It is finally here! The Top 100 Footballers in the World for 2016 as brought to you by TheMastermindSite.com!
First off this is very different from OFFICIAL: Top 100 Footballers End of Season 2015-16. This is not a list of who the best players are right at this moment in time as 2016 comes to a close, it is instead a list of who played the best in 2016 with reputation coming in as a secondary factor. If you disagree I welcome your opinion and can’t wait to hear about it. The end of year list is nearly impossible to compile and if you’d rather hear about how Julian Brandt is somehow a better footballer than Blaise Matuidi go to FourFourTwo. This is my opinion of the Top 100 Footballers for the Year of 2016 and I can’t wait to share it with you below.
Before we begin let’s talk briefly about the formula. Now normally with the end of season version of this list which again you can view here OFFICIAL: Top 100 Footballers End of Season 2015-16 the formula looks something like this: 42% Overall Ability; 39% Season Form; 7% Club’s Season Form; 5% Form in Previous Season; 5 % Difficulty of League; 2% Mastermind Team of the Week Appearances.
However, the end of the year list uses a different formula where form is far more important than ability while what a player does for their national side is also given more of an examination. So again, just because a player is ranked #23, doesn’t necessarily mean he is the 23rd best footballer in the world, it just means that based on this criteria he had the 23rd best year in football. Here is the formula for compiling and ranking players in 2016!
- 50% Form in 2016
- 30% Overall Ability
- 8% Club’s Form in 2016
- 7% Contribution to National Team Success
- 3 % Difficulty of League
- 2 % Form in 2015
Each player is given a score out of 100 for each category.
For example here is Riyad Mahrez’s formula score for 2016.
Form in 2016
Club’s Season Form
Contribution to National Team Success
|Difficulty of League||95||x 0.03||
|Form in 2015||88||x 0.02||
If you would like to know any other player’s score comment below! Now without further ado let’s get to the list! Please don’t be hesitant to share your thoughts in the comment section below! These are the Top 100 Footballers in 2016!
TOP 100 FOOTBALLERS 2016
Mohamed Salah has been superb in 2016 and has been AS Roma’s best player as they finished third in Serie A in 2015-16 and currently sit in second place behind only Juventus in 2016-17. The Egyptian winger has been in stunning form all year and finished the 2015-16 season with an incredible 14 goals with 6 assists in 34 Serie A matches. He has started off 2016-17 in even better form scoring 8 goals with 4 assists so far in just 14 matches. Mohamed Salah is still only 24 and judging by his fantastic form in 2016 could be on his way to developing into one of the best players in world football.
William Carvalho was arguably the best midfielder in all of Liga Zon Sagres last season as he led Sporting CP to a second place finish in the table behind Benfica by just two points. He then played a massive role in Portugal’s Euro 2016 win, proving to be a crucial cog in midfield in helping Fernando Santos’ side claim victory. The defensive midfielder then continued his fine run of form after Euro 2016, carrying it over to the 2016-17 season, where he has made 10 more passes per game than any other player in Portugal’s top flight. On top of that the defensive minded midfielder has also scored a goal with two assists in thirteen matches as Sporting currently sit third in the table. It is a miracle that a bigger club hasn’t snatched him up already and William Carvalho is one of the best defensive midfielders in world football.
Dele Alli is one of the most overrated players in all of world football. He had one good season and suddenly he was regarded as an angel. Although he was magnificent in 2015-16 he received far too much credit probably for being so good at such a young age and doing what so many others haven’t even come close to accomplishing before their twentieth birthdays. With that said though, Dele Alli definitely deserves a place on this list for his fantastic form in 2016 as he nearly helped lead Spurs towards their first ever Premier League title. The British midfielder scored a stunning 10 goals with 9 assists in 33 matches, playing a large majority of the season at just 19 years of age. But, the Spurs man couldn’t keep up the form he showed in the 2015-16 at Euro 2016 or so far in 2016-17 and has been far too inconsistent for Mauricio Pocchettino this season. However it was still an incredible season for Dele Alli in which he rose all the way to the top of the Premier League after playing in the third tier just under two years ago.
Ousmane Dembele has been absolutely unreal in 2016. The 19-year old Frenchman was one of the very best players in Ligue 1 last season at just the age of 18, scoring 12 goals with 5 assists in 26 matches for Rennes. That incredible run of form earned him an amazing move to Borussia Dortmund and since then Dembele’s career has taken off to new heights. The Frenchman has linked up with the likes of Reus, Gotze and Aubameyang so superbly well and in 14 matches so far has scored 3 goals with 7 assists in the Bundesliga. On top of that, he has also assisted the most goals in the UEFA Europa League so far with 5 in just 6 matches. And don’t forget, Dembele is still a teenager. Ousmane Dembele is an incredible footballer, the best teenager in world football at the moment and had an absolutely unbelievable time in 2016.
