One-club Players Who Are Still Active

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 19. veljače 2024.


While everyone (including us) is bemoaning how loyalty is on the decline in football - there are still players and clubs who are proving us wrong with each game. A significant number of one-club players who are still active can be found across Europe’s top five leagues.

We’ll be ranking the busiest one-club players here, with the list showcasing the importance of such figures for clubs. Mostly because many of them are honoured and employed with the captain’s armband.

We are including only the players who never played for a different club in senior football, even on loan. While he doesn't have enough games to make the cut now, Real Sociedad's Robin Le Normand won't ever be eligible on the basis of a single game for Stade Brestois 29. While getting 209 in 27 years for Sociedad and being on course for making the list otherwise.

It would also be a disservice to loyalists not to mention a player who is outside the top five leagues, but still holds an aweworthy record for a notable club - CSKA Moscow. Igor Akinfeev is still going strong in between the posts of the Russian club and has 755 games for the only club he ever knew.

#10 Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo) - 369 games

Domenico Berardi

The lone representative of Serie A on this list of one-club players who are still active as the Italians are market-friendly, to say the least. With a small asterisk though, as Domenico Berardi represented Sassuolo in a season of Serie B football. Yet the winger is one of the best Italian players currently and absolutely deserves a spot on this list. Especially as he is only 29 and made the cut, while also playing for a side that enabled him only four continental matches. So Domenico played in 313 Serie A games, scoring 122 goals and making 83 assists.

It's interesting to compare his stats with the #8 player ranked on this list.

#9 Christian Gunter (Freiburg) - 383 games

Christian Gunter

Most likely the least-known player on the list, yet Freiburg's left-back is a club captain and legend with 383 games. He too played a season of non-elite football for his club, yet that is another testament to his loyalty, as he didn't jump ship. The eight-time capped Germany international is 30, and will most likely rise in this list in a year or two. Gunter scored 11 times for his side, and made 51 assists too! His servitude breaks down to 32 cup games, 15 Europa League games, 32 2nd Bundesliga matches, and 305 games in the best division of Germany.

#8 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) - 387 games

Marcus Rashford

Certainly the biggest star of these players listed here, the #1 ranked active one-club player could be the only one more well-known. Yet Rashford is on the right side of 30. More than that, aged 26, he is by far the youngest player on this list of active one-club players. It helps that Rashford plays for a big English club that plays in four competitions every season. In addition to him coming through the youth ranks of the club.

Despite making the list as the lone Premier League representative, with 128 goals and 74 assists, Rashford doesn't seem to be a lock for ending his career at Old Trafford. Especially with the recent disciplinary issues.

Rashford played in 33 Champions League games, 36 Europa League matches - a strong indicator of Man United’s slump - and 55 English Cup matches. Of course, the Premier League is where the winger performed the most - 262 games in the domestic championship.

Rashford won the Europa League, FA Cup, Community Shield, and two League Cups with his side.

#7 Maximilian Arnold (Wolfsburg) - 405 games

Maximilian Arnold

Another Bundesliga captain makes the list of one-club players who are still active. Maximilian Arnold was often the subject of transfer rumours, as a midfielder who flourished for Wolfsburg, yet he kept with the wolfpack. The three-time capped German is still in the better decade for football, aged 29, and will most likely push on to the top five active one-club players in terms of games played. Simply because he has a contract until 2026.

With 44 goals and 49 assists in 405 games for Wolfsburg, he is bound to reach 100 goal involvements from midfield. As he played in 16 Champions League games for the club, 20 Europa League games, and 30 German Cup games, it's clear that he is a Bundesliga veteran with 334 games in the competition. Maxi Arnold won the German Cup and the German Supercup with Wolfsburg, so he has other achievements to show for, not sheer game numbers.

#6 Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao) - 406 games

Inaki Williams

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion on the list of one-club players who are still active. Not because Inaki Williams isn't good enough, or veteran enough, but because he was often a major transfer target for the biggest clubs. Yet, it's no surprise that a player of Athletic Bilbao finds himself amongst the most loyal players. Not even that he is not the only one amongst the top 10.

