La Liga Rankings: Top 10 Wingers in Spain

Michael CernaCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2012

La Liga Rankings: Top 10 Wingers in Spain

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    We have reached the first break in the 2012-2013 La Liga season, and fans now have to wait two weeks before seeing their favorite team take the pitch again.

    This is the perfect opportunity for Bleacher Report to continue its ranking of the top players in Spain's Primera Division by position.

    I previously ranked the top 10 center backs in Spain, and you shared your views on who else should have been included on that list.

    I now continue this series by ranking the top 10 wingers in La Liga.

    For this list, I will not just look at true wingers, but also wide-attacking midfielders, or false wingers, as long as those players excel at spreading play and creating opportunities for their strikers.

    After reading this list, it should become clear that the league is blessed with some of the most talented wingers in Europe.

    I invite you all to respond with who you think should have made this list or who should have been excluded. I also hope to have some debate as to how the players were ranked. I look forward to reading your comments below.

    Read on to see the top 10 wingers in La Liga.

Honorable Mentions

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    These La Liga stars just missed the cut for various reasons. 

    Gonzalo Castro
    Quite honestly, the Uruguayan's absence from this list is a testament to the quality of the other players who were selected.

    Antoine Griezmann
    The 21-year-old has improved every season in Spain, and this term, the Frenchman is already putting more effort in off the ball and on defense.

    Christian Rodriguez
    I have no doubt that La Cebolla will earn a spot on this list soon, but he has not been in La Liga long enough to prove it yet.

    Andres Guardado
    Valencia's new signing is very talented but falls just short of the top 10.

10. Jose Antonio Reyes

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    Inconsistent and frustrating.

    Those two words may best describe a player once ranked as one of the top young wingers in Europe.

    Under the tutelage of Joaquin Caparros at Sevilla, La Perla excited fans and scouts alike with his fancy footwork and eye for goals.

    The Hero of Seville caught the eye of Arsene Wenger and made a move to North London to play for the Gunners just before his 21st birthday.

    Unfortunately, the Spaniard never did settle in at the English club and returned to Atletico Madrid, where he revived his career before returning to his boyhood club last season.

    Jose Antonio Reyes never reached the incredible potential he showed during his first stint at the club, but the exciting winger still shows signs of brilliance as he nears his 30s.

    He may not have become the club legend many expected him to be, but Reyes still remains one of the top wingers in Spain.

9. Markel Susaeta

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    Markel Susaeta was one of many Athletic Bilbao players who drew attention from Europe's top clubs last season.

    The 24-year-old Spanish winger had a breakout season for casual La Liga fans and scored a career-high 13 goals last year.

    The Basque star's close control of the ball makes him very difficult to mark and puts him in great position to set up his teammates.

    Man United fans know how well Susaeta can pass the ball, as it was his cross that set up teammate Fernando Llorente for the opener in the Red Devils' Europa League bout with the Basques at Old Trafford last season.

8. Joaquin

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    Wherever Joaquin has played, he has always been one of the most important players on the team.

    As a youth player at Real Betis, the Andalusian helped his team back to La Liga after a year-long absence and then led them to a Champions League berth and a fourth-place finish in 2004.

    Sanchez then became an integral part of Valencia in the late 2000s after becoming the most expensive transfer in team history in 2006.

    His first season at Malaga was cut short due to injuries, but this season has seen him retake his place as one of the leaders on the team, and he's done his best to ease the loss of Santi Cazorla.

    Joaquin has certainly lost some speed, but his excellent passing and dribbling skills have kept him dangerous and among the best in the league.

7. Alexis Sanchez

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    When Alexis Sanchez arrived at Camp Nou last summer for just over €25 million, the initial reaction from fans was mixed.

    The Chilean had proven to be a very hard-working, flashy young winger at Udinese, but he was not the scoring threat that fans were expecting.

    The 23-year-old ended up netting 12 goals on the season, which is very good for a winger and was incredibly vital to Barcelona, as the club lost three other wingers for long periods of time.

    Still, many fans fail to realize the great quality of the South American and expect from him only in terms of goals—certainly his tendency to lose his feet rather easily doesn't help.

    Sanchez is still young but already shows signs of becoming a top player at his position. He has managed to score over 10 goals in the last two seasons, and La Blaugrana would surely welcome a repeat of that feat this term.

    Tito Vilanova has continued to show the same faith in him that his predecessor showed, which should only help the winger develop further.

6. Iker Muniain

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    Still just 19 years old, Iker Muniain is already on his way to becoming one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe.

