FourFourTwo's Top 100 Players in the World 2013: 80-71
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…
80. HUGO LLORIS
Nel periodo che va dal 1 novembre 2012 al 31 ottobre 2013, solo Joe Hart ha tenuto la porta inviolata in Premier League, 19 volte. Lloris arriva a 14 (Opta).
It’s official. You’re not allowed to discuss Hugo Lloris without mentioning the words 'sweeper-keeper' in the same sentence. About as close to a rush keeper as you’re going to get in the professional game, the French captain makes this year’s list having firmly established himself as Spurs No.1, dealing with shots, crosses and balls in behind the defence with equal ease.
Recent events suggest he could do with improving his kicking, though...
79. DIEGO COSTA
SAPEVATE CHE...Nei primi tre mesi della Liga 2013/2014, Diego Costa ha realizzato 12 gol in 11 presenze con la maglia biancorossa dell'Atletico Madrid (Opta).
The spearhead of the Rojiblancos’ resurgence under Diego Simeone; the Brazil-born striker could have been plying his trade at Liverpool in 2013/14 but is banging in the goals for Atletico instead.
The 25-year-old bagged 13 goals in 13 La Liga appearances to start the campaign as the Vicente Calderon club kept up with defending champions Barcelona at the top of the standings and overshadowed city rivals Real.
78. SAMIR HANDANOVIC
SAPEVATE CHE...Nella passata stagione in Serie A, solo Mattia Perin (116) e Andrea Consigli (115) hanno effettuato più parate di Samir Handanovic (114) (Opta).
Only rock-bottom Pescara conceded more goals than Inter last season, which is hardly a glowing reference – and yet, unbelievably, things could have been far worse for the Nerazzurri without Handanovic in nets.
If anything, the Slovenian No.1 enhanced his reputation despite his club’s horrific season, displaying sharp reflexes and a commanding presence behind a leaky Inter defence. Manchester City are rumoured to be interested.
77. LEIGHTON BAINES
SAPEVATE CHE...Nessun difensore ha realizzato tanti assist quanto Baines nelle qualificazioni ai Mondiali: 3. (Opta).
Statistics do not a great player make, but Baines created the second-most chances in Europe’s top five leagues last season. From left-back. In a team that finished sixth.
Stylish and relentless (before his injury against Liverpool he’d played the full 90 minutes in his previous 170 Premier League games), the mop-haired adventurer is finally getting the recognition he deserves. His defending needs work, but he takes self-improvement in his stride.
76. DAVID VILLA
SAPEVATE CHE...Il miglior marcatore della storia della nazionale spagnola ha realizzato 11 gol in 32 presenze nell'ultima Liga (Opta).
Having spent large chunk of 2012 on the sidelines with a broken tibia, things were only really ever likely to get better in 2013.
The striker scored the crucial third goal as Barca overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to overcome Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League, before sealing a summer move to Atletico Madrid with the aim of securing regular football and another World Cup winner’s medal.
75. ALVARO NEGREDO
SAPEVATE CHE...Negredo ha realizzato 22 gol dal novembre 2012 all'ottobre 2013, diventando il secondo miglior marcatore spagnolo dopo Roberto Soldado (25) (Opta).
After scoring 69 league goals over four years for Sevilla, Negredo earned his shot at Premier League stardom by joining Manchester City and has made an impressive start to life in England.
The powerful frontman netted in two of his opening three league appearances for his new club and wasted no time in striking up a potent partnership with another talismanic import from the Spanish top flight, Sergio Aguero.
EXCLUSIVE Alvaro Negredo interview in the new FourFourTwo
74. MICHAEL CARRICK
SAPEVATE CHE...Il centrocampista dello United è il giocatore che ha provato più passaggi nell'ultima Premier League (2773) (Opta).
In days gone by, pundits used to claim that flair players like Glenn Hoddle would have received a century of caps for any other country. A similar complaint could be made for 31-cap Michael Carrick, whose unflustered interceptions and distribution have kept Manchester United ticking over for going on eight seasons.
Expect Roy Hodgson to export his calming metronome to Brazil - and rightly so.
73. MARIO MANDZUKIC
SAPEVATE CHE...Con 4 gol è stato il capocannoniere della nazionale croata alle qualificazioni ai Mondiali (Opta).
Roughly a goal every other game isn’t bad going for your first season with Bayern Munich, let alone lifting a hat-trick of trophies to boot.
The Croatian’s job is simple - scoring - and making sure the work of Ribery & Co. doesn’t go to waste is what he does best. No frills, just guaranteed goals.
72. JAN VERTONGHEN
SAPEVATE CHE...Solo Glen Johnson (16) e Daniel Agger (15) hanno chiuso più gare senza subire gol. Vertonghen arriva a quota 14 (Opta).
A knack for the perfect last-gasp tackle and impressive composure in possession helped the versatile Tottenham star win a place in the Premier League’s team of 2012/13 at centre-back, despite playing at least a third of the season a left-back.
Although by his own admission the latter not his favoured position, it is where he’s likely to feature for Belgium at next summer’s World Cup.
71. DANIELE DE ROSSI
SAPEVATE CHE...De Rossi è il giocatore che ha toccato più palloni (1127) e ha completato il maggior numero di passaggi (839) di tutta l'ultima Serie A (Opta).
While 2012/13 may not have been a vintage season for the midfielder, De Rossi has been much improved this season under the watchful eye of new coach Rudi Garcia.
He may continue to be merely ‘Captain Futuro’ (future captain) of the Stadio Olimpico outfit, with the evergreen Francesco Totti signing yet another new contract in September, but De Rossi’s importance to Roma’s resurgence shouldn’t be underestimated.
100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10-1