With the World Cup quickly approaching, there will be a lot of talent in South Africa. In the recent weeks the talent has been on show and there will be even more sweat and tears once the World Cup gets underway.
There seems to be little question that Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wayne Rooney are the best players heading into summer play and they clearly are the best all-around players at their respective positions.
Yet there are many other players who have quickly developed all-around games and not shown the weaknesses of other more talented players. With many players showing propensities of injury, overpassing, selfishness, decline, carelessness, streakiness, and the abilities to be outmuscled or outpaced, there are 12 players who have become jack-of-all trades type players for their teams.
Some of these players may not be as talented or skilled, but they have shown development in almost all phases of their game at their respective positions.
Xavi can easily be mentioned in the upper enchelon of players in the world and has shown that he is the best player for Spain going into the summer. He is the type of player that keeps his team together and has both the experience and skills to do so again on a very talented Spanish team. Xavi always seems to be cool and collected on the field and constantly sets the pace for both Barcelona and Spain.
He is an incredible playmaker and passer, as he has the innate ability to keep the ball in his possession as he lets the next play develop. No matter where he is on the field, his passes are precise, creative, and he rarely makes mistakes. As one of the best midfielders today, Xavi should have a tremendous summer collecting multiple assists as he lets the rest of Spain's talent do the scoring.
2) Didier Drogba
A member of Chelsea, Drogba is one of the best strikers in the world. Playing for the Ivory Coast this summer, Drogba will undoubtedly set fear into the opposition. Moving like a panther most of the time, Drogba will probably have multiple defenders paying close attention to him during World Cup play.
Playing in the Premier League, Drogba has displayed his superior skills on numerous occasions and his physical prowess and power have rarely been kept in check. The definition of a goal scorer and front man, Drogba will need to step up and show others why he is the Captain of the Ivory Coast. His positive change in demeanor when faced with physical contact over the past year has made him someone his team could rely on no matter what.
3) David Villa
The name Villa and the word goal have become synonymous over the past few years. A scorer in every sense of the word, Villa knows what to do with the ball once he gets it in his possession. If he is in motion going towards the goal and gains possession of the ball, defenders will likely be chasing him down and trying to recover. His ability to to score along and his willingness to provide an assist will certainly be thorns in his opponents' sides.
Being able to finish with both feet has given Villa an advantage over defenders and if he gains that advantage, either Villa or Fernando Torres will likely be the source of a Spanish goal.
4) Iker Casillas
Casillas is the one goalie who could appear on this list despite his less than ideal size. He may not have the body of Drogba, but he plays with just as much presence. A major part of Real Madrid, Casillas is undoubtedly the best goalie heading into the World Cup.
Most noticeably, Casillas is composed during his play in goal and that will be necessary for Spain to win. He relies on his positioning and quick recognition of plays to deal with any aerial crosses and corner kicks. Casillas has proven to be a born leader in goal and is vying to be one of the best goalies of this generation.
5) Frank Lampard
Lampard goes into the World Cup as one of the most versatile players for any team. The English midfielder is a force to be reckoned with when he has the ball in his possession and is one of the best penalty takers to be participating this summer.
A very good finisher, Lampard knows when it's time to take control as a scorer, but also when to dish the ball off to one of his English teammates. He has been a consistent performer for his teams and has rarely missed games. If he produces like he has done for Chelsea, expect England to be just as dangerous as Lampard.
6) Andrea Pirlo
Playing for AC Milan, Pirlo has quickly become one of the stalwarts that Italy can rely on in World Cup play. His downfield vision has been vital to both AC and the Italian team during their 2006 World Cup win. Because of his technique and accuracy he is one of the best and most consistent free-kickers heading into the World Cup and that should only help the underrated Italian and his teammates as they attempt a repeat.
Pirlo controls the game's pace from his deep position and is constantly the original source of goals. Although he may concentrate on being a playmaker leading up to a goal, he knows how and when to deliver the right pass, and that skill will be vital to any chance Italy has at repeating in 2010.
7) Gonzalo Higuain
After deciding to play for Argentina, Higuain became arguably Argentina's 3rd best player after Messi and Carlos Tevez. Although Tevez is the better goal scorer, Higuain is the better all-around player.
The silky smooth striker has shown the ability to both support players like Messi and Tevez, but also become the front man when he's needed to do so. Higuain can quickly change the pace of the game with his dribbling, while also coming up with a big score. His ability to pass, but also create his own goals off the dribble is what gives him the slight edge over Tevez as a more consistent player.
8) Giorgio Chiellini
Chiellini has proven to anyone who watches Juventus that he deserves recognition as a defender. Tough and physical, Chiellini is sound in pretty much every aspect of defending. He's evidently worked on his craft year after year and has kept players like Villa from imposing their will against his team. The fact that he can play in the center and on the left proves that he is a willing defender depending on what his team needs him to do.
In every aspect of his game, Chiellini has shown no true weaknesses, and should have his hands full trying to keep the multitude of scorers from exposing any unseen weaknesses in this year's World Cup.
Silva will probably have to take a backseat to the other Spanish players in regards to popularity, but he will definitely find a way to impact a game or two come the World Cup. Silva's ability to accept the role given to him during that particular game and his ability to succeed in that role is what makes him so important to Spain.
Although he isn't physically imposing, Silva's ability to dribble past more imposing players is what makes him superb. Whether he's the central midfielder and the primary playmaker or a deep stiker, he's shown the vision that on any other team besides Spain would get more recognition.
Despite how talented Dani Alves is, Maicon has remained a key cog for Brazil because of his all-around play. More defensive-minded than Alves, Maicon has proven time and time again that he is one of the best fullbacks in the world. He may not be the sparkplug that Alves is, but his grit and toughness makes up for the speed advantage that Alves has.
He may not score the tremendous goal or make the spectacular play, but he knows how to play on both sides of the field. After making an excellent defensive stop it should not be a surprise to anyone to see him charge down the other side of the field to help set up a goal for Brazil.
11) Yaya Toure
Toure's presence for both Ivory Coast and Barcelona is what allows the rest of his team to succeed. Although he plays as a midfielder, his aggressivness is that of a defender. With his strength and ball skills Toure provides a double threat.
He not only gives the strikers time to attack as he concerns himself with stopping the opposition, but he's a major weapon in the air. With imposing defensive skills and the ability to jumpstart the offense with effective surging runs, Toure could be one of the most underrated players this summer.
12) Daniele De Rossi
An AS Roma midfielder, De Rossi is the type of player who defenses wish would stop moving so they could get a rest. A consistent midfielder with a high-end motor, De Rossi will be important for Italy whenever they attempt to move the ball forward.
With an excellent long-range arsenal as a shooter on offense, De Rossi will be key to the success of Italy's forwards and their scoring opportunities. Defensively, he has shown that he is above average and he is not afraid to mix it up with other players in order to begin the attack.
*Although it is speculative as to whether these 12 players will have the impact that they have had over their careers, they are a small sample of the immense talent that will grace South Africa for the World Cup. They have shown the ability to develop multiple aspects of their game in order to succeed. They are undoubtedly worthy of being call Jacks of all trades and masters of none, but this summer they will be looking to quickly become masters-of-all in the World Cup.
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