    The Basque star is versatile and can line up on either flank or as a second striker. He has already developed into a creative force and faces a huge season that could see him become one of the leaders of his team.

    The teenager is still lacking a bit of discipline but already has a great understanding of the game. His poise and incredible work rate make him one of the most highly rated young stars in Europe.

    The Spaniard is very skilled on the ball and is quite the showman, but he never keeps the ball beyond the time needed.

    With Javi Martinez gone and Fernando Llorente seemingly not too far behind him, Muniain will soon have to decide whether or not he wants to stay in Bilbao.

    You can bet that the biggest and best clubs in Europe will be waiting desperately to hear what he decides.

5. Pedro

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    Pedro is still only 25, but he is already one of the most successful players in La Liga. He is the first player to ever score a goal in six different competitions in one year.

    The Spaniard currently has 16 trophies as part of the modern Barcelona team, and anyone who thinks he has just been along for the ride needs to remember just how important Pedrito has been for Barça.

    Since being promoted to the first team in 2008, Pedro has proven to be one of the best big-game players in Europe.

    Whether it be a Clasico, a decisive league match or a Champions League final, the former La Masia player always finds a way to shine on the grandest stages.

    His absence from big matches late last season further highlighted that fact. His injury last season left Barcelona weakened, without bite and overly reliant on Lionel Messi.

    The Tenerife man is an absolutely incredible passer, is perhaps the second-best dribbler in Blaugrana and is one of the most ambidextrous players in football.

    As Pedro slowly gets back to full health, people will start to see and remember how great a player he is and just how valuable he is to Barcelona.

4. Arda Turan

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    Of all the players on this list, Atletico's versatile playmaker is the most complete winger of all.

    Last season, Los Rojiblancos made Arda Turan the most expensive Turkish transfer in history.

    This year, they rewarded him with the coveted No. 10 jersey, signifying the immediate impact he has had at the club.

    Turan can play almost anywhere in the front half. His defensive work rate is unrivaled by the other players on this list which—coupled with his superb passing ability—makes him useful anywhere in midfield.

    For Turkey, he often plays in attack as part of a three-man line, but he most often finds himself on the left side of an attacking midfield trio.

    His dazzling footwork is as good as anyone's on this list, barring maybe Ronaldo.

    Turan is an extremely hard-working, intelligent player who is already one of the most respected and admired players in Spain.

3. Angel di Maria

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    If not for a lengthy injury layoff last season, it is likely that Angel di Maria would have broken La Liga's single-season assist record.

    It has been rumored that Jose Mourinho did not want to bring the Argentinian winger to the Spanish capital because he did not think he was worth the money.

    If that is true, the Madrid boss is surely glad he did not get his way, because di Maria has now developed into one of Europe's elite wingers.

    Like Alexis Sanchez, di Maria is unpopular among fans and non-fans alike due to his incessant diving, but that does not stop him from being one of the best wide men in football.

    The South American is creative, has tremendous vision and is capable of scoring some great goals when put in position.

2. Jesus Navas

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    No need to beat around the bush here.

    Jesus Navas is Sevilla's best player, the best winger in Spain and one of the best in all of Europe.

    Last season, La Joya was the most accurate crosser in Europe and has long been a target of Europe's top clubs.

    Initially, an anxiety disorder linked to homesickness was a major reason Navas turned down teams like Chelsea, but now the winger is fully healthy and still chooses Sevilla over teams like Arsenal.

    Navas may retire with Sevilla. If he does, it may be as the all-time leader in appearances.

    While that will certainly influence his legacy elsewhere, Sevilla and La Liga fans will hold him in the highest regard, especially after already showing so much loyalty for such a talented star.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Enter one of the two best players in football, Real Madrid's No. 7.

    Whether you rate him second best or the best, there is no denying that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most talented footballers to ever play in Spain.

    CR7 is the best wide man in all of football, not just La Liga. He plays as more of a false winger, and the freedom he is granted makes his position hard to categorize, but his place on this list certainly makes sense.

    He came to Real Madrid nearing his prime, which has allowed him to break many records, and it is safe to assume that he is nowhere near finished.

    Ronaldo is part of the greatest individual rivalry of his time and could soon be one of the few players to win a Ballon d'Or in both the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga.

    While many fans find reasons not to like him or even appreciate his incredible talent, only the most biased and stubborn fans would not want to keep him in Spain.

    Having such a rare talent in Spain makes the league that much more enjoyable, even if everyone hates seeing him line up against his or her favorite team.

    Cristiano Ronaldo—the best wide man in La Liga.