Ranked! The 100 best players in the world, 2022

20. Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer

(Image credit: Getty)

Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of the modern era – perhaps even of all time – Neuer has redefined the 'sweeper-keeper' role throughout a glittering career which, even as he inches towards his 37th birthday, shows no sign of slowing down.

An undeniably elite shot-stopper, Neuer's unique pace, athleticism and first-rate reading of the game allow him to take control of an area far bigger than the immediate vicinity of his goal. He's almost as important to starting attacks as he is to thwarting them.

Throughout a glittering career for club and country, the Bayern Munich and Germany captain has won 10 Bundesliga titles, two Champions Leagues and the World Cup – as well as countless individual accolades.

19. Rafael Leao

Rafael Leao of AC Milan controls the ball during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and AC Milan at Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, Italy on 1 October 2022.

(Image credit: Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Involved in no fewer than 19 goals in AC Milan's scudetto-winning campaign of 2021/22, Leao is an all-round attacking threat who's become one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

The Portuguese Mbappe's goalscoring and creative exploits saw him named Serie A's Most Valuable Player last term, while the 23-year-old also finished joint 14th in the Ballon d'Or ranking (six places ahead of legendary compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo).

Compared to Thierry Henry by Milan boss Stefano Pioli, Leao's combination of scintillating speed and devilish dribbling ability make him an exceedingly exciting talent to watch – and really, he's only just getting started.

18. Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich

(Image credit: PA)

When you think about Kimmich, one of the first words which springs to mind is 'versatility' – such is his ability to seamlessly switch between various midfield roles and right-back.

Lots of players are versatile, though; few apply their elasticity to such a world-class degree as the man who's been one of Bayern Munich and Germany's main men for the past five years plus.

In the words of his former Bayern boss, Pep Guardiola, Kimmich "has everything a player needs" – including some spectacular goals. Simply put, he's one of the very best midfielders on the planet.

17. Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois

(Image credit: Getty)

16. Bernardo Silva

Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva celebrates

(Image credit: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

City’s midfield maestro was one of the key men behind their Premier League title win last season, providing eight goals and four assists as Pep Guardiola’s side edged out Liverpool by one point.

Silva scored one goal and set another up in their two-legged Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid, but that wasn’t enough to stop the eventual champions from progressing.

Operating in a variety of roles in midfield and attack, Silva showed his footballing intelligence and versatility and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year, while he’s already surpassed last seasons assist tally this season by setting up five goals in the Premier League, scoring twice.

15. Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk of The Netherlands during the UEFA Nations League A Group 4 match between Netherlands and Belgium at Johan Cruijff ArenA on September 25, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands

(Image credit: Peter Lous/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

It has been a difficult season so far for Van Dijk, like many of his Liverpool team-mates, but the Dutchman remains one of the best in the business in his position.

The centre-back was the cornerstone of Liverpool’s fight on four fronts last season, making 51 appearances in all competitions and earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year and Champions League Team of the Season as the Reds went all the way in every competition they entered.

Van Dijk ended the season as a League Cup and FA Cup winner, but Liverpool fell short in the Champions League final against Real Madrid and finished one point behind Man City in the Premier League.

14. David Alaba

David Alaba Real Madrid

(Image credit: Getty)

13. Luka Modric

Luka Modric of Croatia looks on during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Austria and Croatia at Ernst Happel Stadion on September 25, 2022 in Vienna, Austria.

(Image credit: Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

Rumour has it airports have tried to recruit Modric as radar, such are the accuracy and reliability of his passing. The greatest Croatian footballer of all time is so much more than that, though.

A Pirlo-esque presence in midfield, the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner never looks even a little bit fazed in possession – which he maintains and manipulates with metronomic consistency.

Still pulling the strings for Real Madrid and Croatia at 37, Modric has enjoyed an accolade-laden career: he's won the Champions League five times, and scooped the Golden Ball after captaining his country (for whom he's earned a record [...] caps) to their first-ever World Cup final in 2018.

12. Alisson

Alisson Becker

(Image credit: Getty)

As far as FFT are concerned, Alisson is the best goalkeeper in the world right now. Liverpool and Brazil's number one excels in all areas you'd want a 21st-century custodian to.

Cool as the most zen of cucumbers under pressure, the 30-year-old is the master of the one-on-one and has always produced enough worldie saves to to fill multiple dubiously-soundtracked YouTube compilations.

And then there's his distribution: we could pick out countless examples, but it's hard to see past his assist for Mo Salah's winner against Manchester City earlier this season for a ball which sums up Alisson's ability with the ball at his feet.

11. Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

(Image credit: Getty)

It's no coincidence that Liverpool have struggled badly since Mane's departure this summer: the Senegalese speed demon set the standard for insanely intense forward play during his six years at Anfield.

But the Reds' loss has very much been Bayern Munich's gain: the 2018/19 (joint) Premier League Golden Boot winner has kept the goals coming under another coach who loves a good bit of gegenpressing: Julian Nagelsmann.

All in all, it's been a fantastic year for Mane – who inspired Senegal to their very first Africa Cup of Nations triumph, scoring the decisive penalty of the shootout in the final against Egypt.

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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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