Best/Greatest 'Playmaker/s' Ever

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by PDG1978, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I saw this nice attempt at a top 25 Playmakers list, which I thought about posting in the Interesting Links thread, but then I thought it might make a good discussion topic on it's own....

    I haven't read it in detail yet, but there is a good introduction and explanation and I can see the ideas behind each inclusion in the list which I skimmed through but will post here too (partly as the page might be slow to load or need refreshing it seems at times) - I haven't thought about what my own top 25 or top 1 would be at this stage so we can all think through that together as we discuss things and think in depth about what isn't a straightforward topic I think:
    http://www.thesportster.com/soccer/top-25-greatest-playmakers-ever/
    1 - Diego Maradona
    2 - Johan Cruyff
    3 - Alfredo Di Stefano
    4 - Lionel Messi
    5 - Michael Laudrup
    6 - Zinedine Zidane
    7 - Luis Suarez Miramontes
    8 - Michel Platini
    9 - Didi
    10 - Jose Manuel Moreno
    11 - Zico
    12 - Andrea Pirlo
    13 - Enzo Francescoli
    14 - Gianni Rivera
    15 - Xavi
    16 - Rivelino
    17 - Juan Schiaffino
    18 - Socrates
    19 - Ronaldinho
    20 - Paul Scholes
    21 - Francesco Totti
    22 - Roberto Baggio
    23 - Franz Beckenbauer
    24 - Dennis Bergkamp
    25 - Gheorghe Hagi



    There are quite a few questions we'd need to ask ourselves individually or collectively probably to determine what we are looking at firstly. The author clarifies 'Playmaker' as a role rather than position which I think is correct. But apart from whether we look at long-term greatness or peak performance/ability (or both but to what extent each?) there is also the question of whether we just think about who will qualify as a playmaker or great playmaker and rank them as we would in a greatest/best players list overall, or whether we judge who is the best/greatest at playmaking itself having determined everything that goes into that. I think the author might have done that latter, but not sure.

    I had a go previously at best passers and best creators (second might be close to best playmakers but not necessarily the same I guess) but this seems a hard call but interesting to think about and discuss. From what I read and also to the extent I was able to see then Juan Schiaffino seems to fit the description well. Does Jose Manuel Moreno definitely too, irrespective of how good/great he is deemed or estimated to have been? Pele is not considered a playmaker or a good enough playmaker by the author it seems, while various other GOAT candidates are, and Roberto Baggio is too - is that correct? I do think it's a nice piece anyway, but need to read the descriptions more completely to appreciate it fully - but thought I'd kick off this thread in the meantime.
     
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  2. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    A brainstorm of the things that I think can be considered to go into 'Playmaking' (maybe some are debateable; maybe some more can be added):
    - Opening up defences to provide direct chances, often with unpredictable and creative passes and skills (example of a player that excels here: Michael Laudrup)
    - Advancing the play into advantageous attacking areas so that the team has better chances to finish creating openings after the playmaking (example of a player that excels here: Michel Platini)
    - Using pure skills and/or dribbling to make space where there was none and using that space to put a team-mate or the team in general in a good attacking position (example of a player that excels here: Ronaldinho)
    - Slick control and giving and receiving crisp passes that advance the play well and/or put a team-mate through on goal, often with ground passes (example of a player that excels here: Carlos Valderrama)
    - Accurate/precise passes into space or direct to a team-mates boot, often lofted and/or angled (example of a player that excels here: Glenn Hoddle)
    - Generally maintaining possession and moving the ball around intelligently and precisely and often promptly, enhancing the cohesiveness of midfield play and helping keep the ball and also give opportunities to the attack (example of a player that excels here: Xavi)
    - Making or exploiting spaces from deep with dribbling and bursts followed by quality use of the ball to find team-mates, preferably in good attacking positions (example of a player that excels here: Franz Beckenbauer)
    - Having good intuition about how to escape into space with the ball and how to help the team progress up the pitch in a constructive way (example of a player that excels here: Osvaldo Ardiles).