Jonas Hector is one of the best players playing outside of one of Europe’s elite clubs and is one of the best left-backs in world football. Jonas Hector stunned the football world with his incredible performances at the back for Germany at Euro 2016 but that wasn’t the only thing he managed to accomplish in 2016. The Cologne captain has been pivotal for his side so far, leading them to a string of impressive results as they currently sit 7th in the Bundesliga. On top of his versatility, he has also completed 2.2 tackles per game and 2.5 interceptons per game and has played every minute of Cologne’s campaign so far. Hector was also brilliant before this campaign, assisting 4 goals in 32 matches to earn a selection to the Bundesliga Team of the Year in 2015/16. Jonas Hector is one of the best defenders in world football and will hopefully earn a big move to a big club very soon.
Mauro Icardi has come to life in 2016 and has been in the form of his life even despite Inter Milan’s poor run of form. Icardi, captain of Inter hasn’t managed to lead his side to any kind of glory this season what he has managed to do is score 12 goals with 4 assists in 16 Serie A matches so far this season, adding on to his already fine tally of 16 goals and 4 assists in 33 matches last season. Icardi has truly been in inspired form this season and although he hasn’t managed to be a difference maker for Inter or Argentina, his indivdual form in front of goal has been so good that he just could not be ommitted from this list.
Daniel Carvajal has been superb this year under Zinedine Zidane. The Spanish fulback was looking likely to lose his place for the long-term after the arrival of Danilo in the summer before the 2015-16 but after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked, Zidane brought Carvajal back into the side on a permanent basis and reaped the rewards. Carvaal was excellent for Real Madrid in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League, playing a massive role in helping them lift the trophy. Unfortunately his injury in the final match of the competition meant that he would miss Euro 2016 but he has started this season off brightly as well. Carvajal played in 8 of Madrid’s 2015-16 Champions League matches scoring one goal and has assisted 2 goals in 5 UEFA Champions League matches so far. Daniel Carvajal is one of the best right backs in the world and had a amazing year in 2016.
Even at the age of 35, Andrea Barzagli is still one of the best defenders in world football. In fact, he arguably had his best season ever as a footballer in 2015-16. The Juventus defender featured in 31 Serie A matches, scored 1 goal, completed 89% of his passes and helped Juventus keep 18 clean sheets in those 31 games as he was named to the Serie A Team of the Season. Barzagli then rocked Euro 2016 forming an unbreakable partnership at the heart of the Italy defense with Juventus teammates Chiellini and Bonucci to help Italy keep 3 clean sheets and make it to the quarter finals. The Italian defender then started off the 2016-17 season only to have age catch up to him and quickly get injured. However, even though he’s 35 years old, Andrea Barzagli was still one of the best defenders in the world this year.
Spanish right back Juanfran, had another fantastic year with Atletico Madrid and Spain in 2016. The 31 year old was once again one of Atletico Madrid’s most important players, featuring in 35 league matches, making 2.1 tackles per game and scoring and assisting 1 goal each in the 2015-16 season. He was also incredibly key in Atletico’s Champions League campaign in which they made it to the final. Juanfran assisted 2 goals in 12 games, helping Atletico keep 8 clean sheets as he was named to the Squad of the Season. His penalty miss in the final was heartbreaking but the Spanish giants likely would not have even gotten to that point if it had not been for this brilliant defender. As many above him he has maintained his fantastic form so far in 2016-17 but hasn’t managed to stand out beyond belief. He has however been one of the best defenders in the league again with 2 assists in 14 matches so far. Juanfran is an excellent fullback and is still one of the very best in the world.
Before Jose Mourinho came in as Manchester United manager, Juan Mata was one of the most criminally underrated players in world football. The Manchester United midfielder still gives everything he can for his club and is still one of the best play-makers in the league. Inconsistency may have hindered his reputation slightly in 2015-16 as he just missed out on a selection to Spain’s Euro 2016 side but since Mourinho has come in as manager for the 2016-17 Juan Mata has slowly began to establish himself again as one of the best midfielders in the league. Despite what seems to be low numbers in just 3 goals and 1 assist in 10 matches so far this campaign in the league, the Spaniard has been excellent for United and has been one of Mourinho’s best player. If he could just get those goal and assist numbers back up to what he was hitting at Chelsea FC he could be on his way to re-establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s best players.