Inaki scored 95 goals and made 56 assists in total for Athletic so far. With 329 games played in La Liga, 30 in Europa League, 43 in Copa del Rey, and four in the Supercup of Spain. The latter Inaki lifted twice with his teammates.

#5 Patrick Herrmann (Borussia Monchengladbach) - 414 games

2022128172107 2022-05-08 Fussball Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Mönchengladbach - Sven - 1D X MK II - 2165 - B70I8276 (cropped).jpg
By Sven Mandel - Sven Mandel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

While they don't make a big fuss about it, it seems that Germans are the biggest loyalists in the top five leagues with four of the 10 places belonging to them. Patrick Hermann has stuck with Borussia Monchengladbach since the 2009/2010 campaign - despite never winning a trophy. The two-time capped German has played in continental competitions though, with eight CL games, and 23 in the Europa League. In addition to 33 games in the German Cup, and 347 in the Bundesliga.

All in all, the 33-year-old returned 56 goals and 65 assists as a right-wing player. With his contract expiring in 2024, it's unclear whether Herrmann will be eligible for this list of one-club players who are still active come the 2024/2025 season.

#4 Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyon) - 476 games

Anthony Lopes

The lone representative of Ligue 1 and surprisingly the only goalkeeper on this list, despite the gloves-wearers having the advantage of playing consistently. Lopes is also the only footballer on this active one-club players list who is not playing in his native country! As the 14-time capped Portuguese came up through Lyon's youth ranks was born in France, yet represented the Iberian country. Aged 33, he is still poised to improve on his standing with a contract until 2025.

Lopes kept 154 clean sheets across all competitions for Lyon. With 30 games played after listening to the Champions League anthem, 36 in Europa League, 35 in French cups, and 365 in Ligue 1. Lopes never won a trophy with Lyon though, but was in the Champions League Squad of the Season for the 2019/2020 campaign.

#3 Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao) - 553 games

Iker Muniain

Now the second Athletic Bilbao inductee in the unofficial loyalty hall of fame. The only surprise is that there aren't more of the Bilbao teammates in the top 10. Iker Munian was once THE attacking talent of La Liga, linked with moves to Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Premier League giants. Yet he picked the route of becoming a club legend instead.

The 33-year-old is now the club captain - and one of the few players who are official leaders for club and country. As such, he has been a key stabilizing factor for Athletic to always remain in the top of La Liga. As credited with 43 Europa League games he played, and five in the CL. Iker played 60 times in the Copa del Rey, and 428 times in La Liga alone. With 75 goals and 70 assists, it's a shame he only has two Spanish Super Cup wins to show for it.

#2 Koke (Atletico Madrid) - 617 games

Koke

With a significant jump-up in the number of games we arrive at the creme de la creme of one-club players who are still active. It suggests that loyalty pays off, as the two best-placed are also the players with the most significant silverware collection - with a massive difference between the two still. Yet Atletico Madrid's captain Koke has quite the biography behind him.

With two La Liga titles, two Europa League trophies, two UEFA Supercups, one Copa del Rey and one Spanish Supercup, the midfielder cleans out all the other loyalists listed here. The 32-year-old played in 91 Champions League matches, while 28 EL games were enough for two trophies. With 50 games in the Cup and seven in the Spanish Supercup, Koke played the bulk in La Liga - 439 games. With a great return from central midfield of 47 goals and 114 assists. His contract expires in 2024, but the story doesn't seem to be ending. Yet, even if it ends in the summer of 2024, Koke will still have a spot in the top 10 list of players who have spent their entire career at one club.

#1 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) - 692 games

Thomas Muller

It seems that every two or three seasons we encounter a Bayern Munich manager who doesn't appreciate Thomas Muller as much as even neutral fans do. With 692 games for the club in which he came up as a youngster, the 34-year-old Muller is the king of active one-club players.

With a terrifying stat line - which started accumulating in the 2008/2009 season - to show for. As Muller is the second most prolific assist-maker in 21st-century football with 264 assists. In addition to his 237 goals scored.

The versatile player has 148 appearances for Bayern in the Champions League alone - enough for two triumphs. In the German Cup - 65 appearances and six trophies. Eight German Supercup triumphs, two Club World Cup trophies, two UEFA Supercup trophies, and of course 12 German champion titles!




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