Ranking the 10 Best Passers in World Football
Passing may be one of the most basic skills in football, but few have mastered the art.
We're not just talking about players who get all the assists, though the majority on this list fill that category anyway. We're looking at players who have perfected every aspect of passing such as accuracy, weight and timing. Whether it be flicks, crosses, long-range lobs or through-balls, these players can do it all.
Sometimes these players control the tempo, other times they are tasked with providing the killer pass. Sometimes both.
We’re looking at players who are capable of that elite, killer pass on a regular basis.
These players show the most complete level of skill in this aspect of the game, so let's take a look at the 10 best passers in World Football.
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These players would all be on this list if we were doing a top 20 best passers. They are all extremely talented passers, but not necessarily specialists, nor are they as accurate or dangerous as the players in the Top 10.
10. Steven Gerrard
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Steven Gerrard is in illustrious company, and he deserves to be there. His ability to pass from long-range and to cross are of the highest quality.
Only Xabi Alonso can match him in the former, and probably Mesut Ozil in the latter. That's not all Gerrard is about, though, as he can fashion elite defense-splitting passes on the ground, like many above him on the list.
9. Wesley Sneijder
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Wesley Sneijder is almost a forgotten man in world football, but form is temporary and class is permanent. Right?
Sneijder's ability to find a teammate with both feet is a quality that few can match. His accuracy and creativity are both reasons why he's a great passer.
8. Lionel Messi
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No player is better than Lionel Messi at slide-rule passes at full pace. He’s racked up up plenty of assists with that ability.
While that's how Messi usually showcases the best of his passing talents, other areas, such as crossing and threaded-through balls from deeper areas, aren't too difficult for the best player in the world.
7. Cesc Fabregas
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Cesc Fabregas' time at Arsenal helped him develop his long-range passing when he played as a deeper-lying midfielder.
On his return to Barcelona, we've seen more and more of his quality at shorter distances. Fabregas' goal-scoring ability sets him apart, but he's not out of place on this list when it comes to passing ability.
6. Mesut Ozil
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Mesut Ozil's left foot has wreaked havoc across Europe the last few seasons. He creates goals with some of his simplest passes due to his unselfishness, but has plenty of variety in his passing.
Ozil probably uses crosses more than most on this list. That's one area of passing that definitely isn't a certainty but he almost always gets his man.
5. Andres Iniesta
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Andres Iniesta doesn't showcase the same type of long-range passing game as our top four passers, but he does more than enough to crack the Top Five.
Iniesta is quite capable of producing a sublime long-range pass, but it's at the shorter distances that he truly shines. His ability to deliver a pass after a mazy dribble makes it even more amazing.
4. Xabi Alonso
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There's probably nobody better at switching the play than Xabi Alonso, though a former teammate could certainly stake a claim in that area.
Alonso has set himself apart for two elite teams, Liverpool and Real Madrid, due to his ability to spray the ball around the pitch. Few players can deliver passes at such a long range with such accuracy on a game-by-game basis.
3. Juan Roman Riquelme
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Possibly one of the most underrated players of all-time, Juan Roman Riquelme is an exquisite passer. Andres Iniesta heaped plenty of praise on the Argentinian playmaker when it was thought that he was going to retire.
Thankfully, he is still playing.
Riquelme's vision and creativity led to many sumptous passes for a number of talented teammates, and his passing is a joy to behold.
2. Andrea Pirlo
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Andrea Pirlo's ability to dictate from deep with his passing is almost unparalleled. It's a bit rare to see him playing the silkier one-touch game of our No. 1 player on this list, but he is certainly capable of doing it.
Pirlo's passing has seemingly become better with age, and he is without a doubt one of the finest players when it comes to that skill.
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Xavi, the man who completed 100 percent of his passes in one game, tops our list.
The diminutive Spaniard is capable of playing all sorts of difficult passes, even though he is usually seen playing it short. Whether it's a set piece, a cross, a long-range switch of play or an intricately timed through ball, or flick, Xavi can do it.
While some of the other players on this list may be extremely efficient in a certain type of pass, Xavi can do it all, and do it well.