Is Puyol, Xavi & Messi football's greatest spine?

Following the news that the trio have agreed long-term deals at Camp Nou, considers if the beautiful game has ever seen a better backbone than the Blaugrana's
It is fair to say that December 18, 2012 is - and will be remembered as - one of the happiest days in Barcelona's 113-year history.

If the revelation of Eric Abidal's hugely anticipated comeback from a liver transplant was not enough, there was also the small matter of new contracts being agreed by Xavi, Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi.

From starting out as youngsters in La Masia, the trio have been credited by many sections of the footballing media as the protagonists behind the Catalan giants' trophy sweep under Pep Guardiola.

However,'s very own Spanish Football Writer Ben Hayward stirred debate on Twitter (@bghayward) when he asked readers whether the current spine of the Barcelona side formed the sport's greatest backbone.

It is understood that a side's spine is made up of one central defender, one central midfielder and a central forward, like Puyol, Xavi and Messi - and they must have played together in the same team. Here are some of the best suggestions we have received:

@aaronesh put forward the nucleus of Arsenal's 'invincibles' team from the 2003-04 campaign which consisted of Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.

But for @shinaR9_99, the Galacticos appeal proved too much as he named Fernando Hierro, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo - the catalysts of Real Madrid's success in the early 2000s.

Meanwhile, @TahsinHaque89 opted to turn the clock back to the era of Liverpool dominance in the 1980s and highlight the all-Scottish core of Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish.

Staying in England, @GibMaXimus83 argues that former Manchester United performers Jaap Stam, Roy Keane and Andy Cole drove the Red Devils to an unprecedented treble.

Moving down south, @demon432 gave a shout-out to Chelsea stars of the present and past in John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, as years of domestic glory culminated in a maiden Champions League last season.

On the international scene, @arianeferreira plumped for Zico, Falcao and Socrates of Brazil's 1982 World Cup squad - commonly regarded as the tournament's best side never to have won the trophy.

And last but not least, our deputy editor Carlo Garganese (@carlogarganese) chimed in with Franco Baresi, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten of the late 1980s, 1974 German World Cup winners Franz BeckenbauerRainer Bonhof and Gerd Muller, and ex-Juventus heroes Gaetano ScireaMarco Tardelli and Michel Platini.

Continue to have your say on football's greatest spine by sharing your opinions in the comments box below!