FourFourTwo's Top 100 Players in the World 2013: 20-11

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…


It would have been hard for Sergio Aguero to top 2012, the year in which his late goal snatched The Most Dramatic Premier League Title Win. And, to be fair, he hasn't: the Manchester City of 2013 have been far inferior to the table-topping vintage, and other strikers elsewhere have caught the eye and leapfrogged the Argentinian.

That said, Aguero has started this campaign in champagne form, and it's not his fault the defence can't cope with away games. 


Love him or loathe him, it’s hard not to admire the Uruguayan’s continued class in front of goal. Suarez netted 30 times in 2012/13 before his season ended prematurely for chomping at Branislav Ivanovic’s arm.

Revered by fans and team-mates (Steven Gerrard hails him as the best he’s ever played with), the 26-year-old has formed a potent partnership with Daniel Sturridge since returning from a 10-match suspension.

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Imagine, at the age of 21, moving 5,500 miles for your job. Now imagine being signed to replace the man commonly agreed to be the best in the world at that job for the last few years. Now imagine being expected to lead your country to glory in the World Cup your 200 million compatriots have spent their lives waiting to host.

Welcome to the world of Neymar. His 2013 has been insane, but his 2014 could blow it out of the water. If he truly settles at Barcelona, he might enter the World Cup on a roll. And who knows where that might take him?


FEATUREHow Barcelona's Plan B can become the main man


There aren't many players higher in this list who excel in more than one position, but then there aren't many you'd back in a fight against Toure.

But he's no mere battering ram: at his best, the 6ft 4in Ivorian typifies our great game's unique balance of strength and skill, gliding past opponents with the assured grace of an ocean liner. But an ocean liner that can do a Cruyff turn and score from 25 yards. 


A change can do you good. Although Ozil would have been happy to stay in Madrid, he was sold to Arsenal, who are benefiting enormously from altering their purchase policy from promising to proven.

It's typically Wengerian to improve the team by augmenting the attacking midfield, but it's working brilliantly so far – and the player, and Premier League, are the better for it.

EXCLUSIVE Mesut Ozil interview in the new FourFourTwo


Cesc is back. Things looked to be turning sour at Barcelona for the former Arsenal star as he often found himself on the bench for big games, but under Tata Martino he has been liberated in a more relaxed system.

In Messi’s absence Fabregas has taken on more responsibility going forward, scoring goals and creating plenty of opportunities in La Liga. Playing his best football since returning to his boyhood club in 2011. 


A brooding, beastly bundle of intensity, Cavani hit 29 goals in 34 games to win Serie A’s capocannoniere award for top scorer.

A gem of a marksman who drives his teams on with an almost unhealthy will to win, PSG were only too happy to pay the €64million buyout fee to secure ‘El Matador’s’ unique talents.

13. XAVI

Barça’s pass master extraordinaire drops out of the top 10 this year, falling seven places. At his best, Xavi remains a phenomenon in midfield, the team’s metronome and chief instigator of play. He calms, he soothes, he speeds it up or slows it down. Such extraordinary vision and execution will undoubtedly see him go down in history as one of Spain’s greatest ever players.

However, at 33 there are just the slightest signs that he’s starting to lose a bit of mobility, and it was alarming how completely outplayed he was in the two Champions League semi-finals against Bayern.


Without him Dortmund don’t have the firepower to topple Bayern Munich - and that’s the huge worry with a summer move to their Bundesliga rivals seemingly inevitable. 

Second only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League scoring charts last season, his four first-leg semi-final goals against Real Madrid typified just how vital the Pole really is to Dortmund’s cause.


Is it finally time to call Busquets one of the best players in the world? Absolutely. No other player – not even Xavi – combines the elegant pivote’s ease of distribution, mathematician’s spatial awareness and tough tackles. Even the play acting and winking is on the wane.

Without him, Barcelona and Spain would struggle. Uber-impressive.


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Gary Parkinson is a freelance writer, editor, trainer, muso, singer, actor and coach. He spent 14 years at FourFourTwo as the Global Digital Editor and continues to regularly contribute to the magazine and website, including major features on Euro 96, Subbuteo, Robert Maxwell and the inside story of Liverpool's 1990 title win. He is also a Bolton Wanderers fan.