    And to go back onto the discussion about how we look at this: Considering Johan Cruyff for example I'm sure we'd all agree that in WC74 he was doing a lot of playmaking in various ways, and was really the main playmaker of his team albeit from a false 9 sort of position (that effectively became AM a lot of the time) - both in terms of direct chance creation as well as general invention and distribution of the ball. But it could be that someone might even judge that he was even more of a playmaker or a better playmaker very late in his career at Ajax again and then Feyenoord. So are we looking at the aggregate of both (and other) periods, or picking one, or perhaps even looking at whatever his peak is determined to be? It could make a difference if comparing him as 'Playmaker' to say Gianni Rivera I guess, especially if someone viewed his peak as pre-1974, but saw Rivera's peak both as playmaker and player as late 60's perhaps. My first idea is that perhaps those two, plus Michel Platini, Michael Laudrup and Didi could make my top 5 but not really sure.....

    For now though I thought I'd just add another 25 options that come to mind:
    - Glenn Hoddle
    - Gerson
    - Nils Liedholm
    - Rui Costa
    - Gunter Netzer
    - Paulo Roberto Falcao
    - Carlos Valderrama
    - Osvaldo Ardiles
    - Kazimierz Deyna
    - Ricardo Bochini
    - Dejan Savicevic
    - Dragan Stojkovic
    - Safet Susic
    - Jozsef Bozsik
    - Florian Albert
    - Nandor Hidegkuti
    - Giancarlo Antognoni
    - Cesar Cueto
    - David Beckham
    - Josep Guardiola
    - Juan Roman Riquelme
    - Zizinho
    - Alain Giresse
    - Jean Tigana
    - Eric Cantona

    (Did it fairly quick so might have missed some I'd have included otherwise but thought I'd introduce more names into the discussion).
     
  3. el-torero

    el-torero Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    malaysia
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    i find it funny when zidane has been considered as one of the greatest playmaker

    the greatest playmaker that failed to playmake for thierry henry (arsenal's greatest player in all time) in france's shirt

    :)
     
  4. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    in general, i can understand his choices, though i don't agree with everyone, i see consistencies in his ranking for the most part. his first 6 choices are all players that were known for dribbling and passing on some relatively high level. but i don't understand why he put ronaldinho at 19, if luis suarez, platini, and pirlo were probably much better known for the passing abilites from a deep center midfielder role but they rank at 7, 8, and 12 respectively. but from about 7-15 most of these players are probably the type of playmakers who depend primarily on combining with their teammates to create plays as opposed to dribbling. roberto baggio also seems to be somewhat out of place when you consider his ability to dribble is pretty damn good


    although there is no way in hell Pele should not be on the list. i want to discredit him just because of that. obviously, he thinks that pele was purely a goal scorer and needs to do some further research or he has some serious bias.
     
  5. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I think he's just not classing Pele as a playmaker probably. In Zico's write-up he does seem to suggest Pele is the best player ever all things considered I think (unless he just means he topped the IFFHS poll).

    I guess with Pele (as with Cruyff) it could also be questionable if his peak as player and peak as playmaker (or even role as playmaker or semi-playmaker) coincided but I do tend to think if Baggio makes it then so can Pele myself.
     
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  6. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    I think 1970 and 1977 would fit the most as years where Pele/Cruijff were perceived as the best performers in the world by a sizable portion (or a major candidate for that tag) and achieved their playmaking peak while applying for aforementioned criterium. When they were perceived as an 'elite class' performer I think we're looking at those two years especially.

    Pelé was at the Cosmos in some years and phases the most like a midfielder (when he tried to be a real attacking midfielder in 1969 articles appeared that not everyone was sold or happy) but it's possible that he wasn't even the best player in the league. Unlike e.g. Best who won the 1976 press vote (he was indeed in good shape, more so than before or after) or Cruijff later (won press vote in 1979, 1980).

    In all the cases (thus also Maradona and a striker as Denis Law) I had to think of the video link I posted a while ago - that they appreciate this in other sports like american football and basketbal - concerning the need to not barge into traffic (click) and the scoring/creating zones after eight full-time seasons or so. Esp. for 1970s, 1980s European football (the 'red card rule' is from 1982, which protected midfielders a bit - helped by TV cameras positions - and ten years later on forwards too).
     
