Ashley Williams has named his top five playmakers in world football as part of Virgin Bet’s ‘Five of the Best Playmakers’ series.
On this occasion, Williams is focusing on one specific footballing skillset. Here are the five players he picked:
The first playmaker pick by Ashley Williams is an obvious one – Lionel Messi.
The Argentinian icon has lit up world football for over 15 years, winning 38 trophies or titles across domestic and international levels. He has also lifted seven Ballon d’Or‘s. His most recent success was in the 2021 edition, where he beat Robert Lewandowski to the top prize.
Williams said: “Since I’ve been watching football, [he’s] the greatest playmaker. If you want to talk about making a play, he’s going to do that. He’s done it consistently for years and years.
“It’s just his patience, his balance, his technique. It’s like no other. The way he moves the ball, there’s not many that can do that.
“Also, the way he delivers at a big moment in a game. He’s done it for years, in big finals.”
Ashley Williams’s second pick is a former Barcelona team-mate of Lionel Messi in Andres Iniesta. The midfield legend is a club icon at the Nou Camp.
“He was just a complete midfield player,” Williams said. “In possession, I think his first touch, his vision, his pitch geography, his awareness, he had it all.
“The way he could ghost past players, the way he’d see a pass. The weight of pass was always perfect.
“In that Barcelona team, where they had so many good attacking players, he was integral to everything they were doing.”
The third pick of Ashley Williams is a player that is still near the top of his game today – Luka Modric.
It was only last week that the Croatian played a sublime through ball to assist Karim Benzema in Real Madrid‘s 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. The piece of play is one of many that has distinguished Modric above his peers throughout his career.
Detailing what it was like to play against him, Williams explained: “He could change the tempo of a game. He’d slow it down, speed it up; he’d always be available.
“He had a great low centre of gravity. His balance was always good. He just moved, shifted to the ball all over the pitch and was just a really tough player to play against.
“He would put so many disguises on every through ball or every long pass. His body shape – he’d be going one way, and he shifts. Everyone, all 21 other players, are still moving the other way, and he’s gone.”
Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgian has become an icon at the Etihad Stadium. Undoubtedly one of the Premier League’s best midfielders, he has recorded over 130 goal contributions in the league since he arrived at the club in 2015.
Williams explained: “When he is on the pitch, the game is never out of sight for Manchester City or Belgium.
“His technique is so good. He can see a pass, and he’ll execute it. He can score with both feet. You can’t push him onto his right or left; he’s equally good on both.
“I think he’s just a pleasure to watch. If I’m watching football as a fan, he’s the type of player that I want to be seeing week in, week out.”
Ashley Williams’s fifth and final playmaker pick is Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard.
The Belgian enjoyed his best footballing years at Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles and established himself as one of the leading playmakers in world football. His final season at Chelsea saw him register an incredible 14 goals and 15 assists in the league.
Williams said: “He’s a nightmare to play. He’s another one with a low centre of gravity, balance. He moves like no-one else I’ve ever been on a pitch with.
“He can skip past players. Just when you think you’ve got him cornered, he can get out of it. It’ll take you the length of the pitch when you’re scared to try and have a nibble at the ball. You know he is going to skip past you.
“In his prime, he was one of the best players in the world.”
Featured Image Credit: Getty
This is part of a paid partnership with Virgin Bet.
Visit Virgin Bet for full T&Cs. Players must be 18+. Be Gamble Aware.