Wow, this was tough to limit this to 10 players. I originally had 15 and it was tough to take 5 of those players off because they all deserved to be on the list. Just like with the Real Madrid article, you will not see any current Barcelona players on the list. So that means no Messi although he certainly seems like he’ll end up being 1st when he retires.
While he had a longer career at Real Madrid, Ronaldo touched down in Barcelona for a couple years. While there, as a 20 year old, Ronaldo wouldn’t let anyone get in his way. There was simply no stopping Ronaldo.
9. Hristo Stoichkov
Hristo Stoichkov had two stints at Barcelona and is most remembered for being a part of Johan Cruyff’s “dream team” in the early 90’s. As a part of the “Dream Team,” Stoichkov won a European Cup and 4 straight La Liga titles. He was also instrumental in Bulgaria taking 4th place in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Rivaldo scored some of the most beautiful goals you will ever see. One of the more underrated Barcelona players, Rivaldo spent the majority of his 16 team, 23 year career at Barcelona. Rivaldo had 86 goals in his Barcelona career and won 2 La Liga titles.
Before there was continental play, Cesar became an important part of the success of Barcelona. Winning 5 La Liga titles in the 40’s and 50’s, Cesar also held the Barcelona scoring record with 232 goals. Lionel Messi broke the near 60 year record in 2012.
6. Carles Puyol
One of the best defenders in soccer, Carles Puyol was instrumental in Barcelona’s recent success as well as Spain’s dominance in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. The Barcelona “lifer” made things incredibly difficult for opponents. After retiring this year, Barcelona has had to adjust to Puyol’s absence. They’re doing well so far but I’m sure they would love to have Puyol back for just a little while longer.
5. Laszlo Kubala
I didn’t know much about Laszlo Kubala before I wrote this article but from what I read and saw, Kubala was a special player. The amount of skill in his passing, dribbling and scoring, the closest comparison I could come up with was that he was a European Pele. Just simply special. Interesting tidbit, Kubala played for 3 FIFA recognized countries (Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain).
4. Pep Guardiola
Many think of Pep Guardiola as the legendary manager but he was an even better player and was the rock for the “Dream Team” in the 90’s. He commanded the middle of the field with intelligence and intensity and that led into his managerial career.
3. Diego Maradona
One of the greats in soccer, Maradona had a brief stint at Barcelona in the mid 80’s. In 58 games, he scored 38 goals but those two seasons were filled with injuries and disagreements with management.
Ronaldinho was a master of goal scoring. There was simply nothing like Ronaldinho. The guy could score from anywhere and had the skills to beat anyone. If Kubala was the European Pele, Ronaldinho was a modern day Pele. While his best days are behind him, he is still playing in Mexico. Even so, it’s still hard to believe that he’s still 34.
1. Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff is the complete package. Cruyff was the embodiment of “Total Football” and spent 5 seasons at Barcelona as a player. Cruyff was the innovator of the playing style so many people play today and has the distinction of being someone who people strive to be both as a player and a manager. Much of the modern success of Barcelona is the result of Johan Cruyff. I know I’m cheating a little bit and am somewhat including his managerial career but Barcelona wouldn’t have most of the success it has had in the past 40 years if it wasn’t for Johan Cruyff. That’s why he’s #1.