Some friendships in football evolve beyond the confines of normal team chemistry, leading to unbreakable bonds between teammates. Though they are far too rare in this all too moneyed and distorted game, they do exist.
Here are seven of the best examples.
Paul Pogba & Jesse Lingard
The Manchester United academy graduates have been inseparable (metaphorically) since they broke into the Red Devils squad on the same day for an away game at Newcastle. Of course, the use of inseparable was purely symbolic, because a short while later they were separated.
But, upon the Frenchman's world record return to Old Trafford in 2016, the pair picked up right where they left off, and have been dabbing and dancing ever since. How sweet.
David Alaba & Franck Ribery
From play fighting in training to fooling each other with disguised shoulder taps on trophy podiums, these two have been through it all - even a short-lived beer shower fiasco that was quickly resolved by the fact that it was non-alcoholic beer.
As an academy graduate at Bayern, there must've been some part of David Alaba that idolised Franck Ribery when he was rising up the ranks. But, some time in 2010, when the Austrian graduated to the first team, this admiration from afar evolved into something far, far greater - true friendship. They've got a secret handshake and everything.
Lionel Messi & Luis Suarez
For a while, this was world football's definitive love triangle, with Neymar occupying third spot alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. But then the Brazilian defected to Paris for a world record fee, and the South American trifecta became a dynamic duo.
But what a duo they've become, both on and off the pitch. On it, they score like nobody's business. Off it, they regularly jet off to Ibiza with their respective partners when time permits. Room for one more?
Eric Dier & Dele Alli
Compatriots, compadres and in so many ways an old married couple, Eric Dier and Dele Alli have been entwined since 2015, when the latter made his switch from MK Dons to Tottenham.
Dier had joined Spurs a year earlier after spending his formative years in Lisbon with Sporting CP, and the two clearly found comfort in each other when faced with the daunting prospect of the big smoke. They're Fortnite bros, UNO enemies, and surely now life-long friends.
Marco Reus & Mario Gotze
Marco Reus and Mario Gotze's first season together in 2012/13 was also nearly their last. Despite this late introduction, they immediately became two peas in a pod, partners in crime, etc. etc.
Unfortunately, the crude grasp of Bayern Munich tore their friendship apart in 2013, right after that most intriguing of Champions League finals between the Bavarians and Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, just after that occasion, when the paperwork for Gotze's move had been completed, Reus proclaimed: “If I would have no limits and could spend as much money for a player as I want, I would bring Mario back.”
Fortunately, just three years later Dortmund did just that. And now they're reunited.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Alexandre Lacazette
By all natural conventions, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette should be, if not mortal enemies, then at least somewhat bitter rivals. But they're not. They're best, best pals.
When they are permitted to grace the pitch at the same time, their quasi-telepathic chemistry is there for all to see. But even when they're on different sides of the white line they still take the time to celebrate their (almost inevitable) scores with one another in signature handshake style.
John Terry, Frank Lampard & Didier Drogba
This was a love story for the ages, and maybe the greatest love triangle in the history of the Premier League - certainly one of the most enduring.
Sure, Petr Cech might be feeling a bit aggrieved, and off the field he was probably just as close to each of these three, but his on-field distance precludes him, and these three never felt far from each other.
Perhaps the biggest factor in their unbreakable bonds has been the evident respect that still exists between them today, despite their different paths. One day, they'll all return to Stamford Bridge to steer Chelsea to glory once more. One day.
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