Carlo Ancelotti has worked with a ridiculous amount of talent during his time as a manager and a coach. The Italian’s managerial career has steadily plateaued since his Real Madrid exit, but he remains one of the world’s most sought after coaches, and currently plies his trade with Everton in the Premier League.
From Milan to Madrid to Munich, it seems almost no-one has a bad word to say about Ancelotti. He is the manager the very best love to play for. Having the best team on paper, as football history shows, doesn’t always guarantee success. Having Ancelotti as your manager pretty much does.
Ancelotti has won league titles in four different countries – Italy, England, France, and Germany, and has won the Champions League with two different clubs. Not many managers can claim to have achieved those feats.
Needless to say, during his time at these clubs, the Italian has worked with a plethora of talent, including Gigi Buffon, Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Pippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Andriy Shevchenko, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Frank Lampard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo; you name it and there are chances that the legends have worked with Ancelotti at some point in their careers.
While it’s extremely difficult to put together just XI of Ancelotti’s best players, the good folks at WhoScored have pulled together data of some of the best players who have played under the 60-year-old.
So, who makes the cut? And who misses out?
Here are Carlo Ancelotti’s best eleven players of his career.
Petr Cech (Chelsea) – 6.86 rating
Petr Cech kept more clean sheets (32) for Chelsea than any other Premier League goalkeeper during the Italian’s two-year stint at the Stamford Bridge helm. Ancelotti had faith in Cech calling him ‘one of the best goalkeepers in the world’ and was extremely impressed with the former Blue’s ability to take responsibility for the team. Admittedly, Ancelotti worked with a number of impressive goalkeepers, including Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon, Dida, Manuel Neuer, and Iker Casillas, but he coached most of those shot-stoppers outside of their peak.
Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) – 7.34 rating
Between 2009 and 2011, Chelsea conceded fewer goals (63) than any other Premier League side with Branislav Ivanovic occupying the right-back spot. Of the 109 matches that the 60-year-old took charge of at Chelsea, Ivanovic featured in 89 of those and contributed with seven goals and 13 assists.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) – 7.44 rating
Sergio Ramos was sensational as Los Blancos’ captain in Ancelotti’s two years in Spain as his team conceded fewer than a goal per game in all competitions with the Italian at the Bernabeu helm. It was the defender’s header that helped Real Madrid to Champions League glory back in 2014.
Centre-back: Alessandro Nesta (Milan) – 7.28
Nesta rose through the ranks at Lazio before earing a €30m move to Milan where he twice won the Champions League under Ancelotti. The Italian defender stood out as the best in a league that was geared towards defending and he made no fewer than 235 appearances under Ancelotti’s gaze.
Left-back: Paolo Maldini (Milan) – 7.33 rating
Maldini captained Ancelotti teams to Champions League triumphs in 2003 and 2007, while even scoring in the one European final that they failed to win. In 25 seasons, he lifted seven Scudetti and five Champions League titles (two of which came under Ancelotti). His captaincy under Ancelotti was Maldini’s third period of sustained success at Milan.
Right midfield: Kaka (Milan) – 7.72 rating
Kaka was the jewel in Milan’s crown during their dominance of the mid-2000s: making 270 appearances, scoring 95 goals and providing 66 assists alongside Ancelotti alone. Kaka was the last man to lift the coveted Ballon d’Or (back in 2007) before the Messi-Ronaldo stranglehold.
Central midfield: Thiago (Bayern Munich) – 8.18 rating
Pep Guardiola failed to make the most of Thiago in a Bayern Munich shirt, with injuries impacting the Spaniard’s impact under his compatriot, but Ancelotti maximised the midfielder’s talent. Thiago enjoyed a fine spell under Ancelotti as he scored six and assisted five in the Italian’s sole full season at the Allianz Arena helm.
Central midfield: Blaise Matuidi (PSG) – 7.72 rating
One of the most under-rated, but most prominent members of the dominant PSG side under Ancelotti, Matuidi missed just six of Ancelotti’s 77 games in charge at PSG over two seasons, highlighting his importance and the level of consistency he managed during that spell, helping PSG to the Ligue 1 title in 2012/13.
Left midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 8.40 rating
To say Ronaldo was phenomenal under Ancelotti would be a huge understatement. The Portuguese powerhouse scored a mind-blowing 112 goals in just 101 games under the Italian, even finding the net in the 2014 Champions League final and bagging two consecutive European Golden Shoes.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) – 7.82 rating
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ancelotti enjoyed just one full season together in Paris, but the Swedish striker was sensational in that sole campaign. Ibrahimovic plundered 35 goals and assisted 18 more in his 46 appearances under Ancelotti, kickstarting the era of dominance for Paris Saint-Germain in France.
Striker: Didier Drogba (Chelsea) – 7.91 rating
Didier Drogba enjoyed an excellent debut campaign during Ancelotti’s two-year Chelsea reign. The Ivorian sensation scored 29 league goals and provided 10 assists in 2009/10. After Ancelotti’s departure, Drogba – a two-time African Footballer of the Year- dragged Chelsea kicking and screaming to the Champions League title in Munich.