International Football

Power Ranking the World's Top Wingers on Form

Daniel EdwardsFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

Power Ranking the World's Top Wingers on Form

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    Alex Grimm/Getty Images

    The position of winger is one that has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. The growing popularity of 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 lineups has meant that this once-neglected position has again become one of the most important on the pitch. 

    Some of the biggest teams in the world, and certainly all four of 2013's Champions League semi-finalists, are notable for their extensive use of wide men, either in the midfield or as attackers, who amply utilise the flanks. Proof, if any was needed, that wingers are still key in modern football. 

    Taking nine top wingers, this group has been judged statistically in three areas: number of goals, assists, and their effectiveness in picking up points for their team. To ensure consistency across the selection, only domestic league and Champions League games will be included in the count. 

     

    All statistics courtesy of ESPNFC.com

Eden Hazard

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images
    Games9
    Goals3
    Assists1
    Effectiveness17 of 27 points (63 percent)

    The young Belgian is one of the most highly-rated talents currently emerging in the world of football. Despite a mixed season so far for Chelsea, Hazard has shown plenty to suggest that he can live up to the hype. 

    The winger has formed a fluid partnership with Oscar in the middle of the park, which has contributed seven of Chelsea's 14 Premier League goals so far. There is room for improvement at Stamford Bridge, but the Special One's young talents are looking stronger with every game played. 

Angel di Maria

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images
    Games11
    Goals3
    Assists5
    Effectiveness28 of 33 points (84.9 percent)

    The Argentine winger has been somewhat resisted by sections of the Madrid hierarchy. Indeed, he came close to being sold in preseason as a makeweight for Gareth Bale. But while the Welsh star has struggled with injury and form since coming to the Bernabeu, di Maria has stated his intention to fight for his place. 

    Fideo has been ever-present for los Blancos so far this season, and no other player has set up as many goals for the club as the lanky winger. Bale's price tag will make him a favourite to start when fully fit, but he will have a fight on his hands to shift the current occupant off the right flank. 

     

Franck Ribery

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images
    Games11
    Goals4
    Assists3
    Effectiveness26 of 30 points (86.7 percent)

    The Frenchman has not relaxed since winning every trophy going with Bayern last season and has shown himself willing to fit in with Pep Guardiola's new ideas for the Bavarians. Playing in a deeper role than usual as the former Barca man implements a four-man midfield, Ribery has responded with some impressive displays. 

     

Pedro

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
    Games10
    Goals5
    Assists2
    Effectiveness28 of 30 points (93.3 percent)

    Spain international Pedro has become accustomed to playing a support role in Barcelona, running the hard yards down the wing while the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta take international acclaim. His form since Leo's injury, however, suggests that he is capable of playing a vital role for the Blaugrana that deserves more recognition. 

    Five Liga goals so far places Pedro in fourth overall on the top-scorer chart, and only Messi himself has managed more for the Catalans. The La Masia graduate has been a crucial part of Barcelona's almost-perfect start to the season and is well suited to the slightly more direct, vertical football introduced by Gerardo Martino. 

Arjen Robben

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images
    Games10
    Goals5
    Assists3
    Effectiveness28 of 30 points (93.3 percent)

    The Flying Dutchman is known for his blistering pace and ability to hit the net. This season, however, Robben has also demonstrated that he has plenty of talent around the box as he cements his role as one of Bayern's most important providers. 

    A total of five goals and three assists marks the Netherlands international out as one of the most rounded wingers in the game, equally happy laying on chances for his teammates as he is going alone. And having won 93 percent of available points with Bayern so far, he is tied with Pedro as the most effective player on this list. 

Neymar

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
    Games10
    Goals2
    Assists6
    Effectiveness28 of 30 points (93.3 percent)

    First seasons in European football are never easy for South American talents. Neymar, however, has made it all look rather straightforward since completing his summer blockbuster move from legendary Brazilian club Santos. 

    Playing out on the left in Barca's famed attacking trident, the youngster has proved there is more to his game than fancy tricks. Six assists in 10 games marks an unselfishness which surprised some of the more uninformed critics who were unaware of his self-sacrifice, while a 93.3 percent success rate with the Blaugrana shows his value. 

Marco Reus

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    Alex Grimm/Getty Images
    Games11
    Goals6
    Assists2
    Effectiveness28 of 33 points (84.9 percent)

    In the absence of Mario Goetze, Borussia Dortmund star winger has taken the team on his shoulders and ensured that Juergen Klopp's men have repeated the same stellar football that took them to last season's Champions League final. 

    Posting more than a goal every two games so far as well as a respectable assist record, it is clear that Reus will be key to BVB's chances if they wish to repeat or improve on an immensely frustrating 2012/'13. 

Koke

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    David Ramos/Getty Images
    Games11
    Goals2
    Assists7
    Effectiveness30 of 33 points (90.9 percent)

    Atletico Madrid have been the revelation of the European season so far, despite the fact that Espanyol managed to cut short an incredible eight consecutive Liga wins with Saturday's 1-0 victory. Young winger Koke, alongside Diego Costa, has been key to the Colchoneros' revival. 

    Two goals and an impressive seven assists, the most of any player on this list, have helped Atletico pick up 30 of the 33 points they have disputed in 2013/'14. At just 21 the winger has a sparkling future ahead of him, as he continues to take the plaudits. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images
    Games11
    Goals13
    Assists2
    Effectiveness28 of 33 points (84.9 percent)

    Even as his team struggles to find top gear, Cristiano Ronaldo is well on the way to posting another exceptional season. With 13 goals already in La Liga and the Champions League, he far outstrips his rivals on this list. 

    The clear black mark on the Portuguese winger's record is the level of service given to his teammates: With just two assists, he ranks bear the bottom of the nine stars ranked here. But this fault cannot hide the fact that CR7 is one of the most effective players currently active in world football. 

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