We wrote this list using a number of criteria. So that players with a long record of amazing performances aren’t down at the first sign of decline, we have taken short-term form into consideration, although in many situations, a very successful or bad 2022–23 season is not the final deal-breaker.
We know you’ll strongly disagree with our selection methodology, which took into account things like trophies, league strength, raw data, and intangible magic.
There are many other big names, including Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United, Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah, hot-shots Pedri and Gavi, and defensive giants David Alaba and Virgil van Dijk, all of whom failed to make the cut.
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10. Jude Bellingham.
Some could argue that it’s too early in the season to put Bellingham on our list of giants, but his performances for Dortmund and the national team have already convinced the world of his massive skill.
Bellingham’s all-out, explosive presence transformed him from England’s 2022 World Cup wild card to an instant starter, and his performances for Dortmund kept them in championship contention despite Bayern Munich’s juggernaut outscoring them.
In the middle, he has everything you could want. Bellingham, who is large and powerful on the ball and has excellent passing ability, will rise in the 2023–24 season to wear Zinedine Zidane’s No. 5 jersey at the Bernabéu.
9. Luka Modric
Unfading, eternal, and regal. There is no way Modric will ever retire or show signs of ageing. Modric has been a professional footballer for 20 years, having made his debut with Zrinjski Mostar in the Bosnian Premier League. He has played in over 800 games, and there are still very few players you would trust more to control the midfield.
Modric is the epitome of smoothness. He is always calm and collected, never seeming stressed or exhausted. It took a delicate hand, a little dip of the shoulder to buy time, and an incredibly skilled ball to break the defensive formation. The people he’s up against have seen it before, and so have we, but we can’t do anything about it.
Madrid’s handling of the 37-year-old’s minutes has been magnificent, considering he should be in decline, losing his legs, and becoming more unpredictable. He won’t miss a beat in preparation for the massive Champions League games. And he won’t stop being in charge until it’s time for him to take the stage.
8. Vinicius Junior
We swear this isn’t simply a Real Madrid XI, but it should serve as a warning to the rest of football that, although the capital serpent has lost some of its old skin in recent transfer doors, a club captained by Vini Jr. is crawling into the open as an equally deadly threat.
The 23-year-old has played over 200 times for the club in all competitions since 2018, and he is one of the few who may legitimately claim to be at the top of this list in a few years.
Vinicius’s speed is lightning quick, and his explosive acceleration allows him to run past frightened opponents at will, even from a standstill. Most notably, he channels that velocity into footwork and ball control that would put him on equal footing with any player in the world.
7. Robert Lewandowski.
Aim, aim, aim. In a decade where false nines, inside forwards, and inverted thingamajigs predominated, Lewandowski has consistently been the voice of reason for traditional up-top attackers.
Lewandowski is a no-nonsense person in many respects. He anticipates the ball’s path, understands where and when to be in position, and is familiar with the size of the goal post and how to exploit it to his advantage. Lewandowski is the best player in the world and the one you want to have the ball in a one-on-one scenario with if it ever happens.
Lewandowski is a dangerous threat from set pieces and in generating scoring opportunities, but he is at his most vicious when he is lurking towards the top of the box.
6. Karim Benzema
The 2022–23 season may have been described as Karim Benzema’s “ultimate Indian summer,” but in truth, he accomplished little more than start in the starting lineup, score goals, and collect trophies.
Benzema has been the driving force behind all of Real Madrid’s success over the last 14 years. Real Madrid have tried several other attackers in the No. 9 position over the last decade to replace him, but none have been able to replicate his success.
Benzema does a lot of grunt labour in only 90 minutes. He makes key tackles and is the ideal anchor around which wide or inside forwards may construct attacks. When Benzema has his back to the goal, he is just as threatening to the defence as when he is facing it. The ‘two’ is guaranteed if you play a ‘one’ and then make a dashing run. Before leaving for Saudi Arabia, he gained the recognition as a complete striker that he deserved.
5. Erling Haaland
Haaland has made the extraordinary the regular. The Norse giant’s sole real shortcoming in 2022/23 was, perhaps, that it started with an unachievable standard.
