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25 Greatest Serie A Players of All Time

Serie A is one of the most popular soccer leagues in the world. It draws fans from all around the globe for a variety of reasons. 

But first and foremost, it is the sheer number of top-class talent it attracts that makes it one of the best soccer leagues to support and watch.

Here are the 25 greatest Serie A players of all time.

25. Ronaldo (R9)

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Inter Milan, AC Milan
  • Position: Striker

Ronaldo was among the finest attackers in history. Due to a lethal combination of blistering speed, physical strength, and technical excellence.

His remarkable debut season with Barcelona, when combined issues surrounding contract negotiations soon attracted the attention of Serie A giants. 

Inter won the race for his signature, he spent eight seasons in the club, scoring 49 goals in 68 appearances. 

24. Michel Platini 

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Juventus (1982-1987)
  • Position: Midfielder

While Platini’s time in Serie A was brief compared with the rest of his illustrious playing career, the midfielder, known for his prolific scoring, was an integral member of Juventus’ European Cup-winning teams in 1985 and 1986. 

Platini scored the lone goal in a match in the shadow of Heysel in 1985. While at Italy’s most famous club, he also won two league titles and a Coppa Italia. During his reign at Juventus, Platini was one of only two men to win the Capocannoniere title for three consecutive years.

23. Marco Tardelli

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Pisa, Juventus, Inter
  • Position: Midfielder

Tardelli played an essential role for the Italian and Juventus teams in the 80s, winning all major international titles available to him during his 10-year association with both. 

He also won three Coppa Italia titles. That makes him one of the most decorated players the Serie A has ever produced. The Bianconeri understood Tardelli, and despite the fact he wasn’t primarily an attacking player, he still scored an impressive 51 goals in 376 appearances in all competitions. 

Scoring when Juventus beat Athletic Bilbao in the UEFA Cup final in 1977 instantly made him a Juventus legend as they won their first continental title.

22. Cristiano Ronaldo

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Juventus (2018-2021)
  • Position: Striker

A prolific goal scorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo has just returned to Old Trafford in his latest transfer. In addition to setting career records for Real Madrid and Portugal, he was also a top-scorer in the Champions League and all five top European leagues at some point in his career. 

The striker contributed 81 goals during two title wins during the three short years he spent at Juventus. He makes our list as he has arguably one of the greatest players of all time.

21. Christian Vieri 

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Torino, Atalanta, Juventus, Lazio, Inter, AC Milan, Fiorentina
  • Position: Striker

As you can see from the lengthy list above, he moved around quite a bit for someone of his caliber. His long Serie A career was only broken up by three years in Serie B with Torino, Atalanta, and a stint at Atletico Madrid. 

After setting the Serie A record for the highest transfer fee, an honor he shared with Ronaldo and Hernan Crespo, Vieri went on to score the most goals in the league. 

Despite being injured in the Champions League quarterfinal at Valencia, the 24 goals he scored in just 23 games during their title run in 2002-03 is probably the highlight of a long Serie A career.

20. Paolo Rossi

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Juventus, Coma, Vicenza, Perugia, AC Milan, Hellas Verona
  • Position: Striker

Rossi’s career started much like Italy’s 1982 World Cup. It started much slower than he would have liked. However, it eventually came to a trophy-laden conclusion. 

In 1982, he returned to Turin after he had spent two seasons at Vicenza and Perugia.  In spite of his small stature, Rossi was an intelligent striker and ruthless finisher who found space where there appeared to be none. 

19. Marco van Basten

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: AC Milan (1987-1995)
  • Position: Striker

Van Basten is considered one of the best strikers of all time, perhaps the most complete forward ever. Two European Cups, 14 domestic titles, and three Ballon d’Or served as rewards for his 301 top-flight goals. The number of titles he collected is impressive, especially considering his career was cut short due to injury.

He was only 28 when he played his final game. His Serie A career started with a title in his debut season with the Rossoneri. He showed astonishing consistency for the next 8 seasons, consistently scoring all manner of goals. 

