Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and one of the most exciting things about watching the sport at all levels is seeing how incredible the players are. The skill of footballers continues to amaze spectators, especially as they set new records each year that seem nearly impossible to break. Footballers continue to go from strength to strength, so here’s our list of the top 10 best football players in the world by 2022!
10. Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland is one of the best teenage soccer players in the world after only one season on the scene. His numbers are too ridiculous to not be among the world’s best players, even though he is 19 years old. He started the season with RB Salzburg in Austria, scoring 16 goals and assisting 6 times in 14 league games. He also scored 8 goals and one assist in the Champions League group stage. In 15 Bundesliga games, the Norwegian forward netted 13 goals and provided three assists. As a result of these astonishing numbers, Haaland is currently ranked top 10 this season with 44 goals and 10 assists in 40 games.
Almand is definitely still young and has the time to improve, so he will be able to play for better clubs and score more goals. This season is not simply a breakout year for him; if he had won any trophies this year, he would for sure be a contender for the Ballon d’Or. Though knocked out of the Champions League by PSG in the round of 16, Haaland scored two goals, including a magnificently powerful long-range strike. The Frenchman, Mbappé, and a few other youngsters who are considered to be the future of football all seem to be here to stay.
9. Riyad Mahrez
Comparable to Liverpool, it is hard to identify one standout attacking player on a side with so much depth in the forward positions and on the wings. That difficulty is exacerbated by the depth of Manchester City’s squad, as some of the team’s best players have to watch from the bench. I needed to include at least one Manchester City attacker, and between the likes of Bernardo Silva, Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and even the injured Leroy Sané, I chose the former Leicester City player and Algerian international.
In 60% of City’s matches this season, Riyad Mahrez has achieved double digits in goals and assists. Mahrez has incredible ball control and a remarkable first touch. He would most likely be a starter for any other team in the world.
8. Sadio Mané
Besides the team’s defensive strength, Liverpool has had one of the most potent offenses in the world in the past few years, and Sadio Mané has been a key player on that end. The Senegalese winger has been excellent for the current English and European champions, recording 16 goals and 9 assists so far this season and winning the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals in the last alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and teammate Mo Salah.
Although Mo Salah scored record-breaking goals two seasons ago or Roberto Firmino is more technical over the wingers, Sadio Mané stands out. His pace, finishing, and control are all world-class, and he has scored some incredible goals for Liverpool in the past two seasons, including a brilliant chip against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last year. Mané came in fourth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or, which suggests he’s a contender for the 2020 award as well.
7. Virgil van Dijk
A defender, he was first purchased by Liverpool from Southampton in 2018. Soon enough, he would prove to be one of the best Premier League defenders of all time. One of the most important players in an excellent championship-winning side, Virgil van Dijk was runner-up for the 2019 Ballon d’Or, nearly winning the award. Nonetheless, Van Dijk did end up taking home the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award. In the Premier League last season, Van Dijk conceded only 22 goals, kept 20 clean sheets, had a 74% tackle success rate, and had the second-most number of passes, making him Premier League Player of the Year. Liverpool won just one league game and finished in second place with 97 points behind Manchester City. Despite not winning the league, Liverpool were able to clinch the Champions League title, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup. He was never dribbled past at all throughout the whole of the season.
Van Dijk has led Liverpool to its first Premier League title in 30 years, but he hasn’t had a stellar season as last year. However, he still has the most passes in the Premier League and has managed to keep the most clean sheets. Over the past two seasons, he has bolstered and commanded Liverpool’s backline and has proven to be one of the best defenders in the world.
6. Kevin De Bruyne
If any other player could seriously challenge for the Ballon d’Or this year, it’s Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian midfielder is undoubtedly world-class. Easily the best midfielder in England, his vision and passing ability are of unparalleled skill. De Bruyne has 11 goals and 18 assists in the Premier League this season, and with four games left to play, is well on track to breaking Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 assists in a season.
They may have ceded the Premier League title to Liverpool this season, but Pep Guardiola’s dominant Manchester City team will want to prove itself when the Champions League resumes in August, and Kevin De Bruyne will be a major factor in whether or not City can finally lift the trophy that the team has so coveted.
5. Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé lags behind Lewandowski on my list due to his youth and the fact that he hasn’t played since March. However, in a few years, the French 21-year-old could very well be at the top, for his stats and ability are absolutely and objectively exceptional. He is already a World Cup winner, with a goal in the final, and a four-time Ligue 1 winner . Despite being hampered by injury this season, Mbappé still scored 18 goals and made 7 assists in 20 league appearances. He managed 47 goals and assists in 33 games in all competitions. These are Messi numbers. Those are Ronaldo’s numbers. Those are Mbappé’s numbers.
The abrupt end of Ligue 1 means Mbappé will probably be an outsider for the 2020 Ballon d’Or. However, if he and PSG win the Champions League title in August, with Neymar as his partner, he could jump right back in the conversation.
4. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski just finished his sixth season with Bayern Munich as well as his tenth season in the Bundesliga, helping the club win its eighth title in a row. And at 31, he had his best season yet. Having only failed to score in six games, Lewandowski scored seven braces and a hat trick as he secured the Bundesliga’s top scorer award for the fifth time in his career. In 43 matches in all competitions, he scored 51 goals and had 6 assists, including two in Bayern’s DFB Pokal final. If Lewandowski continues to score in all Champions League games this season, those numbers will likely increase when the competition resumes in Lisbon in August.
After such an incredible season, Robert Lewandowski is well in the running for the 2020 Ballon d’Or. If Lewandowski is able to keep up his incredible form and, as a result, help Bayern Munich win the Champions League, the decision could turn out to be somewhat obvious. This looks well within reach for the Polish international, as Bayern Munich are widely considered to be favorites to lift the trophy.
3. Neymar Jr.
Even with struggling with injury this season and not playing for several months due to France’s decision to end the season early, Neymar Jr. comes in third on my list. This shows just how great he is when healthy. In only 15 league games this season, Neymar recorded 13 goals and 6 assists. That is almost twice as many as he recorded in 22 games of all competitions combined, 18 goals and 10 assists. Though he’s had only one season at full health during his three at Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar’s exceptional skills are readily apparent whenever he steps onto the field. And the only reasons Neymar hasn’t won the Ballon d’Or is because he was in competition with Ronaldo and Messi, and because he suffered from several injuries. In the absence of those three qualities, Neymar would without a doubt be the best player of all time.
Along with the Ballon d’Or, Neymar has also expressed interest in winning the Champions League with PSG. Although Neymar has progressed well in the Champions League and is now into the quarterfinals, he remains motivated to succeed in the tournament
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is 35 years old, playing in Italy only for his second year and still racking up absurd goal totals. Until he retires, he will be ranked near the top. Juventus has had 28 goals and six assists from Ronaldo in 28 games this season. He has contributed 39 goals to the team in all competitions. It is currently a race between him and Lazio’s Ciro Immobile to win the Capocannoniere (Serie A’s top scorer) and he has been the star of Juve’s title-winning campaign. With two Champions League titles to his name, Ronaldo will be looking to finish his treble when the competition resumes in August.
Out of the 20 teams in Seria A, Juve ranks 16th in crosses this season, and 14th in accurate crosses and assists from crosses. Ronaldo is averaging a goal a game this season with less help from his teammates than in the past. Even with the lack of crossing ability, Ronaldo has the most headed goals in the history of soccer. Yet, this lack of ability has only hurt his goal count, as he is one behind the league’s leading scorer.
1. Lionel Messi
It’s been a decade since The Atomic Flea topped this list, and the 33-year-old is still going strong. In fact, he has become accustomed to sensational seasons and stats. With 22 goals so far and three games left in the season, Messi is likely to win La Liga top scorer for the seventh time in his career, despite missing Barcelona’s first four games. In addition to those 22 goals, Messi has also contributed 20 assists in the league, breaking his previous personal best of 18 assists in a season. For any player, it would be the season of a lifetime. For Lionel Messi, it is just business as usual.
Messi has 27 goals and 24 assists in all competitions and is hoping to lead Barcelona to its first Champions League title since the 2014-15 season. Messi was the last player to win the Ballon d’Or, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk by only seven points. The Argentinian forward continues to play unstoppable and exciting soccer as usual despite Barcelona’s managerial issues and uncertainty over Messi’s future. He recently scored his 700th career goal for the club.