How we decided on The 100 Best Players
Ronaldo, Messi, Torres, Casillas, Kaka, Villa, Ibrahimovic, Aguero, Ferdinand, Gerrard.
No, it's not Man City's January shopping list: it's our Top 10, the FourFourTwo verdict on the best players in the world in 2008.
Anyone agree? No one?
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the problem with compiling a list of the best players in the world. No two football fans will come up with the same list. Give it a go. Try finding a friend who agrees with your Top 10 Ã¢ÂÂ in order. You canÃ¢ÂÂt. Jeez, youÃ¢ÂÂll probably lose a day arguing about whoÃ¢ÂÂs better out of Gerrard and Lampard.
"Oh, it's definitely you." "No, it's you." "Oh, alright then."
Which is why the new issue of FourFourTwo (out today) will be infuriating to just about everyone. You see, we havenÃ¢ÂÂt just named the Top 10, weÃ¢ÂÂve gone for 100, an opportunity to offend just about every football fan on the planet.
Liverpool fans will be outraged that Steven GerrardÃ¢ÂÂs only 10th, Chelsea that they donÃ¢ÂÂt have a single player in the top 12.
Manchester CityÃ¢ÂÂs Arab backers will no doubt be horrified that ÃÂ£32.5m Robinho only just makes the top 50, while Southampton fans will be distraught that thereÃ¢ÂÂs a Pompey player in our list.
Patriots will hate the fact that there are 13 Italians and 12 Spaniards but only eight Englishmen; Premier League critics that there are more players from that league than any other.
And so on, and so on, and so on.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs an impossible task (not the offending, that bitÃ¢ÂÂs easy; the list is more difficult). After all, what makes a rock-solid centre-back better or worse than a mercurial matchwinner with a lazy streak? How do you compare the best goalkeeper in the world with the finest goalscorer?
Do you include the wonderkid of the moment ahead of the accomplished veteran with a fistful of medals? And how do you strike the balance between form and class (the one being temporary, the other permanent, as any clichÃÂ©-watcher will know)?
In the end, this is what we decided:
(1) This list is our judgement of the best players in the world right now. It takes as its yardstick performances throughout last season and the early stages of 2008-09. So form mattersÃ¢ÂÂ¦
(2) Ã¢ÂÂ¦but itÃ¢ÂÂs not everything. If Lionel Messi were injured for a year, would you really exclude him from your list of the best players in the world?
(3) Although weÃ¢ÂÂve considered players from every league in the world, the English, Spanish, Italian, German and French leagues dominate. ItÃ¢ÂÂs one thing to impress as a big fish in a little pond, quite another to do it against top-class opposition. Ask Mateja Kezman.
"You wouldn't let it lie..."
So thatÃ¢ÂÂs that. But even after an unhealthy amount of time Ã¢ÂÂdebatingÃ¢ÂÂ our list, we still disagree. With ourselves.
No sooner had we put Wayne Rooney at No.24 than he hit what heÃ¢ÂÂs since described as the best form of his life. Are we seriously saying there are 23 players weÃ¢ÂÂd rather have in our team right now? Well, somehow, we are.
And for that, we deserve to be crucified. So, to our forums, to tell us what you think.
Find out the full 100 Best Players In The World in the new issue of FourFourTwo, out today