Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta.
Andres Iniesta is well on his way to becoming one of the finest midfield players of all time, let alone in the world today. With his impressive trophy haul for club and country as well as sublime natural ability, there are few who have achieved more in the game, or who make football look so easy.
The Spaniard has been at Barcelona for his whole career, and it didn’t take long for him to look like a top young talent when he emerged from their youth team. He first appeared in the 2002/03 season, becoming a regular in 2004.
It was perhaps with the arrival of Pep Guardiola that we started to see the very best of Iniesta, as he became a key component of the fantastic ‘tiki-taka’ football deployed by the boss. Iniesta was at his very best as Barcelona won the treble in 2008/09, forming an exceptional, almost telepathic partnership with Xavi in midfield, though we had already seen glimpses of this combination as Iniesta was influential in Barcelona’s Champions League triumph in 2006 and Spain’s victory at Euro 2008.
Iniesta has never been a particularly prolific goal-scorer, but he found the back of the net at the best possible time for Spain, scoring the winner against Holland in the World Cup final in 2010. It was a deserved moment of individual glory for a player who so often makes his team-mates look so good, and he was voted man of the match in this famous triumph. He will go down in history now as perhaps Spain’s best-ever player, and has been so pivotal in turning them into a side known for being under-achievers into serial winners.
In his career to date, the 29-year-old has won six La Liga titles, three Champions League titles, one World Cup, two European Championships, and two Copa Del Reys, as well as numerous individual accolades, often being unfortunate in finishing behind his incredible Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi in the Ballon D’Or awards.
Many have argued that Iniesta is actually a more important player than Messi, with former Manchester United manager notably saying: “I’m not obsessed with Messi, Iniesta is the danger. He’s fantastic. He makes the team work. The way he finds passes, his movement and ability to create space is incredible.”
No one in Europe provided more assists than Iniesta this season, with 16 in the league, and he is showing no signs of slowing down. As well as being a quality player, he is a winner, and shrugged off suggestions that the Spanish national team would not find the motivation to win the Confederations Cup this summer after all their other recent success in more glamorous competitions.