  7. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Yes, I think taking the wide definition of playmaker (not restricted to a certain role in a certain area of the pitch) then also 73/74 for Cruyff certainly and probably at least 70-74 really (I know you've pointed to his false 9 like role developing from early 70's before) - the second part of my initial comment about questionable playmaking or semi-playmaking role was aimed more at Pele btw, if thinking of the 61-64 period. But ofc if the Cruyff of the 60's (or some point in the 60's) was called his best version then he'd at least be less of a playmaker, even if with plenty of creative ability and assist making skills.

    Whether Pele of 1970 would be one of the top 5 playmakers or top 5 players who qualify as great playmakers could be arguable I suppose. To distinguish - I'd say for example Cruyff in 1974 was perhaps the best playmaker in World Cup history (and IMO top 2 player in a single WC); wheras Maradona in 1986 was probably (assuming people put him over Cruyff, and indeed Pele for example which would seem consensus I believe even among the majority of those who saw Pele as the best of last Century all in all or perhaps at peak too) the best performing player who qualifies as playmaker in World Cup history (while being less of an outright playmaker as he was at Napoli later in terms of his passing and vision I suppose...and his role too I'd say....so where he ranks purely for playmaking in the World Cup is more questionable if you known what I mean?).

    I hope this doesn't get too confusing! I thought I'd done not too bad with my second post in giving some examples of facets of playmaking anyway lol!
     
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  8. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Although it'd be easy to go on mentioning names I do think the two that come to mind that I could/should/would have probably mentioned earlier too might be Raymond Kopa and Enzo Scifo.

    If it was a case of taking a bit longer and taking two out of the above list, then I guess maybe Beckham (elite assister, but not so much all-encompassing playmaker I'd say) and Guardiola (as great and precise as his passing from deep in midfield was) could come out.
     
  9. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    You can mention former striker (in the youth levels) Scirea too as a playmaking defender. He himself cited/mentioned Kaiser of course as one of his major influences. For full-backs Carlos Alberto, Krol or in modern times Lahm or the ageing Dani Alves but I suppose fullbacks cannot be called 'elite' playmakers (unless also deployed as sweeper or defensive midfielder on occasions)
     
  10. overmars2001

    overmars2001 Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Yes this was my thought as well. Zizou, I wouldn't say was a top playmaker at all, he was an AM to me but not a playmaker really. He held the ball too long and wasn't always trying to actually 'play make' for Henry. I'm not sure Maradona is really actually described as a playmaker either.

    You named a lot of good options so not many missing but I'd also add Bochini, Rivaldo
     
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  11. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Yes, possibly next in mind for a defender might have been Scirea. Behind Beckenbauer more on physical than technical/creative capabilities I'd say but that still helps playmaking ultimately too I guess (and Beckenbauer maybe was a more elusive dribbler as well as covering the ground quicker/easier?). Any defender that would be anywhere near the top 25 playmakers or so would have to be pretty special on the ball of course though.

    Krol is a good call too, and he, compatriot Ronald Koeman, and Bobby Moore at least hold their own with the best in the passing department I think (especially medium to long range).
     
  12. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Thierry Henry in 2006 commenting on zidane's return to the French national team
    "What I'm about to say is strong . in France everybody realised GOD exists and that he is back in the French national team
    Zidane is god and there is nothing much else to say"
    http://uk.soccerway.com/news/2005/august/5/henry-hails-god-zidane/

    it is true however that zidane hardly made any assists for henry in the NT(I think only 1 :laugh:)which goes a long way to proving he could be very selfish when he wanted to(that's not to say he didn't create numerous goals and goal chances for his other NT teammates,I believe he had around 30+ straight assists for France which is a VERY respectable assist tally for a playmaker)

    (Here are quite a few of them but by no means all his assists)
     
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  13. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Hagi is way to low(below Totti and socrates NO WAY!!)
    Based on natural talent alone he is good as nearly any playmaker of the last 25 years the only thing that hurts him in the eyes of many is that he played the vast majority of his career in sub par leagues
    his left foot was almost the 8th wonder of the world ,he literally could do anything with it
     
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  14. el-torero

    el-torero Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    malaysia
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    from my point of view, playmaker is not necessarily play as a midfield

    you can be a goalkeeper, defender or striker, as long as you playmake for the team

    if pele consistently playmake for his team, he should be considered as a playmaker
     
  15. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Yeah, it'd be interesting to know which order he'd rate them in as players as opposed to just playmakers (like I say I suspect he was rating who were the best playmakers as opposed to which playmakers were the best players) but it could be he'd raise Hagi over those two which I think, largely based on overall range of capabilities like you say, I'd tend to do myself although maybe I'd see it as quite close at least.

