Messi or Ronaldo? The top 20 players of the last decade

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The Goal 50, our annual list of the world's best players, has been running since 2008, so which superstar has amassed the most votes overall?

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    #20 Dani Alves (150 votes)

    Dani Alves may have missed out on inclusion in this year's Goal 50, primarily because of the injury which quashed his hopes of representing Brazil at the World Cup, but no right-back has racked up more votes since 2008 than the evergreen 35-year-old, who has made our elite list six times in total.

    The Paris Saint-Germain ace has enjoyed success wherever he has played but he played his very best football at Barcelona and finished sixth in the 2009 Goal 50, after playing a key role in the Catalans winning a treble at the end of what was his first year at Camp Nou.

  2. ROMAN KRUCHININ

    #19 Manuel Neuer (157 votes)

    After an injury-ravaged season at Bayern Munich followed by a calamitous World Cup campaign with Germany, Manuel Neuer was never going to add to his six Goal 50 appearances this year.

    However, the man credited with revolutionising the role of the goalkeeper is still only 32, so he could yet better his highest ever finish of 15th, in 2015. 

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    #18 Luka Modric (159 votes)

    Luka Modric is coming off the most incredible season of his career, with the elegant midfielder having helped Real Madrid win a third consecutive Champions League before then guiding Croatia to the final of the World Cup.

    To top it all off, the playmaker has just been unveiled as the winner of the 2018 Goal 50, exactly 12 months after making the podium places for the first time with a third-placed finish.

    At 33, Modric just seems to be getting better and better.

  4. Patrick McDermott

    #17 Wayne Rooney (160 votes)

    Now wowing crowds in MLS with his mix of industry and inspiration, Wayne Rooney makes our top 20 for his heroics during his trophy-laden 13-year spell with Manchester United.

    Indeed, the club's all-time record goalscorer made the Goal 50 five times during his Old Trafford career, ranking as high as 10th in 2009, after helping Sir Alex Ferguson's men win the Premier League title and reach the final of the Champions League.

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    #16 Gianluigi Buffon (170 votes)

    Six-time Goal 50 appearance-maker Gianluigi Buffon had been expected to retire at the end of last season but the Juventus legend instead decided to continue his career at Paris Saint-Germain. And why not?

    Buffon may now be 40 years of age but he remains one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Indeed, the evergreen Italy icon finished second in the Goal 50 just 12 months ago. 

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    #15 Eden Hazard (176 votes)

    One of the game's outstanding attacking talents, Eden Hazard is only 27 years of age yet he has already made the Goal 50 six times. 

    The Belgium international has finished 12th for the past two years but his highest ranking came in 2015, when he took fifth place on the back of a Premier League title triumph with Chelsea.

     

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    #14 Arturo Vidal (176 votes)

    Arturo Vidal may no longer be the force he once was but there is no questioning his status as one of the most dominant midfielders of the past decade, as underlined by the fact that he has featured in the Goal 50 five times.

    The 31-year-old Chilean – who is now bidding to win a league title in Spain with Barcelona having already conquered Germany and Italy with Bayern Munich and Juventus, respectively – even finished seventh in 2015, after driving his country to a first ever Copa America triumph.

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    #13 Arjen Robben (177 votes)

    Arjen Robben hasn't made the Goal 50 for the past three years but the former runner-up remains one of the most popular players in the list's history.

    Indeed, the winger has featured five times in total and, as well as being narrowly beaten to top spot by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014, the Dutchman also finished sixth 12 months previously, after starring for Bayern Munich in their historic treble triumph.

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    #12 Sergio Aguero (186 votes)

    Manchester City's all-time record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero has been one of the most prolific forwards of the past decade. 

    Indeed, despite the Argentine's frustrating fitness problems down the years, he has still managed to make the Goal 50 on six occasions, which includes a 10th-placed finish in our inaugural list in 2008.

