with Barcelona, the German managed to create and score plenty from midfield.

     

    14. Jose Maria Bakero

    Jose Maria Bakero is highly remembered at both Real Sociedad and Barcelona, forming a vital part of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team. After joining Barca in 1988, he spent nine years and made over 300 appearances at the club.

     

    13. Mariano Gonzalvo

    Barcelona enjoyed plenty of success in the '40s, and Mariano Gonzalvo was a player loved by fans of that era. He was a Spanish league champion five times, regarded as one of the countries most talented players and made over 200 appearances.

     

    12. Diego Maradona

    Diego Maradona should figure much higher, but a bout of hepatitis and a broken ankle restricted his playing time during two seasons with Barcelona. After squabbling with the club's hierarchy, Maradona requested to leave the club in 1984 ending what could have been one of football's great relationships.

     

    11. Michael Laudrup

    Even in training, Swansea City players have been known to be impressed with the technique of Michael Laudrup. His Barcelona career is tainted by his betrayal to Real Madrid in 1994, but he was a special part of Cruyff's Dream Team before that.

10. Luis Figo

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    Similarly to Michael Laudrup, Luis Figo's controversial transfer to Real Madrid is more often remembered than the five years of service he gave to Barcelona.

    With the Portuguese star central to their team, Barca won two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and a UEFA Super Cup.

    Perhaps that's why his betrayal hurt so much.

9. Rivaldo

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    A Ballon d'Or winner with Barcelona, Rivaldo rose to become one of the world's greatest players at Camp Nou.

    Picked up from Deportivo de la Coruna, two La Liga titles swiftly followed the Brazilian over from Galicia.

    In over 200 appearances for the club, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Super Cup were other notable contributions to his trophy cabinet.

8. Pepe Samitier

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    There's a certain level of confusion surrounding the position of Josep Samitier, another who, in retirement from playing this time, eventually defected to Real Madrid.

    Between 1919 and 1932 he made over 450 appearances for Barcelona from a position, described by Phil Ball in his book Morbo, as a cross between a defender and a midfielder. It sounds like a strange hybrid for its time.

    It the sounds even stranger when considering the great Samitier managed over 300 goals for the club and quite possibly countless assists too.

7. Laszlo Kubala

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    Over 10 years and more than 250 appearances bore little fruit thanks to the domination of Alfredo di Stefano's Real Madrid to the west in the Spanish capital.

    Laszlo Kubala was the heartbeat of a very good Barcelona side which have, largely, been forgotten.

    The Hungarian did spearhead four La Liga titles though, while also being part of five Copa del Rey successes—both pale imitations to Madrid's five European Cups unfortunately.

6. Ronaldinho

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    Since 2006 Barcelona have been on the rise, and the 2003 signing of Ronaldinho must be mentioned as a significant part of that.

    The Brazilian brought a samba beat back to Catalonia—even if we weren't quite sure what tiki-taka was by then—as, under Frank Rijkaard, they returned to the top of Europe's tree with Champions League success.

    Ronaldinho was head and shoulders above most other players in the world at the time, and it was seemingly his attitude which brought a rather subdued end to his time at Camp Nou when Josep Guardiola was appointed in 2008.

5. Lionel Messi

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    Lionel Messi is, or at least will be, remembered as Barcelona's greatest player—but is he their greatest playmaker?

    In recent years Messi has been used as the club's central forward, as a goal scorer to trump all goal scorers, but he still creates too.

    Still only 26, it seemed unfair to feature him too highly given that he's won everything else ever.

4. Andres Iniesta

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    Andres Iniesta is a La Masia graduate who plays like you would expect a La Masia graduate to play.

    Away from the shadows cast by Lionel Messi at Barcelona, Iniesta has been the shining light of Spain's successes in two European Championships and one World Cup.

    The speed of his feet combined with his vision and awareness for space is a joy to watch, and Camp Nou will hope to witness it for many more years.

3. Johan Cruyff

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    Johan Cruyff is a Dutchman who has taken on the symbol of Catalanism—even naming his son Jordi, a Catalan name.

    He is also pretty symbolic of the style of football associated with Barcelona to this very day. Firstly as a player, bringing his Dutch brand of total football to Camp Nou, and then as a manager when he was in charge of the famed Dream Team.

    Unfortunately Cruyff's time as a player at Barcelona wasn't riddled with silverware; just one La Liga and once Copa del Rey were won during his five years at the club.

2. Josep Guardiola

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    Like Cruyff, Josep Guardiola has inflicted the Barcelona style upon us as both a player and a manager.

    According to Phil Ball's Morbo, Cruyff was watching a B team game when he instructed then manager, Charly Rexach, to move the "skinny lad" from the right side of midfield into the middle. 

    That skinny lad was Guardiola, and the rest is history.

    As a player Guardiola was the central hub of the Dream Team before, as manager, overseeing arguably Barcelona's most successful period.

1. Xavi Hernandez

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    There is perhaps no greater image of tiki-taka, the style of football which has swept the world, than Xavi Hernandez. 

    As a man and as a boy, Xavi has represented Barcelona with a stunning amount of consistency and a ridiculously high amount of completed passes. 

    What he hasn't won, at both club and international level, isn't worth winning, and his way of creating from slightly deeper has been the perfect complement for players like Ronaldinho, Iniesta and Messi down the years.