There are 3 kinds of footballers.
1. Journeymen who seek success in every league there is.
2. Players willing to leave their club, in return for more playing time, trophies, money etc.
3. One club men, who stick with their club in good and bad times and in most cases, end up as local legends.
This piece is about the players who belong in the 3rd category. In the age where one’s career is defined by the number of trophies he won or the amount of money he made, players rarely consider a factor called LOYALTY while making up their mind to leave. But there are a few players who look set to retire at their current clubs. Players who place their club’s interests above theirs at all times. Players who are expected to get behind their club in the face of all odds. Here are 5 such names.
5. SERGIO RAMOS
Inspiring a comeback in the UCL final, scoring the equalizer in the El Clasico, shutting out quality attacks to steal an undeserved 3 points, Sergio Ramos has done it all during his time at Real Madrid. The Los Blancos captain has made over 500 appearances for the club, since arriving from Sevilla in 2005. Not only does Ramos regularly bail Madrid out of difficult situations with his defensive skill set, he also scores when his team needs it the most. The Spanish international has scored 50 goals in the La Liga alone. A true leader and a nightmare for strikers, it is safe to assume that Ramos will end his career at the Bernabeu.
4. MANUEL NEUER
A game-reading genius and just a tank between the sticks, Neuer has won everything there is to win with Bayern Munchen. Since arriving at the Allianz Arena from Schalke in 2011, Neuer has gone on to become, arguably the best keeper in the world. He regularly pulls off stunning saves, he knows exactly when to come out for punching or collecting the ball, his passes and kicks find the mark almost all the time and the chances of him committing a blooper is almost nil. Is there anything else a team would want from its keeper? Also, he easily added a new dimension to his game by becoming Pep’s sweeper keeper, something that an experienced Joe Hart wasn’t able to do. Neuer’s current contract ties him to the club till 2021 and the German international too seems keen on hanging up his boots at the Bavarian club. What a legend.
3. CLAUDIO MARCHISIO
The perfect example of an underrated player, Marchisio has been at Juventus his entire life, barring a season long loan at Empoli. Turin’s local boy and a product of Juventus’s youth system, he has gone on to become one of the best central midfielders in the Calcio A. Marchisio is a dynamic box to box midfielder with a great vision and an eye for goal. His presence is crucial to the runaway domestic champions, as he dictates their pace of play and can tear open defenses with one good pass. Marchisio has won the League 5 times and has also reached the UCL finals with his team. He signed a new five year deal with the Bianconeri in 2015. Looks like it will be the Juventus stadium that sees the last of him.
2. GERARD PIQUE
Pique’s love for Barcelona is something that everyone is aware of. Since arriving from Manchester United in 2008, he has won the La Liga 6 times and the Champions League 3 times. Learning the Barca way of defending from the legendary Carlos Puyol, Pique has turned into an aggressive and intelligent center back. He is a pain for strikers as he rarely ever lets them get past, and even if they do, he pulls off a perfectly timed slide tackle to avert the danger. He is also known for his on and off field banter, as he regularly uses social media to taunt Barcelona’s rivals. Such antics have made Pique a fan favorite and each passing day only increases the chances of him retiring in front of them.
From one Catalan to another, Busquets broke into Barcelona’s first team in 2008 under Guardiola. He has only gone from strength to strength since then and has now established himself as pivotal to Barca’s style of play. He is their deep lying playmaker and along with Iniesta, dominates possession in the midfield. Also, he wins the ball back multiple times, allowing Barcelona’s attack to keep flowing. Teams that have managed to defeat the Catalans, basically just kept Busquets quiet for 90 minutes. At 28, he still has a lot to offer and from the looks of things, he’ll offer it to Barcelona. His current contract keeps him at the Camp Nou till 2021, and as the Spaniard is showing no signs of unhappiness at the club, Barcelona in all honesty have themselves another legend.