The best one-club men in modern football
Loyalty is hard to come by in modern football. With the amount of money tossed around now, especially in Europe it’s rare we see a player spend the entirety of their career at just one club. Long gone are the days of Jamie Carragher, Francesco Totti and Paolo Maldini who represented the same teams throughout the entirety of their playing days.
Even the greatest of all time Lionel Messi, who many thought would stay at Barcelona forever, failed to renew his contract and departed for Paris Saint-Germain last summer. It goes to show how hard it is to find a one-club man in the modern game. There are only a handful still knocking about and while sentiment and longevity will hardly make a team favourites in the Premier League odds, it’s testament to the player for remaining at the top for their whole career. Let’s take a look at the best one-club men in modern football still playing.
It’s hard to believe that Koke is still only 30. The versatile midfielder has been a mainstay in the Atlético Madrid team for over a decade now and is one of the first names on the team sheet for Diego Simeone. Possessing that rare breed of Spanish technical excellence and industrial nastiness required to play for ‘El Cholo’ every week, Koke has won almost everything at Atléti, but the Champions League continues to elude him.
Having become more of a holding midfielder in recent years after starting on the wing, there is still plenty of time for the Spaniard to lift the big-eared trophy, and despite the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich showing an interest in his signature before, his heart has always belonged to the Colchoneros.
From Madrid to east London now and what can you say that hasn’t already been said about Mark Noble. This season will be the last for the Canning Town-born midfielder, who is hanging up the boots after 18 years of service for West Ham United.
Noble could yet win a trophy to bow out on this year under David Moyes, and while he has only played sporadically in the last couple of years, he has still made 500 appearances for the club and is clearly a big influence on the dressing room. Despite not playing as much as he perhaps would have wanted, Noble has said he’s happy going out on his own terms.
“You see the boys now and a lot of them are freaks! I will be 35 in May and I have always said I want to go out when it is my decision, I don’t want to be told by an agent or a club ‘you are done, your legs have gone,” he said. “I have watched on for the last year and played a few games but the recovery at 34 is different to when you are 21. But that is just your age and what happens.”
Jochen Sauer’s Bayern Munich academy is notoriously hard to break into. The Germans only want the best of the best in their first team so the fact Thomas Müller has been a regular in the first team throughout his whole career shows what a player the 32-year-old is. A unique frontman, Müller has been labelled the ‘space interpreter — Raumdeuter’ for his ability to create room for others on the pitch and even with Bayern’s financial muscle, able to sign whoever they want essentially in the Bundesliga, Müller has always made the first 11, even with the club changing coaches so often.
There’s still a few good years left in Müller, and having never really been blessed with natural pace, we can see him plying his trade for years to come, we just wonder if all of it will come in the red of the Bavarians.