World Football Power Rankings: The Top 10 Wingers
Who is the best winger in the world?
Is he Dutch? Spanish? Argentine? Welsh?
There is always great interest and discussion about declaring the top players at their respective positions. Whether ranking goalkeepers or strikers, the world wants to know who is the best.
Although there are many lists ranking the top players, the criteria often changes and creates major controversy.
Reputation, past performance, injuries, and current form have all been determining factors in player rankings.
This is the eighth installment of a series of football power rankings. From goalkeepers to strikers, it will rank the top ten men at each position.
Players will be ranked by their abilities and contributions on the pitch, not by their teams' performance. For example, Barcelona's Victor Valdés rarely lets in goals for the European and Spanish champions. Despite his impressive record, he finds himself behind Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina in Spain's pecking order. Valdés' individual abilities and displays do not warrant a top-five spot on the goalkeeper list.
Players will not be judged by their special games or memorable moments, but by their consistent level while at top form.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney will be ranked according to his form over the latter stages of 2011's campaign. He will not be evaluated by his terrible form post-injury, which carried into the beginning of this season. Arsenal's Robin van Persie has been plagued by ailments in recent years but will be judged by his level of play when fit; ranked according to his performances for the Gunners this season.
Note: Players who have just retired, such as Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes, will not be included in this series.
Here are the top 10 wingers in the world.
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Miloš Krasić - Juventus
Eden Hazard - Lille
Ashley Young - Manchester United
Andrei Arshavin - Arsenal
Arda Turan - Atlético Madrid
Balázs Dzsudzsák - Anzhi Makhachkala
Jesús Navas - Sevilla
Marko Marin - Werder Bremen
Theo Walcott - Arsenal
Adam Johnson - Manchester City
10. Santi Cazorla
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Name: Santi Cazorla
International Caps: 35
Cazorla is one of the most underrated players in world football. The Spanish winger has been a consistent performer in La Liga, earning rave reviews at former club Villarreal. Cazorla recently joined cash-rich Málaga for a transfer fee of €21 million, reuniting with manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Málaga's biggest summer signing is a technically gifted and skillful winger. Cazorla has an exceptional first touch and impressive close control. The Spaniard can beat opponents off the dribble, using his agility and change of pace to side-step challenges. In addition, he provides intelligent movement on and off the ball, dragging defenders out of position.
Cazorla has the ability to pass and shoot with both feet, making him a dynamic threat in possession. With his ambidexterity, the Spanish international can find better passing angles than predominantly one-footed attackers.
His passing, vision and creativity set him apart from the majority of wide players. The Málaga star combines well with midfielders and attackers, using quick one- and two-touch football to create space in the final third. He can pick out teammates with an incisive pass or play a clever through-ball to split defenders.
Although he has emerged as a creative force out wide, Cazorla provides a quality end product as well. The Málaga winger delivers good crosses from the flanks and can test opposition goalkeepers from distance. Given time and space around the box, Cazorla has the technical ability to find the back of the net from long range.
The former Villarreal star has been amongst the best players in Spain over the past few years. Although he does not receive the recognition of the world's other top wingers, Cazorla is undoubtedly one of the elite players at his position.
At 26 years of age, Málaga's new winger has entered the prime years of his footballing career. He may not play for one of the elite clubs in Europe, but he is one of the best wingers in world football. The Spaniard breaks into the top 10 due to his outstanding creativity and world-class technical ability.
Cazorla has the skill to climb higher in the rankings, but he lacks the physical presence to move above the other wingers. In addition, the Spaniard does not provide the same world-class delivery or goalscoring threat as some of the other players on the list.
The former Villarreal player moves above Krasić and Hazard with his creativity, technique, and vision. The Juventus star may be the more traditional winger, but Cazorla edges out the Croatian with his vision and close control.
Hazard has the potential and talent to break into the top 10 over the next few seasons. However, the Spaniard is a more complete and polished player at this point in time.
Although Cazorla flew under the radar during his time at Villarreal, he could emerge as a world-class star at Málaga. The Spaniard does not play for Barcelona or Real Madrid, but he is an immensely talented winger and deserving of the No. 10 ranking.