    He definitely was creative and with excellent vision. But I suppose that left foot and it's ability to shoot with great power/accuracy/finesse/regularity was a great string to his bow that wouldn't be anything to do with playmaking (though the same left foot helps him re: playmaking too ofc yeah). Although the more footage that surfaces of Socrates the more can be seen about his own shooting ability and how often he scored from outside the box etc I think, and Totti being a semi-forward was a pretty decent scorer at least himself. I think you're right about what is perceived to go against Hagi (performing at his best for Romanian/Turkish/lower league Italian clubs and not absolutely making his mark as a bona fide world star at Barcelona or even Real Madrid overall) but I suppose on his side would be his WC94 which individually I think would be seen as better than Socrates's in 1982 or Totti's Euro 2000 (which is a 'lesser' tournament anyway).

    In terms of playmaking he has the edge on them in agility (which can help make angles for passes, help open up space etc when combined with his quick feet and ball skills). He'd be 3rd in backheel passes in that little sub-competition though I suppose!:ROFLMAO:. Maybe 3rd in vision/ideas but not sure? Possibly behind Totti in long/medium passing?

    I know what you mean though. Not to constantly downgrade Baggio in my posts lol (I can see ko's point in a way in terms of if the author was considering dribbling a big asset and giving it full consideration as a playmaking characteristic) but while I'd personally rate him over Hagi as a player I think prime to prime (but outside of the clutch moments I suppose, partly due to fitness issues I think, he wasn't as good as Hagi in WC94 in general play though I think it can still be fair to say he had a better tournament even if not quality wise the better individual performance/s of the two in their best games) and maybe moreso over career as a whole even, my call for playmaking would be Hagi over Baggio I think (and as has been said by a few of us not just because Hagi was more of a midfield player). Over Dragan Stojkovic as playmaker though? Hmm, not sure (but probably as player overall - and Stojkovic ended up even more out of the main scene for quite a while anyway!).
     
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  16. wm442433

    wm442433 Member

    Sep 19, 2014
    Club:
    FC Nantes
    #16 wm442433, Nov 18, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
    The ones who copy on the ones who copy etc. say 30 or 31 (incl. famous mags).
    Others who really did the search/ verified/ visualized it all like a site which is called SelectionA says 25 from memory, me on blog say 21. To each his criterias and for me they're all in here. Even included one that I don't count in his total with the Pirès goal against Turkey in '96 which is quite limit case (written + Pirès in description). Others that would be missing where simply no "assists" to me (no assists to be counted).
    Now, btw, I have one (video) for Pirès (on dailymotion) where one assist is missing (one that counts according to my criterias and features well on the card that I made on him) what is written in the description and commentaries but obviously not in the video itself (the images exist, it was an oversight when making first the card then the video).

    I'll re-consider it if you find the ones who would be missing in your view as it seems you disagree on the number (I have not the intention to re-research it myself as I have already spent some time on it, and that I can do some corrections by making cards for other players/teammates, by making cross-checks, that happened a couple of times...like for Pirès as said above, v Portugal...I have 100+ France NT players' cards of matches, goals and assists now).
     
  17. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Interesting PM that you sent me with highlighting the section at 34:00. I wasn't aware of the video, no.


    Brian Clough prefers to highlight the creative ability for others rather than anything else, but it is indeed true that he played more advanced than later (because Barcelona needed it). But with this in hand you might argue indeed that he was already playmaking to an extent that it is the foremost thing a phenomenal manager as Clough likes to highlight. By the way, I hadn't seen the first scene before, but I still recognize it. It is against Poland in 1973. It recognize it from the shirts and also knowing that he had indeed the assist here plus the newspaper descriptions. In the Shoot! archives there was a quote by Clough with him saying that "Cruijff makes plays without playing" - as a joke with some half-truth in it.

    Also the other introductions for players are good. Very nice!

