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
60. Victor Osimhen
Napoli are flying this season and they largely have their Nigerian goal-machine to thank for that. Osimhen has been banging them in at a rate El Diego would have been proud of, with his pace and movement proving far too much for defenders to deal with. The 23-year-old forward is heavily linked with a move to the Premier League next summer.
59. Ronald Araujo
The Uruguayan will sadly miss the World Cup in Qatar, after sustaining an injury for Barcelona earlier in the season. It’s a huge loss, too. The defender is quick, strong and superb with the ball at his feet. Equally adept at mopping up opposition attacks as launching moves for his own team, the 23-year-old is an excellent prospect and could become a great at Camp Nou.
58. Matthijs de Ligt
The Dutchman’s crown may have slipped since he marshalled a young Ajax side to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19, but it’s easy to forget that Matthijs De Ligt is only 23. At Juventus, he struggled to replicate those early, imperious defensive displays but, now at Bayern, he’ll be given time to develop the leadership that seemed to come so naturally as a teenager.
57. Serge Gnabry
At Bayern, the former Arsenal and West Brom tyro has developed into a technically-faultless and muscular presence on the wing. He’s not just a brilliant dribbler and finisher, but a leader on and off the pitch. His comments on various topics, from human rights to fan culture, are a testament to the character of an otherwise superb footballer.
56. Reece James
Injuries have blighted the Englishman’s 2022/23 season, and also cost him a place in Qatar. It’s a huge shame, given the quality at both ends he offers Chelsea and England. James is fast developing into one of the most complete full-backs in Europe and has a long way still to go until he reaches his prime as a defender. The ceiling is very high indeed.
55. William Saliba
After spending another campaign out in the wilderness last season, few Arsenal fans were expecting big things from their very own loan ranger this term. Yet the 21-year-old defender has become one of many success stories in the Gunners’ so-far-impressive campaign. The Frenchman is fast, powerful, good in possession and tactically astute, and his partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes has the potential to become one of the club’s greatest.
54. Gianluigi Donnarumma
Now the undisputed No.1 at PSG, Donnarumma is reminding the footballing world why he is considered the best goalkeeper of his generation. His imperious displays at Euro 2020 were key to Italy’s success and he’ll be more gutted than anybody not to get the chance to go for the world title in Qatar. Still only 23, the gloveman already looks certain to become one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
53. Achraf Hakimi
The Moroccan’s blistering pace and impressive final product received worldwide attention during his loan spell with Borussia Dortmund in 2020/21. He was then snapped up by Inter and helped fire them to a first Serie A title in over a decade. Now at PSG, Hakimi’s star continues to rise, as he’s consistently one of the best performers in a team containing superstars.
52. Thiago Alcantara
That Thiago was overlooked for Luis Enrique’s World Cup squad left many stunned, yet it had more to do with a crop of young players emerging than any huge drop off in the midfielder’s powers. He remains one of the most watchable and technically-gifted deep-lying playmakers in world football. Jurge Klopp has often favoured more workmanlike midfielders, so the fact that he's integrated such a silky technician into his trio is a testament to how highly he is valued by all types of coaches.
51. Gabriel Jesus
Man City’s decision to sell the tireless Brazilian to Arsenal is looking more short-sighted by the week. Finally given the responsibility in North London that he long craved as understudy to Sergio Aguero at the Etihad, Jesus has been miraculous this campaign.
He’s a reliable source of goals himself but, really, it’s his movement and intelligent pressing that have become crucial to Arsenal’s surge to the top of the Premier League. The No.9’s link-up play has meant Mikel Arteta’s entire midfield are scoring more, with Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Granit Xhaka particularly thriving around him. A modern, technically-superb striker, and maybe just Arsenal’s missing piece of the puzzle.
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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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