9. Florent Malouda
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Name: Florent Malouda
International Caps: 69
After two impressive domestic campaigns, the French winger has become an instrumental first-team player for Chelsea. Malouda has scored over 10 goals in consecutive seasons, emerging as a dynamic threat out on the flank. Although he may not have the tricks and flair of other world-class wide players, the Frenchman is still a top-quality winger.
Malouda's technical ability and direct style of play have been key to his success for club and country. The Chelsea winger shows great composure with the ball at his feet. With his good touch and close control, Malouda causes problems in the final third when driving at defenders.
The French international has developed into an impressive passer as well. He connects the vast majority of his passes, linking-up well with teammates and picking out the right option. With his movement and polished passing ability, Malouda has become a creative threat out wide. He reads the game well and can produce the clever pass or simple touch to unlock defenses.
The Chelsea star has become a natural goalscoring winger. Malouda has exceptional striking technique with his cultured left foot, making him a serious dangerman in and around the area. He has the precision to find the back of the net from inside the box, and the power to test goalkeepers from distance. The Frenchman takes up good positions in the final third and has the composure to provide the quality finish.
Although Malouda has great technique, he boasts impressive physical attributes as well. The French international has a good balance of strength and speed. He does not have a blistering pace, but he has good stamina and rarely gets knocked off the ball.
With his accomplished attacking qualities, the Chelsea star has become one of the most talented wingers in world football.
At 31 years of age, Malouda is the oldest player on this list. Although he has a simple and direct style of play, the Frenchman is clearly amongst the best players at his position. The Chelsea winger claims the No. 9 spot with his goalscoring ability, technique, and reading of the game.
Malouda has the talent and physical tools to challenge for a higher spot in the rankings. However, he lacks the consistency and crossing ability move up the list. The Frenchman can be sensational for weeks at a time, but will occasionally suffer lengthy dips in form.
The Chelsea winger climbs above Krasić and Cazorla with his shooting ability, movement, and strength on the ball. The Serbian has outstanding pace, but Malouda moves higher with his impressive goalscoring return as a winger.
Although Cazorla plays for a smaller club, he makes a strong case for a higher ranking. With his creativity and skill, the Spaniard could easily climb above Malouda. Cazorla has exceptional technique and good vision, but the Frenchman has the strength and goalscoring ability to edge out the Málaga star.
Malouda is entering the final stage of his footballing career, but he still has the technique and physical qualities of a top-quality winger.
8. Ángel Di María
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Name: Ángel di María
Club: Real Madrid
International Caps: 23
After an impressive debut season with Real Madrid, di María has emerged as one of the best young wingers in world football. The Argentine international earned a regular place in manager José Mourinho's starting XI, contributing nine goals and 20 assists in all competitions. Only 23 years of age, di María has already developed into a world-class winger.
The Madrid star boasts exceptional pace and dribbling ability. He has the agility and blistering speed to create separation from defenders. Although he has the pace to reach the byline on a consistent basis, di María is most dangerous when running at the opposition.
With his dribbling skill and close control, the Argentine is always a threat with the ball at his feet. Di María drives at defenders with unbelievable speed. He uses feints and small touches to quickly shift the ball, turning around opposing fullbacks when isolated in one-on-one situations. When playing on the right wing, di María frequently cuts inside on his left foot to create shooting opportunities or find teammates with a clever pass splitting the defense.
Although he does not consistently provide world-class delivery, the Madrid star can produce dangerous crosses from the left wing. He gets good curl and whipping action on his crosses, searching out teammates around the penalty area.
Di María has outstanding attacking qualities, but his defensive work-rate and determination distinguish him as an elite winger. The Argentine international closes down opponents well, providing pressure high up the pitch and tracking back defensively.
With his blistering pace and impressive dribbling skill, di María has developed into a world-class winger.
The 23-year-old Argentine had an outstanding 2010–11 campaign with Madrid. Di María may be one of the youngest players on the list, but he is undoubtedly one of the best players at his position. The Argentine winger lands at No. 8 due to his dribbling ability, pace, and work-rate.
Although di María has the talent and potential to break into the top five, his lack of physical strength and inconsistency keeps him from climbing higher in the rankings. In addition, he occasionally holds the ball for too long and dribbles when the better option is to pass.
Di María moves above the likes of Cazorla and Malouda with his pace and crossing ability. The Spanish winger is a more creative player, but the Madrid star has more pace and provides better delivery into the box.
