FourFourTwo's Top 100 Players in the World 2013: 40-31
As ever, it has been a far from easy task. But the results are in, and we've nailed down the final list.
Will Iker Casillas lose his place in our list like he lost his place in the Real Madrid first team? Will England's 'golden generation' continue to drift? Has the Bundesliga become our most represented league? Can Franck Ribery break the duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
They've both had sensational years but who of Messi or Ronaldo is topping the tree this year? As both battle it out for January's grand FIFA prize we've ranked the duo ourselves based on their 2013 showings. The top three of our list has exactly matched the top three in the Ballon d'Or for the last two seasons, so you should see this as something of a prelude to January's big do in Zurich.
In the new magazine - out on Wednesday - we've interviewed several of the world's best players, including the No.1. But who's the greatest?
There's only one way to find out…
40. MARIO GOTZE
Solo Mesut Ozil ha servito più assist di Gotze contando i maggiori campionati europei: 15 a 11 (Opta).
The playmaker became Dortmund’s primary string-puller after progressing through Die Schwarzgelben’s youth ranks, steering them to back-to-back Bundesliga crowns. The announcement of his impending €37 million move to title rivals Bayern on the eye of a Champions League semi-final caused pandemonium around Europe.
After suffering an early-season ankle injury, Götze, like the club in general, continues to adjust to new surroundings and a new style of play under Pep Guardiola.
EXCLUSIVE Mario Götze interview in the new FourFourTwo
39. ILKAY GUNDOGAN
Gundogan è il giocatore del Dortmund con la miglior precisione nei passaggi dell'ultima Bundes (95,98%, 1159 giusti su 1348 effettuati) (Opta).
A revelation in the Bundesliga last season, now ready to challenge for his place with Germany at the World Cup - and he’s still only just 23.
The creative anchorman was superb for Dortmund in Europe, winning plaudits for his semi-final performances against Real Madrid and scoring from the spot against Bayern in the final. Expect a rise this time next year - the big sharks are circling.
38. TONI KROOS
Toni Kroos è il giocatore che ha realizzato più reti da fuori dell'area di rigore nelle qualificazioni ai Mondiali: 3 (Opta).
It’s a genuine shame that injury deprived Kroos, one of Bayern’s best players all season, an appearance in the Champions League’s later stages (though Arjen Robben did all right in his absence).
It’s something the 23-year-old deserves to put right. He’s playing deeper under Pep Guardiola but has the ability to carve out chances like a true No.10 as well as keep possession – something few midfielders can do.
37. DAVID SILVA
David Silva è il giocatore che ha creato più occasioni da gol nel periodo che va dal novembre 2012 all'ottobre 2013 in Premier: 106 (Opta).
Although Silva continues to struggle to earn a regular starting place (hardly a major failing), he’s still a key figure for Manchester City and arguably the Premier League’s finest playmaker.
Injuries have hampered his start to 2013/14, but he still returned in time to help City beat CSKA Moscow and secure a spot in the Champions League knock-out phase for the first time.
36. ANDREA PIRLO
Il centrocampista azzurro ha realizzato 2233 passaggi nel periodo che corre dal novembre 2012 all'ottobre 2013: nessun giocatore italiano ne ha realizzati tanti (Opta).
One of modern football’s icons, a great player and with a beard so refined it could be the subject of an exhibition, Pirlo retains his status as one of the world’s best.
At 34 his powers are on the wane slightly and his influence on Juve isn’t quite what it was, reflected in a 27-place drop, but five goals and 11 assists was still a credible return for the Italian midfield maestro last season.
35. SERGIO RAMOS
Sergio Ramos ha vinto 31 contrasti nelle qualificazioni ai mondiali: nessuno meglio di lui (Opta).
The flowing locks may be a thing of the past, but the fighting spirit, determination and no little skill remain fundamentals of the 27-year-old’s all-action game.
Trophyless in 2013, Ramos became the youngest player in history to reach 100 international caps in March and is a guaranteed World Cup starter.
EXCLUSIVE Sergio Ramos interview in this month's FourFourTwo
34. ARJEN ROBBEN
Nelle qualificazioni ai mondiali, Robben è il giocatore che ha creato di più per la nazionale olandese: 18 occasioni create (Opta).
When will poor Arjen be truly recognised in Bayern’s all-conquering crop? Give him his credit - after a dark 2011/12 (missing a penalty in the Champions League final against Chelsea), the Dutchman played a starring role as Bayern finally lifted the trophy last time out.
Toni Kroos’ injury in April allowed him to bag in each semi-final leg against Barcelona, and then again in a man-of-the-match final to banish the demons one year on.
33. ARTURO VIDAL
Nelle qualificazioni ai mondiali, Vidal è stato il giocatore più aggressivo del Cile: 49 contrasti tentati (Opta).
The Chile international had an outstanding season for Juventus, emerging as a warrior at the heart of midfield. Energetic yet composed, cultured but aggressive, Vidal scored decisive goals at crucial times and was voted Juve’s 2012/13 player of the season by fans.
He’s also a central figure in one of the greatest Chile teams in recent memory.
32. GONZALO HIGUAIN
Solo Messi (10) e Suarez (11) hanno segnato più di Higuain (9) nel girone sudamericano di qualificazione ai mondiali (Opta).
Had the summer panned out as Arsenal had initially intended, it would have been the Argentine striker who swapped Madrid for north London, rather than Mesut Ozil.
It’s debatable the Gunners are rueing the way things turned out, but Higuain will be more than happy with his move to Naples, where he has quickly become the attacking figurehead of the Serie A title chasers.
31. JAVI MARTINEZ
Javi Martinez è il giocatore del Bayern che ha intercettato più palloni nell'ultima Champios League: 30 (Opta).
The best way to summarise Javi Martinez’s year is to say that he’s made his €40million fee – the biggest transfer in Bundesliga history – look like a bargain. Bayern president Uli Hoeness is on record saying as much.
Martinez’s employers are certainly satisfied with how comfortably the Spaniard slotted into the team, and whether in midfield or at centre back, he played a big part in Bayern’s record-breaking season.