As ever, it has been a far from easy task. But the results are in, and we've nailed down the final list.
Will Iker Casillas lose his place in our list like he lost his place in the Real Madrid first team? Will England's 'golden generation' continue to drift? Has the Bundesliga become our most represented league? Can Franck Ribery break the duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
They've both had sensational years but who of Messi or Ronaldo is topping the tree this year? As both battle it out for January's grand FIFA prize we've ranked the duo ourselves based on their 2013 showings. The top three of our list has exactly matched the top three in the Ballon d'Or for the last two seasons, so you should see this as something of a prelude to January's big do in Zurich.
In the new magazine - out on Wednesday - we've interviewed several of the world's best players, including the No.1. But who's the greatest?
There's only one way to find out…
It's a harsh indicator of life at the top that Luka Modric has dropped halfway down the hundred despite racking up dozens of appearances for Real Madrid. It's perhaps also the curse of the adaptable player: Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti have switched the Croatian from attacking midfield to a deeper role and back again.
He may not be the star of the show as he was at Tottenham and Dinamo Zagreb - call it the Reverse Ozil - but many a manager would love to have a reliable standby like Luka.
Juventus’ three-man back line was the cornerstone of their Scudetto-winning 2012/13 season, and 29-year-old Chiellini was a major part of that. With the Italian international in defence, Juve only conceded 24 goals in Serie A, cruising to the title by a nine-point margin.
A strong, physical destroyer, Chiellini isn’t afraid to put his body on the line for his team.
No defender played more times in Italy’s successful World Cup qualifying campaign than the 26-year-old Juventus stopper - no mean feat in a team where rotation rules.
With his club the centre-back is ever-present, and was virtually immovable as the Old Lady claimed a dominant Serie A title last season. One of the few genuinely impressive ball-playing defenders around.
The Frenchman might have endured grumblings from the Madridista faithful for much of the year, but continues to stave off the competition of youngsters Alvaro Morata and Jesé.
Rumours of a move to Arsenal won’t go away, but for now he’ll remain the focal point of Real Madrid’s frontline as Los Blancos aim to lift their beloved Champions League trophy.
With Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani in Paris, only one of the ‘Three Tenors’ remains – but thanks to Hamsik’s newfound leadership, Napoli are stronger than ever. Six goals in nine league starts follows last season’s 11 and chart-topping 14 assists (only Francesco Totti also reached double figures for both).
The Slovakian’s been one of Serie A’s best as Napoli target the Scudetto, and won’t leave a job half done.
The last 12 months may not have quite lived up to the buccaneering Barcelona defender’s 2012 annus mirabilis, but Alba remains one of the best left-backs in the world and was a key cog in los Cules’ Liga triumph.
Still only 24, his recent injury return will give Barça added impetus and zip from deep - a frankly scary prospect.
EXCLUSIVE Jordi Alba interview in the new FourFourTwo
The Belgian's year may have started somewhat inauspiciously, with an infamous punting of a Swansea ballboy, but his influence at Chelsea continues to grow.
Jose Mourinho evidently sees him as Chelsea's key playmaker, meaning 2014 should be an even bigger year for the 22-year-old - especially with a summer trip to Brazil on the agenda.
Still an undisputed starter for club and country of genuine class, it’s a sign of the stately centre-back’s consistent excellence since rejoining Barcelona in 2008 that a slight form drop – and the odd costly error – in 2013 has caused quite such fervour.
And, in fairness, anyone would get distracted going home to Shakira every night.
Like Mario Balotelli, the Argentine called time on his on-off relationship with Manchester City in 2013 in favour of a switch to Serie A. The 29-year-old netted 17 goals last term but was always expected to follow Roberto Mancini out of the Etihad.
Winding up at Italian champions Juventus, Tevez has made a seamless transition under Antonio Conte with his all-action displays, scoring six goals in his first 12 league outings.
At Milan’s recent home draw with Genoa, a banner read: ‘From the golden years of the great Milan to the years of Zapata and Constant’.
The superstars are gone – except one. Balotelli hit 12 goals in his first 13 games to drag Milan into the Champions League; this season they’re 13th, with Mario picking up more cards than goals and even missing penalties. But right now he’s their only hope.
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