Although Malouda offers a genuine goalscoring threat, di María edges out the Frenchman with his exceptional dribbling ability, crossing and pace.
The Madrid winger has all the tools to claim a top spot in the near future. Still only 23 years of age, di María is undoubtedly an elite winger and deserving of the No. 8 ranking.
7. Antonio Valencia
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Name: Antonio Valencia
Club: Manchester United
International Caps: 47
Following his move from Wigan to Manchester United in 2009, Valencia has become a key first-team player for manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the Red Devils.
The Ecuadorian international was sensational in his first season at Old Trafford, earning a place in the 2009–10 PFA Team of the Year. The winger sat out the majority of the 2010–11 campaign with a broken ankle, but still played a significant role towards the tail end of United's EPL-winning season.
Valencia boasts outstanding physical and athletic qualities. The Ecuadorian winger has outstanding speed and acceleration. His change of pace and quickness make him one of the toughest wide players to mark when isolated in one-on-one situations. In addition to his speed, the Ecuadorian has great endurance and strength on the ball.
The United star's direct style of play has been essential to his success in the EPL. Valencia may not play with tricks and clever flicks, but he can drive past players and consistently reach the byline. He will take a long touch beyond the defender and use his pace to create separation. He prefers a simple approach, relying on his speed and athleticism to beat the opposing left-back.
Valencia's delivery from the right flank sets him apart from the majority of wingers. The Ecuadorian's world-class delivery has become one of his most valuable assets. He provides dangerous and precision crosses from wide positions, picking out teammates around the penalty spot.
The Ecuadorian's combination of pace and crossing ability makes him one of the most dangerous wide players in Europe. He has been in sensational form since joining United, solidifying his place amongst the best wingers in football.
Although he does not have the flair of other elite wide players, Valencia has developed into a world-class winger. The United star may not provide outstanding statistics, but his contributions down the right flank cannot be understated. He claims the No. 7 spot with his direct style, pace, and world-class crossing ability.
Valencia makes a strong case to challenge for a higher spot in the rankings. With his simple and effective style of play, he has become a first-choice winger for United when fit. Although Valencia could easily move into the top five, the wingers above him score more goals and provide a more dynamic attacking option out wide.
The United star climbs above Malouda and Di María with his precision crossing, athleticism, and consistency. Although the Chelsea winger scores more goals, the Ecuadorian is significantly more consistent and provides better delivery from the flank.
Di María has better skill on the ball, but Valencia edges out the Argentine winger with his level of consistency, strength, and precision crossing.
Valencia has the skill-set to move higher in the rankings over the next few years. The Ecuadorian has been outstanding since his move to United, establishing himself as a world-class winger.
6. Gareth Bale
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Name: Gareth Bale
International Caps: 27
After a breakout season for Tottenham, Bale has emerged as an elite player in English football. The Welsh winger was sensational in the 2010–11 season, earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year and winning the PFA Player of the Year award. Although he is still young and improving, Bale has already developed into one of the top wingers in world football.
The Tottenham star has exceptional physical qualities and athleticism. Bale boasts outstanding pace, which makes him a constant threat when marauding down the left flank. Although he has the speed to beat the majority of right-backs, the Welshman's change of pace has been key to his success when isolated in one-on-one situations.
Bale has the acceleration to create separation from defenders and exploit the space in behind opposing right-backs. From a standing position, the Tottenham winger can reach top speed more quickly than most players. Bale is most dangerous when running at defenders with pace.
Although the Welshman is feared for his speed, he also has a great physique. Standing at 6 feet, he has become a world-class athlete with strength and good aerial ability. With his pace, size, and strength, Bale is a physical specimen at the left-wing position.
In addition to his physical qualities, the Tottenham winger has great composure and skill on the ball. Bale has the dribbling ability to complement his blistering pace, making him a dynamic threat when driving at opposing right-backs. With his change of pace, Bale can get in behind defenders with one feint and a long touch into space.
Although he may struggle from standing and deeper positions, the Welshman provides dangerous crosses on the run. When Bale beats defenders to the byline, he will provide a quality end-product. He gets good curl and whip on his crosses while traveling at great pace.
Bale's goalscoring ability distinguishes him as an elite winger. Last season, the Tottenham star scored 11 goals in all competitions. He can shoot with his weaker right foot, but Bale will find the back of the net with his world-class left foot. Although he can score from in and around the box, the Welshman can also test opposition keepers with his free-kicks.