18. Roberto Donadoni

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Atalanta, AC Milan
  • Position: Midfielder

Known for his speed and technique, Donadoni was a key player in Milan’s 80s and 90s championship-winning sides. He won an astonishing five league titles, three European titles, three UEFA Supercups, and two Intercontinental Cups. 

He also played a huge role as one of MLS pioneers in the United States. Returning to his old stomping ground and winning his sixth title before retiring.

17. Alessandro Nesta

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Lazio, AC Milan
  • Position: Defender

Nesta is recognized as one of the best center backs in the history of the game. Among his numerous honors include 4 Serie A Defender of the Year awards, 4 UEFA Team of the Year selections, and a place among FIFA’s top 100 players ever in 2004.

His talent was recognized by AC Milan during his time at Lazio. As well as winning three Scudetti, three Coppa Italia trophies, four Supercoppas, and a UEFA Cup. Nesta quickly became an indispensable player due to his formidable physicality and tactical nous.   

16. Giuseppe Bergomi

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Inter Milan (1979-1999)
  • Position: Defender

Bergomi played 519 games in Serie A during his 20 years at San Siro, making him one of the greatest defenders in Italian history. 

Inter’s most capped player in history at that point, only recently surrendered that as Javier Zanetti. His excellent defensive play earned him a place on the FIFA 125 list of greatest living soccer players.

15. Gunnar Nordahl

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: AC Milan (1949-1956)
  • Position: Striker

As a result of transferring from Sweden to Milan, Nordahl had to give up his international career due to the rules that disallowed professionals from playing with the Swedish National Team at the time. His 210 goals in just 257 league games were just one of the reasons AC fans revered him. 

Nordahl left Milan in 1957 after winning two Serie A titles. He scored 15 more goals during a short stint at Roma before retiring in 1958. Nordahl is still widely regarded as one of the best forwards in the history of Serie A.

14. Zinedine Zidane

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Juventus (1996-2001)
  • Position: Midfielder

During Zidane’s five seasons in Serie A, many considered him the best player in the world. Much like Platini, he was another outstanding Frenchman who left an indelible impression on the league and its fans. 

Zidane played five seasons with Juventus, reaching the European Cup final twice (both ended in a loss), winning a pair of doubles, the Intercontinental Cup, and two Serie A Foreign Player of the Year awards.

In combination with the finishing ability of Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, Zidane’s midfield wizardry proved deadly to the opposition.

13. Dino Zoff

Matches (Serie A)Goals ConcededClean Sheets
  • Played For: Udinese, Mantova, Napoli, Juventus
  • Position: Goalkeeper

Legendary goalkeepers like Zoff are hard to find. Voted the 3rd greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century, just behind Gordon Banks and Lev Yashin. He holds a unique place in the history of Serie A, as one of the greatest stoppers the league has ever seen. Aside from Udinese and Mantova, he has also played for Napoli and Juventus. 

Juventus won six titles during the legendary Italian keeper’s time as the team’s stopper. In 1982, the Italian national team won the World Cup. Zoff was voted Italy’s Golden Player by the Italian Football Federation after not conceding a goal for almost two years for the national team. 

12. Roberto Baggio

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Vicenza, Fiorentina, Juventus, AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan, Brescia
  • Position: Striker

Roberto Baggio played in Serie A for 19 years, between 1985 and 2004, Throughout most of his career, Baggio was heavily criticized for his inconsistent on-pitch displays. 

But his record as a player speaks for itself. He won trophies with nearly all the clubs he played for, and in 1993 he was named the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year winner.

In addition to Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri, Roberto Baggio is the only Italian to have scored in three World Cups and has nine goals in World Cup tournaments for Italy.  

Making the Azzurri team of the century in 2000 is some achievement considering the other names on this list he pushed out. The fans and media also included him in the 1994 FIFA World Cup all-star team. He deserves to be included in a list of the best players in the history of Serie A. 

11. Andrea Pirlo

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Brescia, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus
  • Position: Midfielder

Italy has never produced a better midfielder than Andrea Pirlo; arguably no midfielder in Serie A history has been more important to his team. 

The moment he came into his own in 2002, he turned Milan into the most successful club in Europe. The difference he made to a team that finished seventh the year before was astounding. 

