FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2016: 60-51
56. Alexandre Lacazette
If 2015 was good for Lacazette, this year he's taken his game to another level. The 25-year-old forward ended last season with 15 goals in 19 games, helping Lyon finish second in Ligue 1 and ending PSG’s unbeaten run.
Although doubts surrounding his future persisted, he remained at OL and started the current campaign with a bang, netting a hat-trick against Nancy on the opening day. Injuries have again played their part, though, and his failure to light up the Champions League has prompted suggestions that the striker has done everything he can at his boyhood club. It's therefore time for Lacazette to make the step up and try his luck elsewhere, otherwise it could be too late to challenge for a place in France's World Cup squad. – AG
55. Miralem Pjanic
There's little doubt that Juventus's ability to sign Pjanic in the summer was a major factor in the Bianconeri sanctioning Paul Pogba's sale for a world-record sum. Able to play anywhere in midfield, the Bosnian has already filled in for the injured Claudio Marchisio as a deep-lying playmaker, flanked the Italian after his return and shone in a more advanced role behind the strikers.
Pjanic possesses an excellent range of passing and neat dribbling skills, while his shooting – particularly at set-pieces – has become increasingly deadly. He weighed in with 12 goals and 13 assists for Roma last season, meaning he hit double figures in both for the second successive campaign, and had already added three more goals this term by the time Serie A paused for November’s international break. – AD
54. James Rodriguez
James has had a topsy-turvy time in Spain since joining Real Madrid to great fanfare in 2014. The last 12 months have been particularly underwhelming, with injuries and bad habits on and off the pitch coming to the fore.
There's little doubt the Colombian has regressed in the last two years, cast into the shadows by the likes of Gareth Bale. Regular runs in the first team have been rare, and something needs to change in the next 12 months if he's to kick on once more: James should be mixing it with the Ballon d'Or elite, but instead he's out in the cold at the Bernabeu.
He's suffered with his national team too, taking much of the blame for Colombia's disappointing showing at the Copa America Centenario. James needs to shape up (quite literally – his off-field activities remain dubious) and get back to being the Galactico who shone at the World Cup in Brazil. – DC
Next: Consistency is key