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    #11 Gareth Bale (194 votes)

    After missing out completely 12 months ago, Gareth Bale made a triumphant return to the Goal 50 this year, after his two-goal heroics for Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool.

    It represents a sixth G50 outing for the Wales winger, who finished fifth in 2016 after leading his country to the semi-finals of the European Championship in France.

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    #10 Thomas Muller (199 votes)

    Thomas Muller has suffered a dramatic dip in form over the past two years but the attacker featured five times in the Goal 50 between 2010 and 2016.

    His highest ranking arrived in 2013, when he finished fourth thanks to his prominent role in Bayern Munich's treble triumph, but it's also worth noting that he came fifth just 12 months later on the back of Germany's World Cup win.

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    #9 Robert Lewandowski (223 votes)

    Robert Lewandowski is one of the most consistent goalscorers in world football, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the prolific Pole has made the Goal 50 for the past seven years. 

    The Bayern Munich ace slipped to 33rd this year, after a disappointing World Cup, but it was only the second time that he's finished outside the top 20, while it is only two years since his career-high eighth-placed finish.

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    #8 Xavi (234 votes)

    One of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi has been plying his trade in Qatar for the past three years with Al Sadd and hasn't featured in the Goal 50 since 2012.

    In spite of the fact, the legendary Barcelona and Spain playmaker ranks eighth in the overall rankings because the 38-year-old never finished outside the top seven between 2008 and 2012, a remarkable run which included three consecutive third-placed finishes (2009-2011).

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    #7 Neymar (258 votes)

    Barcelona fans were understandably devastated by Neymar's shock departure to Paris Saint-Germain last year, given the Brazilian had long since proven himself one of the best players on the planet.

    Indeed, the Brazilian had already made six previous appearances in the Goal 50 – he's now up to eight – before twice adding to his tally after becoming the most expensive player in history.

    However, Neymar has yet to come close to bettering his fourth-place finish in 2015, when he, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez fired Barca to the treble.

  15. JAVIER SORIANO

    #6 Sergio Ramos (266 votes)

    Love him or loathe him, it's hard not to respect Sergio Ramos and his incredible consistency. 

    After his 20th-placed finish this year, the free-scoring centre-back, who led Real Madrid to Champions League glory in May, has now featured nine times in the Goal 50, even taking fifth place in 2017.

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    #5 Luis Suarez (275 votes)

    One of the great goalscorers of the modern era, Luis Suarez has appeared in eight of the past nine Goal 50 lists.

    Despite hitting 31 goals during Barcelona's double-winning campaign last season, the Uruguay international slipped to 38th this year but he was our runner-up in 2016.

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    #4 Andres Iniesta (296 votes)

    Back in the Goal 50 at the grand old age of 34, Andres Iniesta produced one more midfield masterclass for Barcelona in last season's Copa del Rey final against Sevilla before departing for Japan during the summer.

    The former Spain international has now made the cut nine times in total, ranking fourth in both 2011 and 2012, after finishing as runner-up in 2009.

  18. Harry How

    #3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (329 votes)

    Of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the first to tell you that he's been one of the best players in the world for the past decade but it really is borne out by the Goal 50 voting.

    The Swedish striker, who is now starring Stateside for LA Galaxy, has featured in all but two editions, never ranked outside the top 25, made the top 10 three times and claimed fifth place in 2009.

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    #2 Lionel Messi (534 votes)

    How consistent has Lionel Messi been over the past decade? Well, this year's fifth-placed finish is the Barcelona forward's lowest-ever Goal 50 ranking.

    The Argentine has been an ever-present since the inaugural list in 2008 and has lifted the trophy four times – though not since 2015.

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    #1 Cristiano Ronaldo (534 votes)

    The greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen, Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared in every single edition of the Goal 50.

    The Portugal superstar, who fired Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title in May, has only finished outside the top four once (ninth, in 2010) and has won the award a record five times, which is why he pips four-time winner Messi to top spot.