10 Best Wingers in the World Right Now
The role of the winger is one that comes with defensive responsibilities as well as offensive ones. However, their primary execution is giving the opposition's defense a hard time, whether it's with crosses or intricate runs into their rivals' penalty area.
Cristiano Ronaldo was undoubtedly the best winger in the world during his time at Manchester United, scoring with ease and helping out with a few assists until he was moved to Real Madrid and began to play a more central role.
Similarly, Messi began to make his mark for Barcelona in a far wider position than he plays today, and now with the Catalans playing a forward line of three, with either David Villa, Alexis Sanchez or Pedro framing the Argentinian at any time, I have decided not to put any Barcelona players on this list.
As the Camp Nou side play their compact, fast, "total" football, the majority of the other teams in the world seem to have a far more defined case for the wings with the occasional switching from left to right to confuse defenses.
This list will look to highlight the 10 best wingers in the world.
This Belgian 20-year-old is the pulse in the attack of Lille and since his emergence into their starting 11, the whole of Europe have been forced to stand up and take notice.
Hazard has been linked with many of the big clubs across Europe and, most frequently, Arsenal, a team that could use the craft of a man like Hazard as they try to rebuild from the loss of Samir Nasri.
The Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year of 2007-2008 has not slouched since his debut, winning caps for the Belgian national side and becoming Lille's chief assisting source, with five goals and eight assists.
Hazard also caught further attention in that season with his performances against Genoa, Gent and Liverpool, which forced his club to sign him to a four-year contract to protect their interests if a major European powerhouse comes knocking at the door.
Eden Hazard has played all 13 games for Lille this season, taking four goals and five assists thus far to help his side to third place in the table.
In my opinion, if it weren't for Giovinco's size he would undoubtedly be playing more international football, and probably at a higher standard than the recovering Italian Serie A.
When he first broke through at Juventus, Giovinco thrilled audiences with his fearless runs, short passing and rangy crosses.
Joining the youth system at the Turin side when he was nine, Giovinco soon impressed after setting up David Trezeguet for a tap in on his debut. The "Atomic Ant" then went on loan to Empoli (2008) where he won comparisons to the great Ronaldhino.
On his return he scored a free kick for Juventus and soon people started thinking of him as the new Del Piero. It was a shock to many when the 5-foot-4 man was sold to Parma, but the Italian's stock has continued to rise.
Watching Giovinco reminds me of the spontaneous methods used by another Italian legend, Gianfranco Zola, a man that was also small in stature but massive when it came to ability and heart.
Giovinco has been very active this season for Parma, claiming six goals and one assist in their nine games.
Following his move from Watford to Aston Villa, many Premier League viewers knew it was only a matter of time before talented winger Ashley Young would move onto greener pastures, and since his move to Old Trafford, he has fit into Sir Alex Ferguson's system, with high focus on the wings, seamlessly.
The first thing people notice about Ashley Young is his unorthodox sprints and his equally troublesome runs. So tricky is the player's general movement that he has caused all types of defending talent trouble.
Young is also know for his crossing and shooting technique in which he whips the ball toward the back post from his left wing position. The ball then moves with such pace in front of the goal that it either only takes the slightest contact from a teammate to put it past the opposing goalkeeper, or it forces a save from the stopper. The technique always seems to finish with the ball trying to creep in beside the far post.
Despite an excellent start to his career with Manchester United, it is commonly believed that the England international can only improve, and with a year under his belt with Sir Alex, the Premier League could be looking at a phenom in Ashley Young.
This season Young has helped Manchester United to second place in the EPL, with two goals and five assists in eight appearances.
Franck Ribery went from what appeared to be a journeyman-like status in his first few years of professionalism, playing for four different Ligue 1 teams only to join Turkish side Galatasaray, to one of the greatest players in the modern game after his re-emergence at Olympique Marseilles, and later, his €26 million move to Bayern Munich.
Eleven goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga during his first season confirmed hopes that Ribery would rise to the level of other top European talent, and soon his name was being mentioned in the same breath as that of Cristiano Ronaldo. He helped Bayern to the double in the 2009-2010 season.
Ribery has some underrated pace which he uses to get away from players after rounding them with his quick feet. The Frenchman often probes for gaps in the oppositions defense and his delivery play is some of the best in the world. The Bayern winger is never afraid to shoot either, but seems to be better from a short range rather than far out.
Although his temperament has won him some criticism across Europe, Zinedine Zidane has claimed that Ribery is the "the jewel of French football." In 12 games this season, Ribery has scored six and made six.
Nani has been close to the chopping board on a few occasions and to this day he is still linked with Italian teams like AC Milan and Inter.
