7. Ronaldo – Ronaldinho – Rivaldo (Brazil, 1999-03)
Coming in at the seventh spot is the legendary Brazilian trio of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Rivaldo. Although none of them played together at the club level, “the Three Rs” had an excellent chemistry between each other and dominated the world at the time when defenders were actually good. They helped Brazil win the 1999 Copa America and the 2002 World Cup, where Ronaldo finished off as a top scorer with nine goals and Rivaldo in the second place with five. However, their dominance didn’t last long due to Rivaldo’s fall from grace after his exit from Barcelona in the summer of 2002, while Ronaldo started gaining too much weight by the 2006 World Cup came around.
6. Marco Van Basten – Ruud Gullit – Frank Rijkaard (AC Milan and the Netherlands, 1988-93)
Unlike Brazil’s “the Three Rs”, the trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard played together in both club and international levels. The three of them led the Netherlands to their only international title in 1988, where they won the European Championship by beating Soviet Union. After the tournament, Gullit joined his countrymen at AC Milan, and went on to win the European Cup(the old format of Champions League) back-to-back in 1989 and 1990. The three Dutchmen also helped Milan record a 58-game unbeaten run and win two Serie A titles.
5. Lionel Messi – Samuel Eto’o – Thierry Henry (Barcelona, 2007-09)
One of the best trios in modern day football, the combination of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, and Thierry Henry under the guidance of Pep Guardiola was frightening to the opposition defenses. After getting fed up with Arsenal’s trophy-less seasons, Henry joined Messi and Eto’o at Barcelona in 2007 to win some silverware. Although their first season together under Rijkaard was a rather disappointing one, everything changed when Guardiola took charge in the summer of 2008. With the new system of possession-based football, the trio flourished and the numbers speak for themselves. They finished off the season with 100 goals between them, a record number of goals for any attacking trios at the time. They also helped Barcelona only club in the world to win six titles in a calendar year, although Eto’o had left in the summer, thus missing out of two Super Cups and the Club World Cup wins.
4. George Best – Bobby Charlton – Denis Law (Manchester United, 1963-73)
George Best, Bobby Charlton, and Dennis Law were so good to the point Manchester United decided to honor them with a statue outside of Old Trafford in 2008. Known as the “Holy Trinity”, the trio led United to its first European Cup in 1968 and two English First Division titles in 1965 and 1967. They played together for ten years and scored up to 508 games between them, and each player won the Ballon d’Or as teammates. The trio was also close outside of the pitch as well, and Charlton and Law visited Best in 2005 when he was hospitalized, before passing away. The “Holy Trinity” is featured in the design of the current United’s third kit.
3. Alfredo Di Stefano – Francisco Gento – Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid, 1958-64)
By the time Ferenc Puskas, a winner of the European Player of the Year, joined Real Madrid in 1958, the Spanish giants had already won the first three editions of the European Cup. Together with Alfredo Di Stefano and Francisco Gento, the trio led Madrid to win another two European titles. They also won four La Liga titles together, and is considered the first triple attacking threat in football.
2. Lionel Messi – Luiz Suarez – Neymar (Barcelona, 2014-17)
Considered the best trio of all time by many, the trio of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar was simply breathtaking to watch even for the rivals. Due to the decline of David Villa and inconsistencies of Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez, Barcelona decided to break the bank on attacking reinforcements. In the summer of 2013, the club reportedly paid €86.2 million to acquire Neymar from Santos. A year later, they spent €82.3m to sign Suarez from Liverpool. Their first game together, though, wasn’t pretty. After serving a four-month suspension for biting Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup, Suarez was immediately thrown into the starting line-up against Real Madrid. They lost 3-1, but the three headed monster was officially born that day. During their first season, they went on to win a treble, scoring a total of 119 goals to set up a new Spanish record. The trio played a total of 450 games in three seasons together, and scored 364 goals between them.
1. Lionel Messi – Xavi Hernandez – Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, 2004-15)
Unsurprisingly, Messi features for the third time in this list. But this time, it’s his combination with Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta which goes into history books as the best trio of all time. Unlike any other trios on this list, all three players graduated from Barcelona’s famous youth academy La Masia, and played together in the senior team for 11 years. With the dynamic midfield duo of Xavi and Iniesta, added with Messi’s goals, they were practically unstoppable on their day. This trio may not had scored as many as other trios, but together, they won a whopping 25 titles together. With all three of them being geniuses in their own right, football may never see this type of trio ever again.