Saul Niguez came out of nowhere in 2015-16 to become one of Atletico Madrid’s most important players in their march towards the UEFA Champions League final. The Spaniard was especially critical in the Spanish side’s semi-final matchup against Bayern Munich and his form in La Liga wasn’t bad either scoring 4 goals with 2 assists in 31 matches from centre midfield. He hasn’t managed to be quite as important for Atletico Madrid so far in 2016-17 but has still been decently important in midfield, assisting 1 goal so far in the league and scoring a goal in the Champions League. Saul Niguez is still only 22-years old and could soon be one of the best midfielders in the league.
In 2016, Rui Patricio has developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world. His form at Euro 2016 for Portugal was incredible as he proved to be one of the nation’s best players in their surprise victory, coming out as the best goalkeeper in the tournament with the Golden Glove. He has also been essential for Sporting CP so far in 2016-17 and was easily the best goalkeeper in the league in 2015-16. Rui Patricio is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and could soon be on his way to a big club.
Radja Nainggolan was one of the best midfielders in Serie A in 2015-16. The central midfielder scored 6 goals with 1 assist in 35 league matches to help Roma finish in third in the table. This fantastic season earned him a place on the Serie A Team of the Year. He also featured in 7 UEFA Champions League matches, assisting 1 goal, and then was a rock for Belgium at Euro 2016 as they made it all the way to the quarter finals. Nainggolan featured in all 5 of his country’s Euro 2016 matches, scoring 2 goals with 1 assist. Although he hasn’t hit top form quite yet in 2016-17 he has still managed to be one of Roma’s key members as they sit second in the table, scoring 3 goals in 15 matches so far. The Belgian midfielder has only recently become known as one of the best midfielders in the world but with him being the age of only 28, there are still bigger and better things to come from this crazy-haired midfielder.
Marco Verratti hasn’t been as essential to PSG’s side as he has been in previous years, but he has still had a year that has been good enough to retain a place inside of the top 100. The Italian international missed Euro 2016 with injury but has been in excellent form under Unai Emery this season, with 2 goals and 1 assist in 14 Ligue 1 matches from defensive midfield. He has also been key to PSG in the UEFA Champions League, assisting 1 goal and completing 107 passes per game in 5 matches so far. Verratti is one of the most complete midfielders in the world and although he didn’t have an exceptional year he is still one of the best central midfielders on the planet.
Jordi Alba has been one of the best left-backs in the world for the past decade and he continued that trend this season with another solid campagin. The Spanish defender assisted 6 goals in 31 league appearances in 2015-16, the most he’s ever achieved in a La Liga season. He was also crucial in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey win, featuring in 3 matches and scoring and assisting one goal each. The Spanish defender has also played some of his best football of his career this season, assisting 3 goals in 9 La Liga matches so far.
Raheem Sterling’s first season at Manchester City was a rather unsuccessful one. The British winger was far too inconsistent under Manuel Pellegrini and only scored 6 goals with 2 assists in 31 matches! That poor run of form translated over to Euro 2016 where he struggled to get anything good going and was dropped by Hodgson pretty early on in the tournament. However, Pep Guardiola has revolutionized Raheem Sterling this season and not even half way through the season he has already equalled his goal + assist tallies of the previous season. In just 15 matches so far this season, the Manchester City winger scored 5 goals with 3 assists so far this season and has been one of Guardiola’s best players as they currently sit in third place. This fantastic run of form has come as a reminder to us all how good Raheem Sterling can be on his day and although he failed to earn a spot on the end of season 2015-16 list, Sterling ranks relatively high on the end of year 2016 list.
2016 just has not been Cesc Fabregas’ year. The best part of Fabregas’ year actually came during Chelsea’s horrific 2015-16 campaign when he actually stepped up to score 5 goals and achieve 7 assists in 37 Premier League matches. Even then he wasn’t brilliant and struggled to lead Chelsea to any kind of conistent run of form. Fabregas also didn’t do too much to impress at Euro 2016 with Spain and since Antonio Conte has come in as manager, has lost his place in the side. This season, the former Gunners captain has scored just 1 goal with 2 assists in 8 matches, having to spend the majority of his time on the bench. Cesc Fabregas is still an incredible footballer and did have a decent enough 2016, but his overall ability is the major reason why he is so high up on this list rather than what he managed actually managed to accomplish this year.
