Ranked! The 100 best players in the world, 2022
The best players in the world in 2022, featuring all-time greats, up-and-coming wonderkids and the stars we've been raving about all season
90. Jack Grealish
The £100 million Manchester City record signing hasn't kicked on at the Etihad like many expected, in part thanks to tactical issues. Joao Cancelo is often used in Grealish's berth because of a lack of an established left-footed left-back, leaving the No.10 somewhat placeless in Pep Guardiola's set-up.
Yet there's no denying his brilliance. His ability to pull full-backs out of position, drift, create and combine is mesmeric to watch. Grealish has the game-changing trait that Guardiola sought to win knockout games, too, and he's still one of City's most devastating weapons.
89. Paul Pogba
It's easy to forget about him. Paul Pogba has had a tough year, what with injury, leaving Manchester United and the flack he got in England – but his ability is still undeniable. When he was in his groove, Pogba had made a home out on the left creating for fun and displaying exactly why he was once a record signing. He will be missed for France, too, in Qatar.
The price tag weighs heavy on his shoulders and yet Antony still sees no issue with cavorting through back fours as if they're not there, with all the confidence of a street player. He's been a hit so far in English football, displaying a ferocious finish and good 1v1 ability: you can see why Erik ten Hag demanded him.
87. Eduardo Camavinga
He's not just the next big thing, he changed multiple games for Real Madrid en route to a European title. Eduardo Camavinga announced himself spectacularly for Rennes against PSG at the age of 16 and we all knew he'd need a little time to cook – but he's coming along nicely.
The Frenchman is effervescent in midfield for Real, unbelievably bright in possession and looks unbelievably assured for just 20 years old. This position could be his for the next decade.
86. Cristian Romero
Tottenham's defence has looked weary since the exits of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld – but Cristian 'Cuti' Romero has been an acquisition of the very highest class. Phased by absolutely nothing, with a wicked pass and the hawk-like awareness, the Argentine has been a huge hit and is still one for the future.
85. Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane was always a classy operator for Real Madrid – at Manchester United, he's become one of the first names on the team sheet when fit.
The defender has won basically everything in the sport and has stepped up at Old Trafford to assume a leadership role at the back, even alongside captain Harry Maguire. With Lisandro Martinez next to him, they've formed a superb partnership – and he's proven himself to be excellent in his own right and not just a passenger next to Sergio Ramos for all those years.
84. Ousmane Dembele
At one point, it seemed utterly impossible that he'd stay at Barcelona beyond his last contract – but Ousmane Dembele has rediscovered himself in 2022. There's no one like this guy when he's in full flight: unpredictable, able to beat his man on the inside or out and equally devastating when shooting or creating. He's back to his best.
83. N'Golo Kante
N'Golo Kante's injury issues are one of the great injustices of football. Few players inject such childlike joy into the art of ball-winning, playing at a hundred miles an hour and mastering the midfield. He simply needs to come back soon: Chelsea aren't the same without a full-throttle Kante in their side.
82. Aymeric Laporte
One of the most elegant defenders in English football, Aymeric Laporte was simply born to play football under Pep Guardiola. Perhaps his physicality, anticipation and sheer mentality are underrated just because his team has the ball the majority of the time – but the Spain international is still one of the best defenders on Earth.
81. Ansu Fati
There is nothing that scares Ansu Fati: not the weight of Barcelona's hopes and dreams and certainly not the No.10 shirt on his back. And why would he be? The 20-year-old is simply unstoppable at full pelt.
Fati feels like he was concocted in a lab experiment at La Masia. He has the speed, drive, two-footedness and low centre of gravity to dart between opponents to create and to score. He's incredibly versatile, too: we still don't know where he plays best or what he'll become… but it's so exciting watching to find out.
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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...
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