Today, The Guardian has completed its top 100 soccer players list by unveiling the top 10. While probably a little too deferential to certain teams and young players, the list is still fascinating for what it says about the soccer world.
For the diehard Madridistas and Cules who only care about the 1.A and 1.B ranking, yes, Lionel Messi won out. Unlike the Ballon d'Or, which Cristiano Ronaldo is all but assured to win in a couple weeks, this list doesn't necessarily have to take into account trophies won, league and international performance, and all that other distracting information that sometimes prevents us from just giving the MVP to the best player. The Guardian is saying that if they had the first pick in a draft of every player, they would take Messi. Eminently reasonable.
What's most interesting are the trends. Only 12 of the top 100 players ply their trade outside the English, Spanish, German, or Italian leagues, and seven of them play for PSG. There are only four Brits, and two of them—Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey—are Welsh. In all, the Premier League leads the way in top 100 players with 29, La Liga is second with 26, the Bundesliga third at 18, and Italy fourth with 17. (Note: some of these numbers are probably off due to inconsistencies when listing transferred players; Paulinho, for instance, is a Spurs player while
Edison Cavini Radamel Falcao is listed as an Atletico Madrid player). Check out the page itself to see some cool charts depicting what they found.
With all that being said, the list is pretty faulty when you really think about it. Even a Barcelona homer like me can admit that Javier Mascherano probably doesn't even belong on a list of the top 100 center backs. The voters here also seems to be in love with young, promising, but ultimately unproven guys. Marquinhos, Lucas Moura, and Marco Verratti of PSG being on the list at all? Neymar at number six? The aforementioned Ramsey in the top 50? And where is Mathieu Valbuena, one of the best number 10s currently doing it? Joao Moutinho?
The soccer stats site FourFourTwo recently made its own top 100 list, and while every ranking of this type is fodder for debate, I feel theirs is a little more accurate (and with even more cool graphics!). I especially like their weighted league metric—they assigned a value of 100 to the number one player, 99 to the number two, and so on, then gave those points to the player's league—which had both La Liga and the Bundesliga as stronger than the EPL. Maybe the Premier League is so competitive this year because nobody is all that good.
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