The reigning PFA Player of the Year does not play for one of powerhouses of European football, but he remains one of the most talented wingers in the world.
At 22 years of age, the Tottenham winger is the youngest player on this list. Although still early in his career, Bale is already considered amongst the top players at his position. The Welshman lands at No. 6 due to his pace, dribbling skill, athleticism, and goalscoring ability.
Bale will be a serious contender for the top spot over the next few years. The Welshman has the physical tools and outstanding work-rate to break into the top five in the near future. He has already developed into a world-class winger, but he lacks the consistency to climb higher in the rankings.
The Tottenham star moves above di María and Valencia with his impressive athleticism and goalscoring ability. The Madrid winger has pace and skill, but Bale provides better physical qualities and scores more goals.
With his direct style of play, pace, and precision crossing, Valencia makes a strong case to move higher in the list. However, Bale is a more dynamic threat out on the wing and provides a goalscoring threat as well.
At this point in time, the Welshman falls short of the top five. However, he is undoubtedly a world-class winger and deserving of the No. 6 ranking. With his level of talent and potential, Bale will challenge for a higher spot in the near future.
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Club: Manchester United
International Caps: 46
Over the past few seasons, the United star has developed into one of the best wingers in world football. The Portuguese international has done well to replace United's former No. 7, emerging as a potent attacking and creative threat down the flanks. Nani is coming off his best season in the EPL, topping the charts with 18 assists and earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
The Portuguese international is an exceptionally gifted and skillful footballer. Nani boasts outstanding dribbling ability and ball control, which makes him a constant threat to beat defenders when isolated in one-on-one situations. With his feints and trickery, Nani can side-step challenges with ease and open up space for a shot or cross.
The United star has emerged as a serious dangerman when combining with teammates in the final third. He has the skill and creativity to play quick one- and two-touch football. He uses deft touches and clever flicks to create space and goalscoring opportunities. Nani links up well with strikers and midfielders, playing quick combinations to get in behind the defense.
Nani's ability to play with both feet sets him apart from the majority of wingers. When playing on the left flank, the Portuguese star frequently cuts inside to shoot on his favored right foot.
However, Nani is equally adept playing on the right wing as well. He has the option to race to the byline for a right-footed cross or move inside onto his weaker foot. Nani has good striking technique with his left foot and will find the back of the net from in and around the box. He has become a dynamic player out wide, capable of producing breathtaking moments and spectacular goals.
In addition to his shooting ability, the United winger provides good delivery from wide positions. He can produce dangerous crosses, seeking out strikers around the penalty spot. The Portuguese international does not consistently pick out teammates with pinpoint crossing accuracy, but he gets the whip and curl to trouble opposing centre-backs.
Although he has great technical skill and trickery, Nani's quickness and speed have become key aspects of his game. The winger has the agility and change of pace to quickly beat defenders off the dribble, and create separation from markers.
The Portuguese international had an outstanding 2010–11 campaign and has emerged as a world-class winger.
Nani has developed into an important first-team player for United, creating and scoring goals as a winger. He breaks into the top five with his skill, creativity, trickery, and shooting ability.
The United star has the technical ability and skill to match the wingers ranked higher on the list. However, he can be selfish at times with his dribbling and shooting. Although the Portuguese international has become more effective in the final third, his tendency to ignore the simple option keeps him from moving up the rankings.
Nani climbs above the likes of Valencia and Bale with his shooting ability, skill, and creativity. His United teammate is arguably the first-choice winger for Sir Alex Ferguson; Valencia provides better crossing and more consistency in terms of overall form and performances. However, with his goalscoring ability and skill, Nani edges out the Ecuadorian for a place in the top five. Valencia may be the better fit for United's system, but the Portuguese international is the better winger.
Bale has the talent and athleticism to challenge for a higher spot, but Nani is a more creative and skillful winger. Although the Welshman has outstanding physical tools, the United star creates more goalscoring opportunities from wide positions.
Nani is an exceptionally talented winger and deserving of his place in the top five. At 24 years of age, the Portuguese star could earn a higher ranking in the next few years.
