Some of the Best Barcelona Players

A look at some of the best Barcelona players to have donned the famous blaugrana shirt. Supporters at Camp Nou have been treated to some magnificent talents over the years.

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi - best Barcelona player
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly Barcelona's best ever player. Davod Ramos / Getty Images

Messi is the club's record goalscorer, and the five times World Player of the Year just gets better. Any debate about the best player ever usually revolves around Pele and Maradona, but Messi has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as these two greats. The Argentinean is a supreme dribbler, passer and finisher, with the ability to affect a game without scoring. A regular provider of assists, Messi’s rat-like cunning leaves defenders dumbfounded.

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László Kubala

László Kubala
László Kubala was prolific in his time at Barcelona. Gianni Ferrari / Getty Images

A total of 274 goals in 345 appearances between 1950 and 1961 speaks for itself. The only European player to be capped by three different national sides (Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain), the forward was excellent at turning players and a strong dribbler. The way he dispatched the ball with power and precision past opposing goalkeepers made him feared across the land and ensured he regularly got into double figures in the goal charts. Winner of four Spanish titles and two Fairs Cups.

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Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez
Xavi was the pass master for Barcelona. Jean Catuffe / Getty Images

Xavi was Barcelona’s midfield orchestrator for the best part of 15 years. An expert distributor of the ball, Xavi was capable of being economic in possession, regularly dictating a game's rhythm. He became invaluable for Barcelona as the years went on, and although not a prolific scorer from midfield (he only got into double figures once in his Barcelona career), his runs into the box and ability to take free-kicks were invaluable for club and country. Moved on after winning the treble in 2015.

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Ronaldinho v Atletico Madrid
Ronaldinho dazzled Camp Nou before being shipped out by Pep Guardiola. Denis Doyle / Getty Images

For a while, Ronaldinho was the best player in the world. Those devastating bursts of acceleration that took him past multiple defenders were taken for granted at Camp Nou after the club beat Manchester United to his signature in 2003. Also an expert free-kick taker, Ronnie won two Spanish League titles and a Champions League during his time at the club. A penchant for partying was a recurring theme during his career, and like fellow countryman Rivaldo, the cules (fans) were pleased to see the back of him in 2008, with Messi coming to the fore.

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Rivaldo celebrates
Rivaldo had a fine goalscoring record and was capable of the sublime. Clive Mason / Getty Images

The bow-legged Brazilian may have been the subject of jeers from certain sections of the club’s demanding support base in his latter days, but that was merely because he was no longer producing the inventive performances that characterized his stay at Camp Nou. Rivaldo possessed a wicked left foot and his curling free-kicks were a thing of beauty. A repertoire of outlandish tricks made him a box office draw in La Liga from the mid-nineties to the early noughties (he also enjoyed a spell at Deportivo La Coruna. Eighty-six goals in 159 Barca games was an impressive haul for a playmaker. Scorer of arguably the best hat-trick ever against Valencia in June 2001 to secure Champions League qualification.

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Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta is even loved by fans of other clubs. Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images

Like Messi and Xavi, Iniesta came through the club’s La Masia youth system. His understanding with the latter bordered on the telepathic at times. Iniesta does not score as many goals as he once did, but his game is all about linking up with team-mates. Those passing triangles he and Xavi produced were a trademark of Josep Guardiola’s Barcelona tenure. Iniesta is also very modest, never creating problems for the coaches he works under. His winner for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final against Holland means he is loved by fans across the country, even those of city neighbors Espanyol.

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Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov takes a shot for Barcelona
Hristo Stoichkov loved to hate Real Madrid. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Real Madrid’s chief tormentor in his seven seasons at the club, the moody Bulgarian may have divided opinion away from Catalonia, but his two stints at Barca garnered no fewer than eight major trophies. An ability to produce the unexpected, mainly from the left of midfield, was his defining characteristic combined with a goals ratio (85 goals in 175 appearances) that surpassed expectation. He claimed in 2010 that Real Madrid ‘make me sick’ – a comment that no doubt cemented his place in the hearts of the fans.

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Josep Guardiola

A young Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola kept things simple. Ben Radford / Getty Images

‘Pep’ played the game with a delicious simplicity. Rarely taking more than two touches of the ball, he would dictate play in a similar fashion to how Xavi does nowadays. Guardiola was Jonan Cruyff’s eyes and ears on the pitch and a key figure in the side that dominated Spanish soccer in the early 90s (winning four Liga titles in a row) and won the 1992 European Cup against Sampdoria at Wembley. Guardiola would also go on to become a successful coach at Barcelona. Elegant, humble and a workaholic.

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Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff 1947 - 2016
Johan Cruyff is a Barcelona legend. VI-Images / Getty Images

The Dutch legend was one of the main protagonists in the challenge to Real Madrid’s dominance after joining the club in 1974 for a world record US$1 million. After his arrival at the club, Barca enjoyed a greater share of the game’s major honors. Cruyff's assertion that he chose Barca over Real because he could not play for a team associated with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, won him instant admiration in Catalonia. His ability to dictate play set him apart from the rest, and 16 goals in 26 league appearances helped Barca to the title in his debut season. Sadly passed away in 2016.

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Michael Laudrup

Michael Laudrup in action for Barcelona
Michael Laudrup was a superb dribbler with the ball. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

One of the players most similar in style to Cruyff, the Dane was a major player in Barca’s ‘Dream Team’. Cruyff handed Laudrup a free role after signing the player from Juventus in 1989 and was paid back with a flurry of assists for the likes of Stoichkov. His outstanding technique, dribbling ability and range of passing ensured that he was also a huge hit at bitter rivals Real Madrid, who he joined in 1994. Laudrup’s trademark move was to look one way and pass the other.