Like pretty much every Chelsea player, Thibaut Courtois was poor for the first half of 2016 under Guus Hiddink but since Antonio Conte has come in as manager has turned things around for himself again. Courtois has been one of 2016-17’s best goalkeepers, keeping 10 clean sheets and conceding just 11 goals in 17 matches so far this season. The Belgian goalkeeper has also been excellent when called upon, saving 2.9 shots per goal and claiming 88% of the crosses that have come his way. However, Courtois hasn’t always been brilliant in 2016 as he struggled for the entirety of the 2015-16 season and did not standout by any means at Euro 2016. However, his fantastic 2016-17 season and reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world earns him a spot as one of the best footballers on the planet for 2016.
Roberto Firmino has been phenomenal for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool in 2016 as he has helped turn the Reds around into a much improved side again. So versatile and so capable in all areas of the game, Roberto Firmino can play a host of different positions and when he is playing as a number 9 he never just stays up front, always roaming around looking to get on the ball and make things happen for his team. The Brazilian scored 10 goals with 7 assists in 31 Premier League appearances last season and has started off this season as one of the league’s standout players with 5 goals and 3 assists in 16 appearances so far. Roberto Firmino is one of the most versatile and incredible players in world football, is an essential component to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and had a wonderful year in 2016.
There’s no denying that this lad is an amazing footballer and has the quality to be one of the very best in the world but he just hasn’t been given his chance to show it on a regular basis this year and even when he has been given the chance, he has failed to really cement his place in the lineup. With the absence of Casemiro so far this season, a place back in the lineup should have been his for the taking but he just couldn’t nail it down. The only reason why he managed to keep himself so high on the list is because of his impressive form for Colombia this year in both Copa America 2016 and World Cup Qualifying 2018 as he has scored 4 goals in all competitions for his national side this year.
Aaron Ramsey is one of the most versatile and talented midfielders in the world. The Welsh international scored 5 goals with 4 assists in 31 matches from playing as a right or central midfielder and was a solid dictator of the tempo of Arsenal’s play in 2015-16. He didn’t standout as being one of Arsenal’s best players but at the same time he still had a solid campaign. But then at Euro 2016 he transformed back into the very best version of himself and was one of the very best players at the entire competition. Aaron Ramsey was one of the stars of the tournament and was fantastic for Wales leading the charge with Gareth Bale as Wales shockingly made it to the semi finals. He scored a goal and assisted 4 as Wales defied expectations and come so close to winning it all. But after Euro 2016 came to a close, Ramsey hasn’t managed to hit top form again, struggling for large parts of the season with injury. However, his incredible form at Euro 2016 was a reminder to us all how good this Welsh midfielder can be on his day.
Although he was unfortunate to miss out on France’s Euro 2016 campaign, Raphael Varane has had an exceptional year with Real Madrid and has proved to be one of their key members as they have collected several trophies. In 2015-16, Varane featured in 26 La Liga matches as Real Madrid narrowly missed out on the title and played 7 matches as Los Blancos lifted the UEFA Champions League. Raphael Varane has been even better this season scoring a goal and featuring in 11 La Liga matches so far and scoring 2 goals in 6 UEFA Champions League matches as he has arguably been Madrid’s best player in the UCL so far. Raphael Varane is an excellent, natural defender and over time will comfortably ease Pepe out of the side and soon become a Madrid legend.
Wayne Rooney was a below-average version of himself for most of the year, but when he turned it on, he was impossible to stop. The striker-turned-attacking midfielder scored 8 goals with 6 assists in 28 league matches in 2015-16 and scored 2 goals in 5 FA Cup matches to help Manchester United lift the trophy. He was also key for England in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying, breaking England’s all time scoring record and helping them secure a spot in France without losing a single game. He then had a solid campaign at the actual Euro 2016 tournament scoring 1 goal and playing as one of England’s only bright spots. Since Jose Mourinho has come in as manager he has struggled to find form and has lost his place in the side to Paul Pogba. However, the Manchester United legend has still managed to score 2 goals with 3 assists in 5 UEFA Europa League matches and 1 goal with 4 assists in 13 Premier League matches (only 7 starts). He is still absolutely integral to both England and Manchester United and although he’s showing signs of aging, he can still absolutely dominate and control games with his killer passing ability, work rate and natural abilities in both attack and defense. Despite popular belief, Wayne Rooney still has what it takes to be one of the best 100 footballers in the world.