His arrival provided the team with the technical ability to compete against any team in the world. In 2006, Italy won the World Cup with him, and in 2012 the Italian team came in second place at Euro 2012. 

A disastrous group stage for Italy followed in the 2010 world cup, and many blamed Pirlo for not being selected for the team’s abysmal performance. 

10. Giuseppe Meazza

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus, Varese, Atalanta
  • Position: Striker

Meazza famously scored 347 goals in 564 matches for the Serie A champions. He won the Serie A top goalscorer award winner three times during the course of his career. 

He ranks fourth on the Serie A’s all-time top scorers list, with 216 behind José Altafini. He also ranks second on the Italian national team’s top scorers with 33 goals. 

Winning three Serie A titles with Inter and one Coppa Italia with Inter and Milan were all records in his day. It is impossible to ignore the impact he had on the all-conquering Italian team of the 1930s.

9. Silvio Piola

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Lazio, Torino, Juventus, Novara
  • Position: Striker

In Serie A history, Piola is its most prolific goal scorer. He retired in 1954 after scoring 274 goals. In the league’s history, he is the only player who has reached the top of the Serie A goal-scoring charts for three different teams (Vercelli, Lazio, and Novara). 

If World War II had not disrupted Piola’s career, especially on the international stage, it’s impossible to say what his career would have been like. Both because of his huge scoring totals and longevity (25 years of high-level play) cemented a place among Serie A’s best-ever players.

8. Franco Baresi

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: AC Milan (1977-1997)
  • Position: Defender

A one-club man is always special, and Baresi served AC Milan loyally for two decades before retiring in 1997. Another one of the greatest defenders of all time that graced the stadiums of the league. 

Baresi was the heartbeat of the AC Milan defense. In addition to winning six Serie A titles, Baresi won three European Cups, three European Super Cups, and four Coppas Italia. During the 1982 World Cup, his defensive performances helped Italy win. In Serie A, 

Baresi ranks among the best captains and defenders the league produced.  AC Milan retired his number six shirt after his retirement, such was his impact on the team.

7. Valentino Mazzola

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Venezia, Torino
  • Position: Winger

Capt. Mazzola symbolized what was best about the Great Torino side of the 1940s. In the history of Italian soccer, he is considered one of its greatest number 10s. When the Superga air disaster occurred, he was just 30 years old. 

Due to his outstanding performances during his three-year career at Venezia, a larger club was interested in signing the quick, skillful attacking midfielder. 

In 1942, the president of Torino Ferruccio Novo invested 1.2 million Lire to bring Mazzola to the Granata. Immediately, he became a legend. It is difficult to dispute the greatness of the claret jersey player. 

6. Alessandro Del Piero

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Juventus (1993-2006 & 2007-2012)
  • Position: Striker

The very best player in the history of Italy’s most storied club, ”lL Fenomeno Vero” (The real phenomenon) is one of the best players Italy has ever produced. During his 19 seasons with the Bianconeri, Del Piero captained the team 11 times, making both of these records. 

As the team’s leading scorer, he scored 290 goals in 705 games and over 48,000 minutes of soccer played. During this time, he collected five trophies. 

The Calciopoli match-fixing scandals prompted his renunciation of two official titles. As a result, he won four titles in the Italian Supercup, one in the Champions League, one in the UEFA Supercup, and one in the Intertoto Cup with the club. 

5. Fabio Cannavaro

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Napoli, Parma, Inter, Juventus
  • Position: Defender

Fabio Cannavaro won the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice, ranking him among the greatest defenders of all time. 

Despite not having any official Scudettos on his resume (the only two he ever won were stripped from Juventus after the Calciopoli scandal), Cannavaro remains one of the best defenders to ever play in Serie A. 

When the Italians lifted the World Cup trophy for the fourth time in 2006, Cannavaro led a defensive unit that conceded only two goals (one own goal and one penalty). In one of the closest votes in tournament history, he won the Silver Ball in that tournament.

