World Football: The 20 Smartest Attacking Players in the Game Today

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIISeptember 8, 2011

World Football: The 20 Smartest Attacking Players in the Game Today

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    Form is temporary but class is permanent. That just about sums up the players on this list for the most part.

    While football has its fair share of players with high IQ's, that is not the kind of smart up for discussion today.

    This list was an interesting one to make, especially in terms of the criteria involved. Defenders can be smart players too but a defender doesn't generally make the defense splitting pass to create a chance.

    There are a lot of attributes that players require to be such forces in attack but one attribute that stands above all is vision

    Vision is seeing a move or pass that many others on the field, or in the stand's don't.

    In this case, we are not looking for attackers that can just light it up by scoring goals or doing tricks but those with playmaking skills.

    One major factor in deciding about these players was their overall quality. Some players on this list may be injured, lacking form, or playing in a league lower than their abilities but they are still among the best when taking into account the above factors.

    In that case, this list has a lot more experience than youth. I am by no means saying that these are the best players in the world, but I think I defined exactly how they should be viewed. In any case, every one has their preferences.

    While parity among the various top leagues, nations, and clubs, was of concern, in the end, the smartest of the smart made the list.

    Seeing as it was tough enough to pick the players on this list, they are in no particular order.

    So click through to find out the 20 Smartest players in World Football today!

Andrea Pirlo

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     Pirlo has placed some delightful passes for his teammates over the years and he has been instrumental in two of the top teams in Italy in AC Milan and Inter, and is set to shine with his third in Juventus.

     Whether playing as the deep lying playmaker or the Treguerista, Pirlo has been in position to find his teammates and let his teammates find him in dangerous positions.


Xavi Hernandez

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    When it comes to vision Xavi sees it all on the pitch.

    A keen sense of awareness of where his teammates are going to be, as well as where they need him to be, allow Xavi to always be in the right place at the right time. That is why he averages basically 100 passes per game for Barcelona

    Barcelona's general build up play may be on the slower side, but in the final third a quick mind is needed to know when to play that perfect pass, and Xavi does it well.

David Silva

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    Silva may not be in the limelight of some of his fellow Spanish footballers, but he is quite the visionary in his own right.

    He is still getting used to his Manchester City teammates after years in Valencia, but Silva's positional sense gets him into good areas for playmaking both at the club and international level.

    Since moving to the EPL, Silva had to get used to a faster paced game, and he acclimated well; switching from the slower game on the Spanish national side without a hiccup is quite a feat.

Andres Iniesta

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    If Xavi sees something, Iniesta probably does too. It is just a matter of who has the ball and whether they want to play it or not.

    Xavi may average around 100 passes per game but a lot of them are to his partner in crime Iniesta. Andres puts himself in places to use his silky smooth dribbling to further the Barcelona attack and find that killer pass.

    After wriggling himself out of sticky situations time and again, Iniesta still has to pick the right pass and play it the right time. Both of these things he does very well.

Wayne Rooney

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     Rooney may be a surprise to some but he has shown a side to his game so far this season that was always there.

    He has begun to look more and more to be the link between midfield and forward line for Manchester United and, to a lesser extent, England. He gets himself in the appropriate positions to link with his midfielders and spray the ball around the pitch.


Xabi Alonso

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    The Ronaldo's, Benzema's etc. wouldn't bulge the net if Alonso didn't pick them out first, and that says a lot for the midfielders talents.

    Playing from a primarily deeper role, Xabi Alonso can always be found by his defenders, and is able to find his other teammates just as well.

    His ability to pick out a pass is just as extraordinary as the range of passing.

Cesc Fabregas

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    The fulcrum of an Arsenal side for years, Fabregas' vision is best noted in this statement from Van Persie.

    With Spain Fabregas sometimes plays a little higher up the pitch, with Arsenal he used to roam, with Barcelona he may play just about anywhere in midfield and, at times, the 'Messi' role. Needless to say, he has the positional sense to both start and finish attacks with aplomb.

    Fabregas knows when to make a pass, as evidenced by the Van Persie statement, and he usually gets it right too.