    Maybe you like what he says here after 3:25 to Gary Lineker. I did like his answer, by both highlighting the free role he had (in the 'Age of Innocence' book Schon says the same about Der Kaiser, with "others adapting to his individualism") and the clubs he played for. It's humility, simple and a cold answer if you know what I mean.



    Tend to think that Moore and Krol had less of a free role (as well as Baresi at many occasions, compared to Scirea).
     
  18. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Thanks, I'll take a look over the weekend and yeah I agree re: Scirea's role in the sense that he was allowed to roam forwards (off the ball too I think) it seems more often I think (maybe with Moore the distinction is less because he was nominally a wing half still, in 1966 WC at least for example as opposed to later?). Until Scirea took more the role of centre-back (in a partnership) as opposed to proper libero anyway (which Baresi did too late in his career, and for more of what's considered his prime even if clearly he still went forwards with the ball).

    Not sure whether I'd seen the Deyna goal Clough liked so much either, or maybe his praise just drew my attention to it more - definitely a nice goal. Interestingly Deyna was more of a central playmaker I suppose so that's a contra example, showing him scoring. But he was impressed with Cruyff's vision and weight of pass, as well as skills/turning abilities I noticed yeah (as well as comparing his famous, if not typical I suppose, header, to Tommy Lawton! while Deyna's skills were compared to Tom Finney too).
     
  19. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

    Jun 7, 2000
    Baltimore
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Gibraltar
    He often gets criticized for not starring when he got his chances at the two super clubs, but it's a bit unfair. He had two very strong seasons at Real Madrid (1990-1992), it's just not remembered because the club didn't win anything those two seasons.

    But two things to remember when putting his career in context. His time at Steaua and Galatasaray were the best moments in both those clubs' histories. Steaua was one of the best clubs in Europe at the time. Hagi came after Steaua's famous '86 European Cup title, but his first contribution was scoring the winner in the following year's Super Cup against Dynamo Kyiv. He then won 3 straight Romanian league titles and led the team to another European Cup final and a semifinal. His career at a top Western European club would have been longer, but the Romanian government didn't let him transfer even though all the super clubs were interested.

    The other factor to remember is that although he closed his career in a smaller league like Turkey, he also achieved things that nobody else that has ever played in that league could achieve. He led that Galatasaray team to four straight league titles, a UEFA Cup title against Arsenal and a Super Cup final against Real Madrid. Basically the highest pinnacle ever achieved by any Turkish club.

    Sometimes it's easy to be credited with achievement when you play for a super club with world class team mates. But some might say it's more noteworthy when you take a good team and make them greater than they've ever been before or since. He did that for three teams in his career ... at Steaua, at Galatasaray and Romanian NT.
     
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  20. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    I can understand why you see neither Zizou or Maradona as playmakers (I'd also understand if the reverse call is made; Zidane does have a very high assist ratio in the Champions League matches he played but of course he played for strong teams who were strong in the attack). But why do you see Rivaldo as a playmaker? For Brazil he was maybe, but for Deportivo and Barcelona I'd expect he ticks even fewer boxes dan Zizou or D10S so to speak.
     
  21. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Yes, I actually saw the next bit (about Cruyff) on Football Focus today too, but nice to see the discussion about goals and yeah he indicates he played a role that doesn't exist so much today I think (albeit he wasn't really a 'spare' man like say Sammer would have been in the 3-5-2 - maybe it helped that Koeman could score from 'only' about mid-way into the opponents half sometimes haha!).
     
  22. overmars2001

    overmars2001 Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Different tiers. I was looking at Zizou and Maradona relative to their ranks on the initial list. Bochini and Rivaldo were just to round out the massive top 50+ list.
     
  23. objectiveneutral

    Oct 30, 2014
    Zidane being ahead of Xavi and Pirlo as a playmaker invalidates the list
     
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  24. Ozora

    Ozora Member+

    Aug 5, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea LFC
    Pirlo above Totti? Ok.
    Also assit is not enough to say the whole story
     
  25. Milan05

    Milan05 Member

    Dec 2, 2015
    Club:
    AC Milan
    Xavi and Totti should be higher (Xavi should be nailed on top 10). Pirlo should be a bit lower (perhaps I'm being more critical towards my favorites). Zidane should be a bit lower.
     

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