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Ranked! The 10 best forwards in the world

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3. Neymar (Barcelona/PSG)

Neymar’s groundbreaking move to PSG was the Brazilian’s most memorable contribution to 2017, but his exploits on the pitch shouldn’t be forgotten. Part of why the French giants were so keen to sign him from Barcelona was his magnificent performance in the second leg of the two teams’ Champions League last tie, when the forward inspired Barça to a famous come-from-behind victory at the Camp Nou.

By the end of 2017, Neymar had racked up a combined 29 goals and 27 assists for Barcelona and PSG, two of the strongest teams in the world. Best of all, the 25-year-old probably hasn’t even reached his peak yet.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Ronaldo was convinced by Zinedine Zidane to limit his involvement for Real Madrid’s lesser matches in 2017 – and the results were spectacular. The Portuguese scored 10 goals in los Blancos’ final five games en route to Champions League glory, while his six strikes in the domestic run-in helped Zidane’s charges beat Barcelona to the title.

He was unable to reach such heights at the start of 2017/18, though, scoring just four times before the turn of the year. Ronaldo did manage nine goals in six Champions League appearances, however, suggesting reports of his demise had been greatly exaggerated. A fifth Ballon d'Or win in December drew him level with Lionel Messi.  

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Messi had only a Copa del Rey winner’s medal to show for his efforts in 2016/17, as Real Madrid emerged victorious in both La Liga and the Champions League. It was he who ended the season as the Spanish top tier’s leading scorer, though, and his goals-per-game record in Europe’s premier competition was better than Ronaldo’s.

After almost single-handedly dragging his country to the World Cup with a terrific hat-trick in Argentina’s final qualifier against Ecuador, Messi set about leading Barcelona back to Spain's summit. With 19 goals and nine assists in 20 La Liga matches so far this season, it’s safe to say the 30-year-old is on the right track.

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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Players in the World 2017