Coming soon: the world's 100 best players
If a week is a long time in football or politics, a year can seem an eternity.
Last autumn, FourFourTwo magazineÃ¢ÂÂs inaugural list of the 100 Best Players in the World was topped by Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite.
A load of Kaka?
Not 12 months ago Ã¢ÂÂ he was, after all, the key man for the European champions Ã¢ÂÂ but how many of you think that AC MilanÃ¢ÂÂs brilliant Brazilian is still the finest footballer on the planet?
Later this month, while others revel in the Champions League spotlight, Kaka will be gracing Fratton Park in the UEFA Cup. Ouch.
Not that thereÃ¢ÂÂs anything wrong with stomping around Pompey Ã¢ÂÂ Cristiano Ronaldo has been known to do it, and heÃ¢ÂÂs a surefire bet to be up at the business end of the list. Last yearÃ¢ÂÂs No.2 will have designs on top spot, but there are others challenging, at home and abroad.
Consider Fernando Torres, FFTÃ¢ÂÂs No.34 last year (behind Maldini, Riquelme and Ayala, among others).
Since we published that list, El NiÃÂ±o has averaged two goals every three games, improving Liverpool to such an extent that they might conceivably challenge for the Premier League as much as the Champions League. And although RonaldoÃ¢ÂÂs United scooped both those trophies last season, Torres fired Spain to Euro 2008 glory while the Portuguese disappointedÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Speaking of Spanish success stories, surely Sergio Ramos Ã¢ÂÂ allegedly a defender, even if he seems to combine the athleticism of Roberto Carlos with the positional flexibility of Franz Beckenbauer Ã¢ÂÂ will rise from last yearÃ¢ÂÂs No.56, while his cohort for club and country, Ã¢ÂÂSaintÃ¢ÂÂ Iker Casillas (30th last year), will have more chance than Scott Carson of leapfrogging Gigi Buffon (ninth) as the worldÃ¢ÂÂs best goalkeeper.
Across Madrid, Sergio AgÃÂ¼ero should improve on last yearÃ¢ÂÂs 96th place, while up in Barcelona, his fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi will surely be on the move from fifth position.
One of the players above little Leo last year was his clubmate Thierry Henry, in fourth. ItÃ¢ÂÂs been tough for Titi since then, and he may wonder how far he can fall. Also nervously eyeing the slippery slope might be Ronaldinho (third last year) and his fellow Brazilian Ronaldo (50th). With EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs stars reborn under Fabio Capello after a summer kicking their expensive heels, itÃ¢ÂÂll be interesting to see how they fare against the continentÃ¢ÂÂs finest.
Will Wayne Rooney (eighth last year) still be higher than Zlatan Ibrahimovic (21st)? Does Frank Lampard (25th) still outshine Xavi (32nd)? And while weÃ¢ÂÂre at it, whoÃ¢ÂÂs better: Rio Ferdinand (24th) or John Terry (22nd)?
All will be revealed on Wednesday November 5 (AKA tomorrow)... prepare the fireworks!
- The new issue of FourFourTwo is out tomorrow
LAST YEARÃ¢ÂÂS LIST: the 100 Best Players in the World 2007100 Shunsuke Nakamura099 Alexandro Pato098 Maicon097 Jamie Carragher096 Sergio Aguero095 Nery Castilo094 Javier Mascherano093 Adrian Mutu092 Kim Kallstrom091 Filippo Inzaghi090 Javier Zanetti089 Eduardo da Silva088 Faio Quagliarella087 Diego Milito086 Gabriel Milito085 Gary Neville084 Juninho083 Rafael van der Vaart082 Robin van Persie081 Samir Nasri080 Ricardo Quaresma079 Carles Puyol078 Nemanja Vidic077 Maxi Rodriguez076 Phillip Lahm075 Gianluca Zambrotta074 Torsen Frings073 Pavel Nedved072 Fredi Kanoute071 Kolo Toure070 Vincente069 Diego Forlan068 Michael Owen067 William Gallas066 Ze Roberto065 Frank Ribery064 Andriy Shevchenko063 Patrick Vieira062 Diego061 Simao Sabrosa060 Arjen Robben059 Robinho058 Joe Cole057 Miroslav Klose056 Sergio Ramos055 Luca Toni054 Alex053 Hernan Crespo052 Owen Hargreaves051 Wesley Sneijder050 Ronaldo049 David Silva048 Andres Iniesta047 Dejan Stankovic046 Clarence Seedorf045 Florent Malouda044 Carlos Teves043 David Beckham042 Daniele de Rossi041 Michael Ballack040 Lucio039 David Suazo038 Dimitar Berbatov037 David Albelda036 Alessandra Nesta035 Ricardo Carvalho034 Fernando Torres033 Cesc Fabregas032 Xavi 031 Juan Roman Riquelme030 Iker Casillas029 Ryan Giggs028 Paolo Maldini027 Ashley Cole026 Gennaro Gattuso025 Frank Lampard024 Rio Ferdinand023 Deco022 John Terry021 Zlatan Ibrahimovic020 Michael Essien019 David Villa018 Francesco Totti017 Paul Scholes016 Roberto Ayala015 Ruud van Nistelrooy014 Andrea Pirlo013 Didier Drogba012 Daniel Alves011 Peter Cech010 Fabio Cannavaro009 Gianluigi Buffon008 Wayne Rooney007 Samuel Eto'o006 Steven Gerrard005 Lionel Messi004 Thierry Henry003 Ronaldinho002 Cristiano Ronaldo001 Kaka