Gabi Fernandez was essential to Atletico Madrid’s incredible 2015-16 campaign as he captained them to their second Champions League final in three years and a third place finish in La Liga. Gabi himself was excellent, scoring a goal with 3 assists in 35 league matches and 3 assists in 12 Champions League matches from his defensive midfield position. His tackling, work rate and precise passing are all fantastic and there are few players of his quality that are as underrated as him. Gabi has also started off the 2016-17 campaign nicely after wrongly missing out on Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign, completing 3.3 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game this season.
A clinical finisher, fox in the box and deadly goal scorer, Alexandre Lacazette can score all types of goals and usually does. In 2015-16 that continued as he scored 21 goals with 5 assists in 34 league matches, which was less than just Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Ligue 1. He also scored 2 goals in 6 Champions League matches and his omission from France’s Euro 2016 squad was one of the strangest decisions of all as they instead decided to go with a bloke who couldn’t net a single goal the entire tournament in Andre-Pierre Gignac. Despite the rejection of missing out in the summer spectacle, Lacazette has continued his fine run of form in front of goal this season, scoring 12 goals in 13 matches, just second to Edinson Cavani in the league. Alexandre Lacazette is one of the best natural finishers in the world and by now should really be playing at a bigger club.
After a phenomenal 2015-16 campaign with Celta Vigo, Nolito earned himself a big money move to Manchester City and a spot in Spain’s Euro 2016 squad where he was fairly successful with both teams. Nolito was relatively unknown up until a couple years ago but since then the 30 year old has quickly become a world star. The Celta Vigo winger scored 12 goals with 7 assists in 29 matches and won 9 man of the match awards to help the club finish in their highest position ever as a club, 6th place in La Liga in 2015-16. He then rocked Euro 2016, securing a spot in Spain’s starting lineup despite tough opposition from players like Koke and Pedro, scoring 1 goal with 1 assist in 4 matches at the tournament. Nolito then started life at Manchester City incredibly brightly but strangely lost his place after a couple of rash headbutts. Noltio has scored 4 goals with 2 assists in just 683 minutes so far this Premier League term and definitely deserves to get more playing time than he does as the point in the season when City were flying their highest was when Nolito was in the lineup. Manuel Agudo Durán (Nolito) is a fantastic winger and although he strangely only became a world star recently and is now 30, he still has a long way to go in his Manchester City career.
Willian was just about the only player playing up to his full-ability at Chelsea Football Club in 2015-16. It was probably Willian’s best season ever as he scored 5 goals with 6 assists, creating 81 chances in 35 matches to pick up both the Chelsea Player of the Year and Chelsea Fans’ Player of the Year award. He was also one of the very best players in the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16, scoring 5 goals with 1 assist in 8 matches. The Brazilian midfielder also proved to be one of Europe’s best free kick takers and dribblers, netting six free kick goals and completing 120 dribbles between the league and the Champions League. Oddly enough, Willian lost his place for a little while under Antonio Conte when Pedro Rodriguez found form again but may have regained that place in the side again with his positive performances in recent weeks. Despite less game, Willian has still been good in 2016-17, scoring 3 goals with 1 assist and creating 30 chances in 13 matches so far this season. Willian is a very good footballer, one of the best in the world in certain areas like running, dribbling and free-kick taking and even in a struggling Chelsea side when nobody else could find form he still managed to play well.
In 2015-16, Romelu Lukaku had his best season ever as a footballer. The Belgian forward scored 18 goals in the Premier League to establish himself as one of the league’s best strikers and led the line for Belgium at Euro 2016 scoring 2 goals in 5 matches. Romelu Lukaku always knows where the back of the net is and he demonstrated that in 2015-16 by taking the league by storm to score 18 goals with 6 assists in 32 Premier League matches. He also scored 3 goals in 3 FA Cup matches and 4 goals in 6 Capital One Cup matches to help Everton make it to the semi finals in both competitions. In 2016-17, Lukaku hasn’t quite been as on fire and in-form to the same extent that he was in 2015-16 but has still been lively in front of goal, scoring 9 goals with 3 assists in 16 matches. Romelu Lukaku is still only 23 years old and still has a long-way ahead of him but sooner or later it’s going to have to get to a point where we stop talking about the Belgian’s potential and start talking about whether he is truly as good as what may have been once promised.
Dani Alves is still one of the best fullbacks in the world at the age of 33. Alves was brilliant in helping Barcelona win the La Liga title yet again in 2015-16 by assisting 4 goals in 29 matches. The Brazilian defender also assisted three goals in eight Champions League matches and scored 1 goal in 5 Copa del Rey matches as Barca won the cup. After another fantastic season with Barcelona, Alves finally made his way out of the club over to the Juventus and had a very good start to the season until breaking his leg. Alves is likely to spend the vast majority of the rest of the season out injured but did make a decent start with 2 goals and 2 assists in 13 matches between Champions League and Serie A matches. Dani Alves had a fine 2016 and is still one of the best defenders in the world.