Haaland scored 22 goals between the beginning of the 2022 season and the completion of the league’s 15-game regular season. In seven different Premier League seasons, the amount would have been enough to win the Golden Boot.
After the holidays, he seemed to lose some of his edge, but he was still playing really well.
Few players in the Premier League can equal his combination of unmatched toughness, incredible finishing ability (including improvised, instinctual finishing by whatever means necessary), and lightning-quick acceleration.
How about this for the greatest part? Haaland probably hasn’t even reached his full potential yet. The following several years ought to be spectacular, and if he can maintain his consistency across many years, he will unquestionably top this list.
4. Harry Kane
A player’s reputation may be inflated due to the relative mystery of international leagues, since we are only shown their numerous highlights and not their 4/10s or days they would rather forget, miss, or fail. Even in the Premier League, with all its international media attention, supporters of competing teams may not be able to recognise true greatness when they see it. In 2023, we reached the pinnacle of Kane’s success, or so it seemed. Then he abruptly departed. With an overseas league.
Averaging approximately 30 goals every season, along with a slew of assists and many other contributions, Kane stands head and shoulders above almost every other striker on the planet.
With the utmost respect, he played on a team that was simply not at his level and rarely has been near his standard, but his unique selling point is his uncanny playmaking ability—to pick a pass from deep, to swing a cross in, to play the No. 10 and No. 9 roles simultaneously and effectively. He has proven to be lethal for both club and country and has made a smooth transition to life in Munich.
3. Kevin DeBruyne
It seemed like Kevin De Bruyne had a middling season in 2022–23, but he ended up setting up 22 goals and scoring nine of his own in 42 games between the Premier League and the Champions League. Like Haaland, the Belgian has made incredible exploits appear, well, ordinary, despite his recent inability to dominate our screens due to injury.
KDB has scary efficacy when combining his vision and proclivity for a defence-splitting pass. He may be the best crosser of the ball in Premier League history.
De Bruyne includes all the standard extras, which is a major plus. He’s a dangerous threat from set pieces since he’s very robust and surprisingly fast off the mark. KDB would still be a strong player even without them, but with them, he becomes a formidable juggernaut.
2. Kylian Mbappe
Mbappé is a global phenomenon who emerged from the fires of the World Cup. Given the importance of the Champions League and the Premier League, Mbappé’s international exploits demonstrate his skill and attitude beyond any reasonable question, but this is an old-school approach to attaining greatness.
He has made fun of Ligue 1 like Neymar and others before him, but his play for club and country on the international stage has placed him in the lead. His hat trick in the World Cup final was an epic display worthy of a superstar player.
Mbappé is often portrayed as a dramatic soap character in the ongoing psychodrama between PSG and Real Madrid, with a large portion of his mind fixed on off-field politics. However, the character he displayed throughout the World Cup, his mentality, and his steely determination to drag his team kicking and screaming to the trophy have elevated him to the next level.
When it comes to speed and shooting range, he is unmatched among football players. He has the ability to hit the ball with delicacy low into the corners or with tremendous force high and soaring into the roof of the goal, whether he is running at it or not. Mbappé in your own half is trouble.
1. Lionel Messi
We’ve not been this torn about our top pick in almost a decade, but in the spirit of VAR, we just can’t say that Messi shouldn’t be there.
Messi has improved; that much is certain. Although he has lost some of his lightning quickness, his intellect and ability to manipulate the football ensure that he still has a significant impact on the outcome of games. He’s not a terrier who’ll run about and get his paws muddy for you, but that’s missing the point.
Messi’s subtle and overt dominance in games for club and country continues unabated. His play was a key part of Argentina’s run to victories in the Copa America and World Cup, and he single-handedly lifted the MLS’s worst club, Inter Miami, to the playoffs in only one month.
There is a good chance that Messi’s reign as a top player may end soon, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on him now, not when he still has so much potential, success, and energy left in the tank. It is the magician who holds sway.
Given football’s popularity, it’s not surprising that the sport has a wealth of talented athletes. Football fans all across the globe are always curious about who the finest players in the world are. We’ve compiled a list of the world’s top 10 footballers based on statistics from the current or previous season, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t left out any deserving candidates like Mohammad Salah, Julian Alvarez,
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