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International Caps: 13
After two impressive years for Barcelona, Pedro has emerged as an elite winger for both club and country. The Spaniard has scored over 20 goals in consecutive seasons, solidifying his place in manager Pep Guardiola's starting XI. Although he is surrounded by world-class players, Pedro has distinguished himself as one of the best wingers in football.
The Spanish World Cup winner is a constant attacking threat with and without the ball. Pedro boasts exceptional pace and agility, which makes him difficult to mark out on the flanks. He has the acceleration to side-step challenges, beat opposing fullbacks, and drive into the final third.
Although he has outstanding speed, Pedro's movement off the ball sets him apart from the majority of wingers. The Barcelona star times his runs to perfection, finding space in behind the defense with his incisive diagonal runs. He is most dangerous when making knifing runs into space. Pedro frequently beats the offside trap with his impressive movement along the front line.
The Spaniard has good technical ability to complement his physical attributes. Pedro is comfortable with both feet, combining well with teammates around the box. The Barcelona winger can play the clever one-touch pass to split the defense and slip a teammate through on goal.
Pedro's composure and finishing ability have been key to his development as an elite winger. He shows great awareness in the box, especially one-on-one with the opposing keeper. Pedro has outstanding shooting accuracy with both feet, which makes it difficult for keepers to guess which direction to dive. The Spaniard frequently passes the ball into the back of the net, preferring precision to power.
Pedro may not be a traditional wide player, but he is clearly a dynamic attacking threat and world-class winger.
Although he does not receive the same recognition of his other club and international teammates, Pedro is one of the most talented players at his position. The Barcelona winger has emerged as a key first-team player for the reigning Spanish and European champions, contributing 13 goals and eight assists in league play last season. He claims the No. 4 spot with his incisive runs off the ball, composure, and finishing ability.
With his talent and potential, Pedro could break into the top three in the near future. However, he lacks physical strength and can be easily knocked off the ball. Although he has been sensational over the past two seasons, the three wingers above him are in a league of their own.
Pedro moves above Bale and Nani with his composure, consistency, intelligent movement, and finishing ability. The Tottenham star is a better athlete out on the wing, but the Spaniard is more consistent and can play with both feet.
Nani makes a strong case to move higher in the rankings. He has the creativity and skill to match the top players on the list. However, Pedro edges out the Portuguese international with his outstanding movement off the ball and unselfish style of play.
Barcelona has a squad full of world-class players at every position, but Pedro is undoubtedly one of the best wingers in world football.
3. Franck Ribéry
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Name: Franck Ribéry
Club: Bayern Munich
International Caps: 52
Since joining Bayern Munich in 2007, Ribéry has been one of the most dangerous attacking players in football. Arguably the best French player of his generation, the winger has been called the "jewel of French football" by legendary playmaker Zinedine Zidane. The Munich star has struggled with injuries in recent years, but he is clearly amongst the top wingers in the world.
Ribéry's technique and skill distinguish him as an elite wide player. The Frenchman has impressive close control and dribbling ability. Ribéry uses slight feints and hesitations to bait defenders, then quickly shifts the ball and takes a touch into space.
With his dribbling skill and pace, the Munich star is most dangerous when driving at opponents from his left wing position. Ribéry has the quickness and acceleration to beat defenders in one-on-one situations. When isolated against the opposing right-back, the Frenchman uses his change of pace to create separation and race to the byline. He makes incisive runs down the left flank, dribbling with pace and driving into the box.
Ribéry creates goalscoring opportunities off the dribble and provides a quality final ball as well. When the Frenchman reaches the byline down the left flank, he picks out teammates with precision passing. Ribéry can pull it back to the penalty spot with his left foot or cut inside on his stronger right foot and deliver a dangerous cross into the middle. His running with the ball at pace puts significant pressure on opposing defenders.
Although he can provide the quality pass, the Munich winger also shows good composure in front of goal. Ribéry has the skill to create an inch of space and the technique to hit a curling shot into the far corner. The French international knows how to find the back of the net when cutting in from his left wing position.
Ribéry has world-class skill and technique, but his work-rate and determination set him apart from other top wingers. He provides endless running and energy down the flanks. While he may not have polished defensive qualities, the Frenchman shows great commitment to win back and keep possession.
Although Ribéry has struggled to stay fit over the past few seasons, he remains one of the best wingers in the world.