Alvaro Morata always knows where the back of the net is and even now that he is having to play second-fiddle to Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, the Spanish striker is still continuing to score goals. The 24-year old centre forward has scored 5 goals with 2 assists in 12 appearances (just 627 minutes) this season, proving to be one of the best natural finishers in the world. One of the highlights of Morata’s time in 2016 was his form at Euro 2016 as even though Spain couldn’t hit top form the Madrid man still managed to score 3 goals in 4 matches. That was however, the only time in 2016 that Alvaro Morata has managed to be the main man up top as with both Juve and Real Madrid, the striker has had to bide his time from the bench. But the fact that he has still managed to score and assist a lot of goals despite playing most of his time as a substitute is absolutely fantastic.
In the last few years, Grzegorz Krychowiak has developed into one of the best midfielders in Europe. The Polish midfielder is one of the toughest tacklers and most defensively resilient and aware midfielders in Europe while simultaneously being an excellent force in attack. With his stunning performances for Sevilla this year in the Europa League, playing a massive role in their third successive UEL Europa League trophy, Krychowiak received renowned recognition as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He then rocked Euro 2016 with Poland just as he was expected to do, helping them make it to the quarter finals and despite not having a stunning start to life with Unai Emery at Paris Saint Germain, has still been good enough to earn a very high place on this list.
Since moving to Liverpool, Sadio Mane has turned into one of the best players in the entire Premier League as he is currently leading the Reds in goals with 9 so far this season, helping to lead their charge towards the title. Mane was exceptional for Southampton in 2015-16, scoring 11 goals with 6 assists but nobody expected him to be this good at Liverpool and he has just been in stuttering form this season. On top of his 9 goals he hsa also added 4 assists and 42 dribbles, the most in the league. The only match that he has missed for Liverpool this season was the game they lost in stunning fashion to Burnley by a score of 2-0, proving how essential he has been to Jurgen Klopp’s side this year. Sadio Mane is one of the fastest and most capable footballers on the planet.
Thiago Alcantara is majestic in possession of the football and has the ability to control a game from central midfield like few others can. 2016 was by far his best ever year as a footballer as the Spanish midfielder finally avoided injury to make a sustain run in the Bayern Munich side and since Carlo Ancelotti has come in as manager one could argue that Thiago has been die Rotten’s very best player. The 25-year old has been in unreal form so far in 2016-17, dominating nearly all of the fifteen matches that he has played in with 95.9 passes per game, the most in the league by 10 passes per game. He has also completed 90.1% of his passes and scored and assisted 3 goals each in his time as a defensive midfielder in the side. Thiago Alcantara is a brilliant footballer and has now officially established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world.
Xabi Alonso continues to be one of Bayern Munich’s most key players despite being at the age of 35 now. The defensive midfielder assisted 2 goals in 25 Bundesliga matches with 2.1 tackles per game and 90.1 passes per game (the highest in the league) to help Bayern Munich walk away with the trophy. He was also excellent in Bayern’s Champions League fight as he scored a goal in 8 matches with 91.1 passes per game, created 17 chances and had 2.4 tackles per game to help the team just miss out at the final as they were knocked out at the hand of Atletico Madrid in a narrow semi final defeat. He has also started 2016-17 off brightly, still managing to hold down a place in the XI with 2 goals, 38 interceptions and 1048 passes in 13 Bundesliga matches. Somehow at the age of 35, Xabi Alonso is still one of the best footballers in the world.
Quite honestly, it is probably pretty harsh to put Douglas Costa this low on the list. He has had a brilliant year in 2016 and although his goal and assist tallies haven’t been as high as other wingers around the world he has still be an integral part to Bayern Munich’s magnificence. Costa was a favourite of Pep Guardiola and always one of the first names on his team sheets, featuring in 27/34 matches and scoring 4 goals with 9 assists in the 2015-16 Bundesliga season. However, this season under Carlo Ancelotti the Brazilian hasn’t managed to earn himself a sustained role in the side and in 10 matches this season has scored just 3 goals. Douglas Costa is one of the toughest players to play against but his goal and assist tallies just simply aren’t high enough to get him any higher than #66 on The Mastermind‘s end of year list.
