Whether coupled in the heart of defence, placed deep in the sprawling midfield or leading the fearsome attacking line, a volley of footballing duos left an indelible impression on our minds. Their impact has been such that it is difficult to talk about any of them on a case-by-case basis. These players were meant to play together and in doing so they brought laurels to the clubs and moments of joy to the fans.
As the new Premier League season beckons, one can’t help but be excited at the prospect of watching Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish at Manchester City, or Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz at Arsenal, among others. Only time will tell if they will continue to enshrine their names in the list of most iconic duos.
But for now, to celebrate football’s greatest partnerships, we’re taking a look at some of the most memorable pairings:
Xavi X Iniesta – Barcelona
Xavi and Iniesta formed Barcelona’s top-flight kingpin when Pep Guardiola was in charge of the club. It is almost impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other. Both graduated from La Masia, eased their roles at Barcelona without too much turmoil and dominated world football for more than half a decade. But their influence was not limited to Barcelona. They were equally effective in their domestic time, winning the European Cup and the FIFA World Cup with them.
Mohamed Salah x Sadio Mané – Liverpool
Over the past few years, the striking duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have become a force to be reckoned with. They became the epitome of heavy metal football pioneered by Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp. Both pressed relentlessly and combined for a number of iconic goals that changed the fate of the club. It’s a shame we won’t be watching them together anymore, as Mane has now moved to Bayern Munich.
Cristiano Ronaldo X Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
From strike duo Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole in the 1990s to Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United have always been adorned with sublime attacking talent. But perhaps none captured the public imagination as much as Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo in the mid-2000s. Both were young and brash, shared great camaraderie and pulverized opponents with their nerve-racking skills.
Lionel Messi X Luis Suarez
Numerically, neither striker even comes close to the goalscoring skill of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona. During the six-year span between 2014 and 2020, the duo scored a total of 478 goals. Messi has served Suarez 52 times, while the latter has 47 assists for the former’s goals.
Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp
The union began in the summer of 1998, when Thierry Henry joined Arsenal from Juventus, and lasted until 2006, when Dennis Bergkamp said goodbye to football. In between, the duo won two Premier League trophies and three FA Cup titles. It’s tragic but fitting that Arsenal have returned to the top after Bergkamp’s retirement. Each was extremely talented in their own way, but the combination boosted their power.
Main image: ManUtd/Twitter