4. Gianluigi Buffon

Matches (Serie A)Goals ConcededClean Sheets
  • Played For: Parma, Juventus
  • Position: Goalkeeper

A master of ball control and one of the most celebrated shot-stoppers in the sport, Gigi Buffon has emerged as Italy’s best goalkeeper and perhaps the best the world has ever seen.

Juventus paid the staggering sum of 100 billion lire ($52 million today) for a young and somewhat unproven goalkeeper in the summer 2001 transfer window. Far and away the highest fee ever paid at the time for a goalkeeper. The following year, he won a Serie A scudetto and led the best defense in the league.

Calicopoli has since erased two more titles won by Buffon during the mid-2000s. He and Del Piero were among several Juve stars who stayed with the club after being relegated for the scandal. He played so well in ’06; he was selected to the FIFA top XI despite spending the season in a lower division. 

Buffon is one of the best defenders in Europe. He showed this ability in his last season when Juventus switched tactics to a three-man defense style. Despite this new tactic, Buffon still only conceded 20 goals in 38 league matches: the best defensive record in Europe.

Among his many accomplishments are a third official championship, a Coppa Italia, four Supercoppas, a UEFA Cup, a Champions League final, and a record nine Serie A Keeper of the Year awards. He has also won numerous international awards. At 43 he is still going strong for his boyhood club who he rejoined following their relegation to Serie B.

3. Diego Maradona

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: Napoli (1984-1991)
  • Position: Striker

I would be remiss if I failed to include one of the game’s most talented players in this list. Only 10 years of Diego Maradona’s career were spent in Europe, and most of that time was spent with Napoli. Maradona set two world records for transfer fees in his career.

A world record fee for his services came as no surprise, where he ended up shocking the soccer world. When Napoli paid £6.9 million for the world’s best soccer player, they signed a player who stood just 5.5ft but could maneuver better than any other player on the planet. 

Because of his vision, reflex, reaction, dribbling skill, and ball control. He could dribble past more than one opponent effortlessly. Due to his talent, he was given the name “The Golden Boy”, which stuck to him throughout his career.

From 1984 to 1991, Maradona played for Napoli. Over his seven years at San Paolo, he scored 81 goals in 188 games and was such a vital part of the team that they retired his No. 10 shirt at the end of his career due to his influence.

2. Francesco Totti

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: AC Roma (1992-2017)
  • Position: Midfielder

It is not clear what it is about Serie A, but it seems to inspire a loyalty between the players and their clubs that is not evident in rival leagues. Roma’s most cherished symbol Totti is revered by Roma fans throughout the world.

 In his illustrious career at Roma, he won two titles in each of the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana competitions.

Besides being a prolific goalscorer, Totti was also well known for his ball control, vision, and creative ability. Also, he had the ability to provide his teammates with through-balls and assists. 

His primary role was as a second striker or an attacking midfielder, but he could also play as an attacker or winger. The club’s most capped player and top scorer, 

Totti was awarded 11 Oscar del Calcio awards by the Italian Footballers’ Association, five Serie A Italian player of the year, two Serie A player of the year honors, and two Serie A top goalscorer, and one Serie A young player award.

Over the course of his career, he played over 600 matches for AS Roma and scored almost 250 goals. The Serie A legend is considered to be one of the greatest players in the league’s history. AS Roma offered him the position of director of the club on July 17, 2017, upon his retirement from the sport.

1. Paolo Maldini

Matches (Serie A)GoalsAssists
  • Played For: AC Milan (1984-2009)
  • Position: Defender

That a defender tops the list of the top 25 players in Serie A, then that should tell you everything you need to know about the ultimate one-club player

Over the course of his career, he played for Milan for nearly two and a half decades. He won 23 trophies during this time, including the UEFA Champions League, Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, European Supercup, and Intercontinental Cup.

Maldini started his professional career at Milan as a right-back, despite primarily being left-back. His versatility on the pitch enabled him to play at any position in the backline, largely thanks to his ability to use both feet. 

Maldini was renowned for his stamina, sliding skills, athleticism, and fast and energetic breaks forward. Throughout his career, he also contributed to multiple goals with his crossing as well as his ability to see and create attacking threats.