After a stellar 2010–11 campaign for Munich, the winger has solidified his place amongst the top players at the position. Ribéry topped the Bundesliga charts with 17 assists last season and contributed 11 goals in all competitions, as well. The Frenchman breaks into the top three with his dribbling ability, pace, commitment, and quality final ball.
Ribéry has all the tools to challenge for a top-two spot on the list. With his skill and polished wing play, the Munich star can be one of the most potent attacking threats in world football. His temperament keeps him from moving higher in the rankings, but the two wingers ahead of him are special talents and unbelievably gifted individuals.
The Munich winger climbs above Nani and Pedro with his goalscoring ability, dribbling skill, final ball, and accomplished wing play. The Portuguese international boasts outstanding trickery and pace, but Ribéry is a more polished attacking player, unselfish in possession and a better goalscorer.
Pedro could easily break into the top three in the near future. Although the Barcelona star makes intelligent runs off the ball and shows great composure in front of goal, Ribéry provides a better final ball and has more accomplished wing play.
The Frenchman has been one of the star players for Munich since his arrival in 2007. Ribéry is one of the most dangerous wingers in Europe and deserving of the No. 3 ranking.
2. Arjen Robben
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Name: Arjen Robben
Club: Bayern Munich
International Caps: 53
Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben is arguably the best winger in the world. The Dutchman has been a star in German football, playing an instrumental role in Munich's title-winning 2009–10 season. In his first two years at the club, Robben has scored a remarkable 28 goals in 31 league starts. The former Real Madrid winger has been in outstanding form for both club and country, emerging as a key first-team player during the Netherlands' memorable run to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
With his electric pace and dribbling skill, Robben has become one of the most dangerous attacking players in world football. The Munich star has the quickness, agility, and acceleration to strike fear in opposing fullbacks. From a dead stop, the Dutchman will burst past defenders with ease. His ability to stop and start with lightning quickness sets him apart from the majority of top-quality wingers.
When isolated in one-on-one situations, Robben's exceptional change of pace makes him nearly impossible to defend. With his blistering speed and explosive style of play, the Dutchman is a constant threat to beat defenders and burst into the final third.
Robben's ball control and dribbling ability distinguish him as an elite winger. In addition to his agility and speed, the Munich star has outstanding skill with the ball at his feet. When running at defenders with pace, Robben uses quick touches with the outside of his foot to keep close control of the ball.
Although the Munich star rarely uses his weaker right foot, he is still unbelievably effective in possession. From his favored position on the right wing, Robben can cut inside on his left foot or race to the byline. With his speed and dribbling skill, the Dutch international creates shooting opportunities when he cuts inside from the right flank. Robben shows great patience in the final third, waiting for the right opening to strike on goal. The Dutchman also provides good delivery from wide positions, especially when he switches to the left flank.
Robben has exceptional technique and a world-class left foot. The Munich winger has the ability to produce breathtaking moments and spectacular goals from distance. He can score from long range, as he strikes the ball with great precision and power. With his explosive pace and shooting technique, Robben can create an inch of space off the dribble and find the back of the net from outside the box.
When fit and on the pitch, the Munich No. 10 is capable of tearing through defenses single-handedly. At 27 years of age, Robben has become one of the best players in the world.
Although injuries have hampered the Dutchman's career, he remains an elite winger and attacking talent. Robben has the pace, dribbling ability, and technique to be the No. 1 player in the rankings.
The Munich star is an exceptionally talented individual, with blistering speed and outstanding ball control. When fit, Robben can both score and create goals off the dribble. After two outstanding seasons in Germany, the Dutch international has solidified his place amongst the best wingers in football.
At 27 years of age, Robben is in the prime years of his footballing career. With his talent and skill, the Dutchman will fight for the top spot on this list over the next few years.
Robben climbs above the likes of Pedro and Ribéry with his quickness, pace, dribbling skill, and ability to produce spectacular goals. The Spaniard has the potential to move higher in the rankings, but the Munich winger is a more potent and polished attacking threat. Robben edges out Pedro with his ability to produce breathtaking goals and beat opposing fullbacks in one-on-one situations.
His club teammate Ribéry has the skill to challenge for a top-two spot in the rankings. However, Robben has emerged as the star dangerman at Munich, giving the team an extra dimension in the final third.
