It can be argued that the football stars of 2012 are amongst the best players of all time as they get professional training from a younger age than previous generations, sports science is advancing all the time and there is more money in the game meaning better facilities for those at the top.
Footballing nations all over the world are producing players that can put in world class performances week in week out on a scale never seen before, here is a rundown some of the very best of them.
Top of the list when it comes to football’s top stars is Lionel Messi. At only 25 he already has over 300 career goals and has enjoyed breaking a number of records in 2012. Messi is now Barcelona’s top goal scorer of all time and his 14 goals in the Champion’s League was the most in one season scored by any player.
As of the end of November, he was also within 3 goals of Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year having already beaten the great Pele’s landmark of 75 goals in a season.
Perhaps the best attacking midfielder of the year has been Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. He helped his team win the Spanish league scoring 46 goals, helped them get to the Champion’s League Semi-final and had a good year internationally, helping his country Portugal to a respectable semi-final spot in EURO 2012.
While known by many as a right back, Sergio Ramos’ performances for both club and country at centre-half this year have been outstanding. Ramos, who has commanded a regular place in the Madrid team since he was 19, was instrumental in helping them win the league, and in helping Spain win EURO 2012.
Despite a heavy 4-0 loss to an irresistible Spain in the final of EURO 2012, Italy and Juventus’ veteran goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, is arguably still the best around. He was a key figure in his club not only winning the 2011/12 title, but going the whole season unbeaten.
The 34 year old Italian national captain, nicknamed ‘Superman,’ has become a legend at the club since joining in 2001, and has recently revealed he intends to end his career there.
Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie has been another shining star of football in 2012 and while he won no major trophies, has been seeing some of the best form of his life.
He finished the 2011/12 season as the English Premiership’s top scorer with 30 goals for Arsenal, and has been unstoppable in front of goal for Manchester United in the first part of the 2012/13 season.
Probably the best young football star of 2012 is the 20 year old Brazilian Neymar. Having already played over 200 games for his club Santos, the Olympic silver medallist looks set to go from strength to strength for the rest of the season and looks set to be one of football’s brightest stars for years to come.