FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2016: 50-41
Featuring Chelsea's chief goal-getter and a double European champion...
50. Mats Hummels
Hummels was the latest player to follow the well-trodden path from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in the summer, joining Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski in swapping black and yellow for red and white.
Dortmund supporters were understandably irked at losing yet another of their star men to Big Bad Bayern, but Hummels could hardly be begrudged a move to one of Europe’s elite outfits. After all, the 27-year-old has bounced back from a below-par 2015 and demonstrated exactly why he’s one of the world’s leading centre-halves this year.
“For me, Mats Hummels remains the best defender in Germany because he's the most complete,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Sport1 in August. “I see him ahead of Jerome Boateng, but it's an open race.”
One thing’s for sure: that’s a rather mean centre-back pairing Bayern have to call upon. – GL
At the age of just 24, Koke has already made more than 200 appearances for Atletico Madrid’s first team and B side, and his importance to Diego Simeone’s machine shouldn't be understated. As Atleti undergo their own evolution, the Spaniard has been afforded the chance to become less peripheral on the international scene too.
Though Koke has been involved with la Roja since 2013, the quality of Spain’s midfield options has made things tough. Under new boss Julen Lopetegui, however, the Atleti midfielder has been first choice throughout this year’s World Cup qualifiers and appears set to make the long-awaited transition to becoming national stalwart under the ex-Porto boss.
Koke chipped in with 14 assists in the league last season but fell short at the final hurdle in Europe. That setback will force the Atletico man to once again show his competitive temperament and kick on under the watchful eye of Diego Simeone in 2016/17. – SH
48. Raphael Guerreiro
How France fans must have wished Guerreiro had chosen the country of his birth rather than that of his father’s as they watched the tenacious and skilful left-back nullify Paul Pogba, smash a free-kick against the bar and generally put in a display full of verve and class in the European Championship final.
As well as his energetic and technically proficient play, Guerreiro’s tactical understanding means he is equally effective in several positions, with his intelligence on the pitch mirrored by the way he's managed his career. Improving year on year in France for Lorient, he patiently waited for the right opportunity before joining Borussia Dortmund ahead of PSG and Barcelona this summer.
He's settled immediately in Germany, playing as a left-back, a left winger and even in central midfield. “Guerreiro is too good to be restricted to just one position,” says his coach Thomas Tuchel. – TK
47. Paulo Dybala
As last season began, the biggest question mark surrounding Juventus was how Dybala would handle his €32 million move from Palermo to Turin. A star in Sicily, the young Argentine answered every doubt emphatically and ensured the Bianconeri didn't miss the departing Carlos Tevez one bit, with his tally of 23 goals and nine assists coming almost exclusively via his magical left boot.
He danced past opponents in the Champions League too, netting in the 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich before missing the return leg with an injury that only served to highlight his importance to the team, who crashed out without their talismanic star.
"Dybala is unique," Carlo Ancelotti told Tuttosport recently. “He's truly a modern forward, combining his runs and dynamism with his talent. He could make history with Juve for the next 10 years.” Who are we to argue? – AD
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