Robben has all the skills to claim a higher spot in the future, but there is only one winger who deserves the No. 1 ranking.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
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Name: Cristiano Ronaldo
Club: Real Madrid
International Caps: 82
Cristiano Ronaldo has earned the title of the world's No. 1 winger. The 2008 Ballon d'Or winner had a sensational 2010–11 campaign with Real Madrid, scoring 53 goals in all competitions and a record-breaking 40 goals in La Liga.
Last season Ronaldo became the first player to win the European Golden Shoe in two different championships, as a Manchester United player in the English Premier League and as a Madrid player in La Liga. Arguably the best footballer in the world, he has been a star performer in both England and Spain.
The Portuguese national team captain has developed into the most complete attacking player in football. Ronaldo is an exceptionally talented and gifted individual, combining world-class technical skill with great pace and athleticism. The Madrid No. 7 is an explosive player on the ball and a dynamic threat in the final third.
Ronaldo's dribbling ability and skill distinguishes him as an elite winger. With his mesmerizing footwork and countless stepovers, the Portuguese star strikes fear in opposing fullbacks. Ronaldo has the ability to beat defenders off the dribble, using his trickery and change of pace to create goalscoring opportunities in the final third.
The Madrid star is one of the most athletic attackers in the world. He has the speed, strength, and skill to cause problems for defenders. From his left-wing position, Ronaldo will cut inside on his stronger right foot or race to the byline. He can side-step challenges with his impressive close control and use a quick feint to manufacture space for a shot or cross.
Although he has blistering pace, Ronaldo boasts outstanding technical ability as well. Comfortable playing with both feet, the Portuguese winger is a dynamic attacker. He can provide quality delivery into the box and test opposition keepers with his weaker left foot. Ronaldo's technique with both feet makes him less predictable when isolated in one-on-one situations. He can pick out teammates on the penalty spot with his left or cut inside onto his favored right foot and strike on goal.
Ronaldo's natural goalscoring ability sets him apart from other world-class wingers. With his great shooting technique, the Madrid star can score breathtaking goals from distance. Ronaldo strikes with precision, power, and swerve, making it difficult for keepers to make a clean catch. Given the slightest time and space on the ball, the Portuguese winger will find the back of the net.
In addition to his shooting from open play, the Madrid No. 7 has become one of the most lethal dead-ball specialists in football. Ronaldo's unique technique gets unmatched swerve and dip on his free-kicks.
Although he can score spectacular goals from dead-ball situations, Ronaldo is a serious aerial threat as well. He has an explosive leap, rising above the majority of opposing players when attacking corner kicks. Timing his jumps well, the Portuguese captain has the ability to climb above defenders and score with forceful headers.
After a sensational career at Manchester United, Ronaldo has enjoyed similar success with 9-time European champions Real Madrid. The Portuguese winger is unquestionably one of the best players in world football.
Although Robben was a serious contender for the No. 1 ranking, Ronaldo emerged as the top winger.
The Portuguese captain has been in unbelievable form over the past few years, breaking club and La Liga goalscoring records. Through his first two seasons at Madrid, the winger has lived up to his world-record £80 million transfer fee. Ronaldo claims the top spot with his athleticism, pace, aerial prowess, technique, dribbling skill, and goalscoring ability.
When fit, Robben could be more electric and explosive in possession, but the Madrid winger has developed into the more complete attacking player. His ability to pass and shoot with both feet makes him more dynamic and unpredictable in the final third. Ronaldo also climbs above the Munich star with his ability to score from dead-ball situations.
Ribéry has the skill and pace to challenge for a higher spot. However, the Portuguese international edges out the French winger with his natural goalscoring ability, aerial prowess, and athleticism.
At 26 years of age, Ronaldo is in the prime years of his footballing career. He has consistently delivered world-class performances since moving to Madrid in 2009, solidifying his place amongst the best players in football.
Nani, Pedro, Ribéry, and Robben will continue to challenge for the top spot, but Ronaldo is undoubtedly the No. 1 winger in the world.
Previous Power Rankings
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Previous Power Rankings: The Top 10 (by position) in the world:
- The Top 10 Attacking Midfielders
- The Top 10 Central Midfielders
- The Top 10 Defensive Midfielders
- The Top 10 Left-Backs
- The Top 10 Centre-backs
- The Top 10 Right-backs
- The Top 10 Goalkeepers
From goalkeepers to strikers, a new Top 10 list will be published every week.