To become a professional footballer, one of the most vital skills you will need is the ability to pull off a great first touch.
Making sloppy touches throughout games and losing possession, can put a scout off and even lead to someone being subbed off.
Now it probably goes as no surprise that the majority of footballers, and this even includes goalkeepers nowadays, have a great first touch.
However, if you have watched a game or two, you may have noticed that some footballers, in particular, have perfected the first touch.
To such a high degree, opposing players won’t go lounging in, as they know that player can bring the ball down and get it out of their feet instantly.
In this post, I will be taking you through the seven footballers who have the best first touch in the game.
It often doesn’t matter what situation and conditions these players are playing in.
You can almost always rely on them to make that first touch and keep a hold of the ball.
1. Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Manchester City’s tricky winger Riyad Mahrez has arguably one of the best first touches in the game.
As not only can he trap the ball easily from long passes across the field, but he makes the required touch to perfectly set him up.
If you watch him play, which you can see in the video below, no touch of his is the same.
What I mean by this is, he will either perfectly trap the ball, control it so ihe cut inside, or do touches it so its in his stride to run on to.
So while the Algerian does many different touches, there always executed very well.
This also shows you to high confidence this player as and how manager Pep Guardiola has got the best out of him over the past 4 seasons.
2. Marco Veratti – Paris Saint Germain
Marco Veratti may not be the first player that comes to people’s minds when talking about first touches.
However, if you watch him play, you will see how he is a footballer with one of the best first touches in the game.
Veratti possesses several qualities that help him control that midfield, from doing his defensive duties with a unique tackling style to carrying the ball out effortlessly.
He is a player who is great to watch, as everything seems to be done at his pace, and with his first touches and dribbling skills, opposing players never really get a chance to jab the ball out of his possession.
If you are someone looking to play the midfield position Veratti is a great player to learn from, as he is one of the best in his position.
3. Lionel Messi – Paris Saint Germain
A reason why Messi has become the player he is is due to his very quick feet and control of the football.
The ball remains glued to the Argentinian’s feet, no matter what, whether that is after receiving a low-driven pass or a long switch of play.
Messi also has a low center of gravity, high acceleration, and top dribbling skills, making it difficult to get his ball without fouling him.
Its the ball control that enables him to effortlessly glide past defenders before, in most situations scoring or setting up chances for his team to score.
4. Marcelo – Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s number 12 Marcelo Viera may be approaching the end of his time in Spain.
However, Marcelo is one of the best in the game regarding his first touch despite being a defender.
A position where being strong on your feet isn’t the most important skill to playing that position.
But a player that grew up in Brazil with that culture of beach football, it comes as no surprise that the veteran makes controlling the ball so effortlessly.
In games, he will often be flicking the ball over opposing players with the deftest of touch.
Even with switches of play that you watch and think in real-time that look hard to bring down, he always seems to pull it off.
So its only right that Marcelo is included on this list of footballers with a great first touch.
5. Neymar Jr – Paris Saint Germain
Neymar Jr has one of the best first touches in-game, being able to bring down the ball close-knit to his body in almost any situation.
He can do it on both feet to a high degree and also with a bit of flair, even when he doesn’t even need to.
Over the years, we have seen some perfect touches from Neymar, you have skillful first touch while playing against Atletico Madrid in his Barcelona days.
You also can’t forget the famous back touch he did against Rennes in 2018 for current club PSG.
It’s these first touches which show you why Neymar Jr is considered one of the best and why defenders struggle to get the ball off him.
6. Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho is a young footballer with terrific ball skills which includes an immaculate touch.
Despite being only 21, he has consistently shown his ability to pull off great first touches in high-pressure scenarios, showing his composure on the big stage.
This includes being in front of goal one on one with the keeper and being doubled up by the opposition.
Now the youngster as a whole possesses quality across the board. This includes his touches, dribbling, trickery, and clinical finishing.
Its the reason why Manchester United brought him for £70 million after he tore Bundesliga defenses apart for four years.
7. Isco – Real Madrid
Isco was once touted as a big prospect in football, after moving to Real Madrid from Malaga in 2013.
However, despite showing his class at times over the years, the Spaniard has struggled in the capital.
While some people boil this down to be a mix of mentality issues, others put it down to not fitting in the 4-3-3 system.
Saying that though Isco, is still on the books of Real Madrid and at 29 has one of the best first touches in the game.
With his skillful nature, he is able to not just bring the ball down perfectly in his stride but also by doing skills.
Here are a few instances where Isco has done Cruyff turns and flicks for a first touch.
8. Sergio Busquets – Barcelona
When it comes to talking about footballers with a great first touch, all the attention goes to those skillful wingers.
Many of which will take up a lot of this list.
However, Busquets has shown just how good his first touch is by consistently trapping the ball and offloading it to teammates efficiently over the years.
But how good the player doesn’t just boil down to his touch, but his overall reading of the game.
For this reason, simply getting the ball off him is tough enough.
This is because before he has the ball, he already knows who is around him and where the ball is going to next.
If it weren’t for Busquets, Spain arguably wouldn’t have won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, where he played in every game.
The same goes for Barcelona, who partnered up with Iniesta, Xavi, Rakitic over the years, played a key role in their titles.
9. Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
A lot of things in football come easy to Kevin De-Bruyne who is an all-around natural on the field.
Now not only does the Belgium maestro have a top-tier first touch, but he is regarded as a world-class player because of how he controls not just the ball but the game.
He has two strong feet, which means he can control the ball regardless of what direction it comes from.
The video below sums up De-Bruyne’s control of the ball as he doesn’t even need to use his feet at times, to bring the ball in.
Now what’s even more impressive about De-Bruyne, is what he does after his first touch.
Sometimes it will be a straight hit with precision and accuracy into the box to feed a striker an opportunity to score.
In other cases, it’s simply dictating the game and keeping possession for his side.
10. Paulo Dybala – Juventus
Blessed with a wand of a left foot and a low center of gravity, Paulo Dybala is another footballer with an elite first touch.
What I love about Dybala, is how every move he makes is to keep his opposition at arm’s length.
His first touches set him up to dribble, but are also out of range of opposing players so they can’t nick it off him.
Dybala is also a quality dribbler who glides with the ball and always looks to create something.