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Ranked! The 10 best South American players right now

Neymar, one of the 10 best South American players right now
(Image credit: Getty)

Who are the best South American players right now? It's a tricky question to answer given the quality of footballers that come out of the continent.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay alone have won just one fewer World Cup than the whole of Europe. Throw in the likes of Chile and Colombia, and you've got five countries that have churned out world-class players in recent years.

But who are the cream of South America's current crop? Here's our selection of the continent's 10 best players.

Best South American players right now: 10. Fabinho

Fabinho

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Take Fabinho out of Liverpool (opens in new tab)'s team and the Premier League runners-up are not the same. 

The Brazilian's astute positioning and snappy tackling help the Reds win the ball back quickly, while his understated, tempo-setting passing is a major asset too.

Fabinho still has work to do to nail down a regular starting spot for his country, but that's only because he faces stiff competition for the holding role from another player on this list.

9. Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus

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Long thought of as a central striker, Jesus continues to impress in a wider role for club and country. He's a tricky customer on the flank and has mastered the art of timing his runs to the back post.

The 25-year-old contributed eight goals and eight assists as Manchester City (opens in new tab) won the Premier League title last term. He still needs to become more prolific for Brazil, though, having scored just once since 2019. He'll be hoping that his move to Arsenal this summer helps cement a place in the Brazil World Cup 2022 squad.

8. Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez

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Romelu who? Inter (opens in new tab) needn't have fretted when Lukaku joined Chelsea last summer, because his former strike partner stepped up superbly in his absence.

Martinez scored 25 goals in all competitions, and although Inter narrowly missed out on the Serie A title, the Argentine could hardly have done much more.

His record for his country is impressive too: 38 games, 20 goals. Still only 24, Martinez has every chance of rising up this list in the coming years.

7. Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz

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Few January signings have made as instant an impact as Luis Diaz, who forced his way into Liverpool's starting XI soon after joining the club from Porto (opens in new tab).

A tremendous dribbler with a low centre of gravity and the ability to beat his man on either side, the Colombian does his best work cutting infield from the left flank.

He should arguably have scored more goals than six in the second half of last season, but his all-round performances have left Liverpool fans hugely excited for what comes next.

6. Neymar

Neymar

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Neymar's club career hasn't yet panned out as he would have wanted, particularly since his £198m move to PSG (opens in new tab) in 2017.

At international level, though, the 30-year-old remains Brazil's talisman. He's scored 74 goals in 119 appearances for the national team, and could overtake Pele as his country's all-time leading goalscorer this year.

His antics can sometimes wind up spectators and opponents alike, but Neymar's nimble footwork and tricky dribbling ensure he's more sinned against than sinner when it comes to on-field offences.

5. Casemiro

Casemiro

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A stalwart at the base of Real Madrid (opens in new tab)'s midfield, Casemiro is a master at breaking up play and setting his team on the attack.

The Brazilian is strong in the tackle and a tenacious customer in the midfield battle, but he's also an intelligent operator who's usually in the right place to halt opposition attacks.

Casemiro is useful in possession too: his ball-carrying is underrated but vital to both Madrid and Brazil.

4. Federico Valverde

Federico Valverde

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Valverde's work isn't always as eye-catching as that of his team-mates, but the midfielder is a manager's dream.

Versatile, energetic and technically sound, Valverde has been deployed in central midfield, as a full-back or further forward on the flank.

He's most at home in the centre of the park, a position he usually occupies for Uruguay.

3. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

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What's this, a list where Lionel Messi isn't No.1? Even @MagicalMessi and @LeoGOAT  would concede that the Argentine's best years are behind him, but that doesn't mean he's no longer a world-class footballer.

Messi's debut season at PSG was underwhelming by his extraordinarily high standards, but he still produced several moments of brilliance. 

After finally winning his first international trophy at last summer's Copa America, Messi has his eyes on the World Cup - and a recent five-goal haul against Estonia shows he means business.

2. Alisson 

Alisson

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Liverpool paid a then-world record fee of £56m to sign Alisson in 2018. He's been worth every penny. 

Arguably the greatest one-versus-one goalkeeper on the planet, his positioning is exceptional and his reflexes are much sharper than you might expect from someone with his burly frame.

He might be among the best players in South America but Alisson isn't guaranteed to start for Brazil at the World Cup, with the Liverpool custodian facing stiff competition from Ederson and Weverton.

1. Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior

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Neymar might still be Brazil's talisman but his fellow forward has outshone him over the last couple of years. 

Vinicius netted the winning goal in last month's Champions League final, rounding off a brilliant individual campaign in which he scored 22 goals and provided 16 assists for Real Madrid.

Skilful, tricky and freakishly quick, Vinicius has refined his end product and Madrid are reaping the rewards. Brazil could do the same in Qatar.

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