As we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, some of us may wonder which Bayern Munich players will stand out from this time period. Of course, names like Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Oliver Kahn, Michael Ballack, and Philipp Lahm come to mind. But where would they rank compared to the rest of the world?
A slideshow from The Independent (UK) lists their selections of the top 100 players in the 21st century so far. Some will undoubtedly survive this list until the end (Messi, both Ronaldos), while others may fall off (Falcao, Robin Van Persie).
But for those of us curious (and who want to get into fights in the comments!), this is where former Bayern Munich players stand in the list, plus some select blurbs from the writers.
97. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The meticulous German orchestrated Bayern Munich’s midfield to eight Bundesliga titles and a Champions League, making over 500 appearances for the club. He was also one of the leaders in Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning campaign and carried an aura in the centre of the pitch few players can claim to have replicated.
91. Arturo Vidal
Only the finest players in the world enjoy long and fruitful stints at clubs such as Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Il Guerriero has matured into a splendid holding midfielder, aggressive and dominant in the middle of the pitch but equally as effective arriving late into the box to complete attacks.
80. Toni Kroos
A metronome in the middle, one of the finer passers in the world of football and the beating heart of a number of very successful sides, not least the World Cup winning Germany side of 2014.
78. Thomas Müller
Muller will not be the last player to excel with Bayern and Germany, but he may well be the last sort of his type of player, placing the importance of timing and occupying space above all else in the game.
58. Miroslav Klose
The archetypal target man famously rarely scored from anywhere other than inside the box, but he made the 18-yard area his own in a storied career that saw him score more goals for Germany than anyone before or since.
55. Xabi Alonso
If Roger Federer was a footballer he might have been something like Xabi Alonso: majestic, composed and precise, playing with a wand while barely breaking a sweat.
51. Robert Lewandowski
One of the greatest goalscorers in Bundesliga history after a decade spent between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the Polish striker has won seven league titles. His CV might not be as rounded, having spent his entire prime in Germany, but 60 goals in 110 international games are a testament to his unfaltering consistency.
48. Michael Ballack
A proper box-to-box midfielder who would revel in the big games; dominant in the challenge at the heart of the pitch and in either penalty area.
47. Oliver Kahn
An imposing figure between the sticks, Khan was an intimidating opponent for strikers, making them freeze for just enough time to offer himself enough time to narrow the angles and wipe out danger.
30. Arjen Robben
A mercurial talent who never truly settled in the Premier League, but for a short spell as Chelsea won the title. The flying Dutchman could turn passive possession into danger in a flash with his exceptional control when running at speed. Injuries plagued his time in England with spells at Real Madrid and Bayern establishing himself as one of the greats of his generation.
27. Manuel Neuer
Neuer has raised the bar for what is expected for modern shotstoppers across the globe. Widely considered to be the best goalkeeper of his generation Neuer has won the Bundesliga seven times, a World Cup once and even has a German word, Reklamierarm (the arm of objection), named after him.
14. Philipp Lahm
One of the great defenders of the modern era, although defender hardly covers it. Lahm became an outstanding captain both at Bayern Munich and Germany, and became a gifted midfielder under Pep Guardiola’s coaching.
And that’s it for Bayern players from the list. The top ten go as follows:
10. Fabio Cannavaro
8. Zinedine Zidane
7. Thierry Henry
5. Andres Iniesta
3. Xavi Hernandez
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
1. Lionel Messi
So who got snubbed? Who deserves to be higher? Let us know in the comments.