Although he’s probably better suited to be a defensive midfielder, there is no denying that Javier Mascherano is a magnificent defender. The Argentinean international had another stellar 2015-16 season with Barcelona, helping lead them to La Liga glory and then helping his national side to a second Copa America final in a row, where they unfortunately succame to Chile for the second straight time. Mascherano was however named as one of the best players of that tournament, playing in 5 matches and making the best XI, for his fantastic performances in front of the back four. However, since Samuel Umtiti arrived at the Catalan club, Mascherano hasn’t exactly been a regular starter and even when he has started hasn’t looked like his usual self at times. The 32-year old has however still made 12 appearances in La Liga this season as Barcelona currently sit in second place behind leaders Real Madrid. Javier Mascherano is a fantastic defender, would probably make for a better defensive midfielder but is starting to show signs that his game might be on the decline.
Franck Ribery has actually played a lot more football in 2016 than many realize and still continues to put in stunning displays for Bayern Munich despite his career starting to begin it’s decline a few years ago. The 33-year old has been essential to Carlo Ancelotti’s side this season, scoring 2 goals with 5 assists in 10 matches so far. He has also managed to fantastically create 30 chances and complete 33 dribbles in those 10 matches. He was also fairly decent towards the tail end of the 2015-16 season for Pep Guardiola’s side, scoring 2 goals with 3 assists in the final thirteen matches of the season as he regained form again. His overall ability and what he’s done in previous years carries him into the number 64 slot but his form in many matches this season has proven that if he could just get a consistent run of form together than he could still be one of the world’s most dangerous players.
2016 was Jan Oblak’s year. The Slovenian goalkeeper used 2016 as a platform to establish himself as one of the world’s finest goalkeepers, helping Atletico Madrid along their way to the UEFA Champions League final. Jan Oblak wasn’t even Atletico Madrid’s starting goalkeeper in 2014-15 but in 2015-16 he became the most dominant goalkeeper in not only La Liga but the UEFA Champions League as well, putting up some fantastic displays against some of the world’s best teams and establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The Slovenian goalkeeper kept an astonishing 24 clean sheets in 38 league matches conceding just 0.47 goals per game. He also made 63 saves and 79 successful cross claims, 0 unsuccessful. Oblak also kept 8 clean sheets in 13 UEFA Champions League matches, conceding just 0.62 goals per game, the second best behind Keylor Navas in both categories and made 33 saves, more than any other goalkeeper in the competition. His 24 clean sheets in La Liga was 8 more than second place Claudio Bravo’s 16 and his 0.47 goals conceded per game was the best in the league by far as well. Oblak has also started 2016-17 off extroadinarily brightly, keeping 7 clean sheets in 15 matches, claiming 93% of the crosses that have come his way and conceding just 0.87 goals per game.
Despite his stunning performances for Napoli and Slovakia for years and years and years, Marek Hamsik still remains one of football’s most underrated players. Realistically, this man should be thought of as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world but unfortunately he rarely gets the credit he deserves. The 29-year old has been phenomenal for club and country in 2016 and has had one of his best ever years as a footballer. Hamsik ended the 2015-16 season with 6 goals and 11 assists as he featured in all 38 Serie A matches, captaining Napoli to a somewhat surprising second place finish. He then rocked Euro 2016 with Slovakia, scoring a goal and achieving another assist as he featured in all four of his country’s matches. But his form this season has been what has pushed Hamsik over the edge as he has arguably been Serie A’s standout midfielder with 5 goals and 6 assists in the short time span of just 17 matches. The pass master has also managed an 88.7% pass accuracy, 77.8 passes per game and 37 chances created this season in Serie A. Marek Hamsik is one of the world’s best midfielders and rarely gets the credit and recognition that he deserves.
Speaking of underrated footballers, apart from that brief failure at Chelsea FC, Filipe Luis has been one of the best defenders in world football for years now with Atletico Madrid and had his best year ever in 2016. Filipe Luis was the best left back in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16, showing Chelsea exactly why they should have never let him go. Luis scored a goal with 4 assists in 32 La Liga matches, making 3.9 tackles per game and 2.7 interceptions per game as Atletico finished in third. He was one of the club’s most integral Champions League matches as well, playing in 9 matches and making 4 tackles per game and 2.2 interceptions per game. He has also rocked 2016-17 so far albeit he has recently sustained a pretty nasty injury. Luis has made 13 La Liga appearances and 5 UEFA Champions League appearances, achieving 1 assist and making 3.3 tackles per game between the two competitions.If FIFPRO would open their eyes and stop basing their best XI’s off of the reputations of players like Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Manuel Neuer, Filipe Luis might actually have a shot at being named the best fullback in the world.