Beginning his career at Sporting Lisbon, Nani seemed hell bent on becoming a tribute act for Ronaldo in his first season at Old Trafford. So wasteful was he in possession that United's fans were left cursing his inexperience.
However, last season he really came of age to the Old Trafford crowd, helping United to their 19th league title.
With competition in the team now in the shape of Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park, Nani will have to erase all wastefulness from his game and create more goal scoring opportunities to demand a regular place in the United side that are now fighting the challenge of their lives posed to them by their City rivals.
Nani has been on target three times for United this season with three assists to his name to boot.
It wasn't so long ago that Harry Redknapp refused to play Bale because, even though the talent was definitely there for all to see, the Tottenham manager deemed that the Welshman was unlucky due to Spurs losing every game he played in.
Two years later, Bale is one of the most sought after wingers in the game after putting on a clinic against Brazilian full back Maicon in Spurs' two group ties in the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan.
After starting this season quite shakily, Bale has recently returned to form and is now playing a key role at White Hart Lane in helping cement his team's place in the top four of the EPL.
Although Bale's strength has always been the attacking side of his game, he seems to have equipped some of his defensive knowledge in the further forward role he now plays, making him stand out from the other European wingers at present.
Bale and his constant links to European giants make it obvious that he will eventually move to a team playing more frequent Champion's League football, Harry Redknapp will need to work hard to get Spurs in the mix and keep talents such as the Welshman, Luca Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart.
Samir Nasri's move to Manchester City seemed to be the nail in coffin as far as Arsenal fans were concerned.
With City buying up a lot of talent over the last few years, many thought that Nasri, dubbed "the next Zidane" by the French newspapers, could be overwhelmed by the talent that surrounded him at Eastlands. However, the talented winger has been sensational since the move and has become one of Roberto Mancini's key men for the blue side of Manchester.
Nasri is a creative player with technique and vision that allows him to do anything with the ball. As a playmaker, he is one of the best in the world, and his talent allows him to run freely at defenses and cut them open rather than constantly crossing aimless balls into the box.
In a stunning debut so far this season, Nasri has one goal and six assists in eight games for Manchester City.
Rumored to be back training two days ago, European Football has been missing one of its favorite sons since Arjen Robben was injured earlier in the season. One of the greatest players in the world when he is fit, the Dutchman has had experiences in football that go well beyond his 27 years.
After dazzling audiences in the Dutch League, Robben found his way to Stamford Bridge where he was absolutely impossible to defend for the majority of the teams. After signing Damien Duff the season before Robben arrived, he made quick work of taking the Irishman's place and beginning the slow demise of the once touted "prospects of European football."
Robben then moved to Real Madrid where Spanish journalists long argued over who was the better player, him or another winger playing for Barcelona, Lionel Messi. A lot of people argued that Real Madrid's clinching of the title in 2008 proved it was the former Chelsea man.
Robben was then pushed out of the fold at Real after another gathering of galacticos was announced, but his move to Bayern proved to be a successful one, striking up a great relationship with his partner on the wings Franck Ribery. Robben helped Bayern to the league title in his first season with them.
Bayern are very much one of the form teams in Europe at the moment and Robben's return can only help them in their quest for the UEFA Champion's League.
Angel Di Maria
Argentinian Angel Di Maria's name was always thrown around when it came to future World Football talents, and his move to Real Madrid has only proved the analysts who followed the winger's career at Benfica right.
It was his three years at the Portuguese side that brought him to the world stage in 2010 under Diego Maradona and even though Argentina failed to impress, the appearances of Di Maria were still underlined by most scouting staff in South Africa.
This year's Madrid side look like they have a real chance of ending "the Barcelona years" in Spanish football, and despite Ronaldo grabbing the majority of the headlines, it is workers like Di Maria that are making his goal return a reality.
Di Maria is a tricky customer with a good turn of pace and an unrivaled delivery into the box. This season, the Argentinian has helped his side with 10 assists in 10 games and one goal in the white of Real Madrid.
David Silva has come a long way since his beginnings as a left winger for Valencia, where he struck up a fantastic partnership with David Villa and showed great loyalty in staying with the club, despite their financial difficulty.
In 2010, after lifting the World Cup with Spain, Silva signed up for Manchester City and since then he has come to be known as arguably the greatest midfielder on the planet.
Silva is all movement and control with a killer instinct in his passing and shooting. He now seems to roam the midfield and come more central when necessary, but the Spanish 25-year-old can still be seen at comfort on the wide left or right positions.
Manchester City's playmaker was the key man when the Blues hammered their United rivals 6-1 at Old Trafford this year, a match which has now been coined "Destruction Derby" by newspapers across the country.
He has surpassed all expectations since his signing to City and is definitely making the difference in their attack at the moment.
Silva will be key in what already seems to be a very promising attempt by City to capture the English Premier League.