Is Vieira the best in the world?

Last updated : 11 November 2002 By Martyn Elliott

Best in the world?
Sir Bobby described him as immense, Gary Speed as the best midfielder he has played against and Kieron Dyer as the best player in the world.

That man was Patrick Vieira.

The 26-year-old midfielder has established himself as a world star since joining the Gunners and has won 60 caps for France, capturing the World Cup and Euro 2000 in the process.

The double Double winner is strong in defence, a fantastic passer of the ball and is capable of popping up with vital goals. Above all he is a winner, the type of player which any team would be proud to have.

I agree with Dyer when he describes Vieira as the best player in the world, but who are the other contenders for that title?

Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Brazil)

Discovered by Sir Bobby, the Brazilian forward’s career has been dogged by injury. But that hasn’t stopped him collecting two World Cup winners and one runners up medals. His record of 45 goals in 64 internationals puts him in the all time great category and at £20million he looks far better value than Rio Ferdinand. It’s a shame that he will always be better remembered for the controversy surrounding the 1998 World Cup final than for his footballing skills.

Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid & France)

Zizou may be heading towards the veteran stage of his career but is still capable of producing moments of magic that no other current player can. His list of winner’s medals includes the World Cup, Euro 2000 and the Champions League and he looks full value for his £45million transfer fee.

Rivaldo (AC Milan & Brazil)

Another of Sir Bobby’s favourites and a summer transfer target for us, the midfield is famous for goals and cheating in equal measure. Continually falls out with people and scores vital goals, such as his overhead kick for Barcelona against Valencia, we probably had a lucky escape when the Brazilian signed for AC Milan.

David Beckham (Manchester United & England)

The England captain is often described as one of the best players in the world, but to my mind he can’t match the skills of some of the others featured here. His performance for England against Greece at Old Trafford will remain in the memory for a long time though, as one of the finest individual displays i’ve been privileged to see.

Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich & Germany)

The 26-year-old midfielder is that rare beast, a German footballer with flair. Ballack almost single handedly guided Bayer Leverkusen to the Champions League final and Germany to the World Cup final last season, but has struggled to find his feet in Munich. Still if Bayern want to offload him there will be plenty of clubs in the queue.

Pablo Aimar (Valencia & Argentina)

The little midfielder with the seventies haircut commanded a transfer fee of £13.6million when he was still a teenager. At 23 he is now ready to become the central figure in the Argentinian national team and if you haven’t seen him play ask a Liverpool fan about his performance in the Mestalla.

Thierry Henry (Arsenal & France)

Arguably the most talented footballer in the world, capable of scoring great goals from anywhere on the pitch. At 25 his trophy cabinet already includes everything but the Champions League, but doubts remain over his temperament and his ability to score in crucial games at both club and international level.

Michael Owen (Liverpool & England)

Recently voted European footballer of the year Owen has already had a phenomenal international career. He has yet to capture any major honours yet, but if you want somebody to score in a big game this your man.

Roy Keane (Manchester United & Ireland)

One of the most hated men in football, but anybody who doesn’t want him in their team is mad. A fearsome defender, great in the air, a regular goalscorer and rarely gives the ball away, almost the complete midfielder.

Raul (Real Madrid & Spain)

The 25-year-old has already scored 28 times in 57 times for Spain and has Champions League and Primera Liga winner’s medals galore. Superb goalscorer against poor teams, but doubts remain as to whether or not he can handle high pressure games.

Hasan Sas (Galatasaray & Turkey)

Arguably the player of the World cup finals, this attacking midfielder is capable of unlocking any defence. Set for a free-transfer move in the summer.

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