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    His best Barcelona days may be behind him, but Ronaldinho is no doubt the creme of the crop in Brazil currently. His vision is one thing that cannot leave him, even if he gains a few pounds.

    The buck-toothed wonder could play anywhere across the front line in a Barcelona three back in the day, and in a more advanced midfield position, both with success.

    A sublime flick or pass is just around the corner with Ronaldinho on the field, and if it comes off, it is because of this mans vision.

Wesley Sneijder

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     Sneijder is the fulcrum of an Inter and Netherlands side at the moment, and he has the vision to set up the likes of Diego Milito in Italy or Robin Van Persie on the international stage.

     With his more advanced position on the field, Sneijder has to make sure he is available for his defensive and more offensive players, and he is.


Luka Modric

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     Modric sees things on the pitch that many of the players in the Premiership can't, including some of his Tottenham teammates.

     When Rafael Van der Vaart joined the squad it was uncertain as to whether it would negate the play of the Croatian. His ability to properly position himself in the central areas made it an easy transition for both players.

Lionel Messi

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     The pass to Cesc Fabregas in the UEFA Supercup is one example of his fantastic vision, despite all his goalscoring prowess.

     Messi is generally always available for the ball, and he usually gets it. Along with the three other Barcelona players on this list, Messi's positional sense allows the Catalans to do what they do so well.


Rafeal Van Der Vaart

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     Out of the two Dutch maestros, Van der Vaart can play higher up the pitch but that doesn't negate his vision for the actual striker or wing players.

     Having to share the playmaking duties with Luka Modric with his back to the goal a little more than usual, Van der Vaart has done a good job of getting into both scoring and passing positions.

Joao Moutinho

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    Moutinho was the lynchpin for the Porto side that displayed some fantastic football last season, without his vision the likes of Falcao would not have seen the net as much.

    While the Portuguese league isn't the fastest or the highest quality, Moutinho still had to pick out his teammates at the right moment and, considering Porto's success, he did so well.

Thierry Henry

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    You may think this is only because of his Arsenal heydays but Henry is a player that can set up a good goal as well as score one.

    He may have a little less movement now in the MLS, but Henry is generally in the right place at the right time for both goals and assists.

    Henry sees things quicker than most in the MLS, and will play the pass at the right time.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

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    Schweinsteiger's game is more measured like Xabi Alonso's and, just like Alonso, from a deeper position on the pitch he sees the game well.

    For both Germany and Bayern Munich, Schweinsteiger is the more playmaking defensive midfielder and he puts himself into positions to do this well.

    Bastian can hit a lot of different passes, and finds the likes of Robben, Ribery, Ozil and Klose at the right times.

Juan Mata

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    Juan Mata has an even bigger cloud over his head than David Silva when it comes to the Spanish national team. With the skills he possesses his time is sure to come. He has the vision necessary to help Chelsea achieve their goals for the season..

    After David Villa and David Silva left, Mata took the burden of guiding Valencia's attack, allowing him to hone his skills even more.

    With the dribbling skill that he possesses, Mata also has a keen eye for the pass, and like Silva, he uses his left foot to good effect.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Ibrahimovic is another interesting player for this list. The big Swede has surprising vision on the field, though his passes come in the form of flicks a good number of times.

    With his body and strength, Ibrahimovich is able to make himself available for his teammates, and set them up as well.


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    Remember those wonderful passes in the Champions League final against Liverpool? That is vision, and the passing accuracy to make it count as well.

    Such class should not be doubted forever, and if Kaka manages to stay injury free for some time, we may see him back at his best.


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    Argentina would be much better placed if Messi had someone to share the playmaking burden with, and Riquelme fits the bill.

    His lack of pace is a non-factor considering his positional sense, silky smooth dribbling, and vision. He is aware of his teammates positions just as he is his own, and that makes him a very smart player.

Pablo Aimar

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    Pablo Aimar hasn't necessarily fallen through the cracks but he is not where he should be. He may have made his move too soon or something but there is no doubting the genius within him.

    Benfica have a well-known threat who may lack the physical tools of old, but the mind is still working.