17. Xavi

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DEBUT: 1998
TEAM(S): Barcelona

There hasn't been a more remarkable individual improvement story since Lil Wayne. Barcelona's pass master has been the conductor of the Blaugrana symphony since Pep Guardiola took over in the 2008-09 season. A youth product of the club, Xavi's been around since the days of Rivaldo, but, although talented, was often overshadowed by big-ticket talents Deco and Ronaldinho in midfield. In fact, Xavi was left on the bench for the 2006 final triumph over Arsenal in Paris. But he was named man of the match in the Catalan giants' mauling of Man United three years later in Rome, and this Saturday, the little man with the sleepy eyes will take the field as the player generally regarded as the best central midfielder on the planet. #noquittergogetter

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