Toby Alderweireld was arguably the best defender in the Premier League in 2015-16. The Belgian international was excellent, helping Tottenham to keep 15 clean sheets and acting as their most integral defensive player in their charge to try and win the title. Going forward he was also excellent, scoring 4 goals with 2 assists as he featured in all 38 Premier League matches. He then played very well at Euro 2016, helping Belgium make the quarter finals with 1 goal in 5 matches. After making the PFA Team of the Year and having a good Euro 2016 campaign he was finally earning the recongition that he deserved as one of the best defenders in the world and just when he was hitting his best form again, the Belgian defender got injured, causing him to miss 7 matches so far already this season. Alderweireld has however been bright in the 10 Premier League matches that he has featured in and due to his fantastic reputation as one of the best defenders in the world should have no problem getting back into the Tottenham Hotspur side. Toby Alderweireld is a magnificent defender and has now established himself as possibly the very best defender in the Premier League.
Hugo Lloris was one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League in 2015-16 and has been ever since his arrival in 2012. The French goalkeeper conceded just 34 goals in 37 games, with 5 of those coming on the final day of the season. He also kept 13 clean sheets, made 68 saves and 69 successful cross claims. Without him Tottenham might not have been able to go on quite the fairy tale run that they did in 2015-16. Then at Euro 2016, Hugo Lloris was one of the best goalkeepers of the tournament, keeping 3 clean sheets in seven matches as France finished as runners-up. Finally in 2016, Lloris has kept up his good form, keeping 6 clean sheets and conceding just 11 goals in 15 matches. For all his fantastic performances in 2016, Hugo Lloris earned a Ballon d’Or nomination, his first ever as a footballer. 2016 was Hugo Lloris’ best year ever and quite frankly if he continues to play like this, Tottenham will have a very tough time at keeping hold of him.
Laurent Koscielny has arguably been the best defender in the Premier League this season. The 31-year old has featured in all but one match for the Gunners so far, scoring 2 goals and completing 45 interceptions in 16 matches. He was also magnificnet for France at Euro 2016 as he played in all 7 matches, nearly helping France win the tournament. And of course, Koscielny was also brilliant in 2015-16, scoring 4 goals in 33 Premier League matches, with 3.8 interceptions per game and 3.2 aerial duels won per game. Laurent Koscielny is a fantastic defender and now at the age of 31, has established himself as one of the best in the world.
After stunning the world in 2015, 2016 wasn’t exactly daisies and roses for Harry Kane. The British forward had a solid 2015-16 campaign with Spurs scoring a league-leading 25 goals in 38 matches to help Spurs challenge for the title in 2015-16. That 25 goal, golden boot performance earned him a spot on the PFA Team of the Year and a nomination for the Player of the Year Award, where he was voted as the third best player in the league. However, Harry Kane unfortunately suffered from tiredness at Euro 2016, which was understandable given everything he had done for his club in 2015-16 but he still went absolutely missing at the tournament and was a major reason why England weren’t able to fulfill their potential at the tournament. That poor form continued into the 2016-17 season where he really struggled to find goals in the first few months of the season. He has managed to bounce back with 8 goals in his last 9 matches for Spurs but unfortunately his form in 2015-16 wasn’t enough to carry him into the top 50 on this list.
Despite missing nearly 5 months of 2016 with injury, Ilkay Gundogan has still managed to secure an incredibly high place on this list due to his incredible performances in midfield for Germany, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. Ilkay Gundogan was not only one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga in 2015-16, but was also a key figure in Germany’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. The German midfielder dominated a handful of games for both club and country in 2015-16, climbing all the way back on to this list inside the top 55 and earning himself a massive move to Manchester City. The 25 year old midfielder made 25 apperances in 2015-16, scoring 1 goal and assisting 3 more to help Borussia Dortmund finish as Bundesliga runners up and in the process earning himself a selection for the Team of the Season. He also made the 4th most passes per game in the league with 80.9, and had the 14th highest passing percentage with 87.8%. The German midfielder has started life in his Manchester City career brightly with 3 goals and 1 assist in 10 Premier League matches and one absolutely stunning display against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League in which he led Guardiola’s side to victory with two goals! Unfortunately, Ilkay Gundogan just picked up another injury and is looking likely to spend the rest of the season out injured. However, that won’t stop him from coming back exactly where he left off and earning another spot on this list again in 2017. Ilkay Gundogan is just about the only player in the world who could make me like Manchester City and had a magnificent in 2016.
Marcelo proved to be one of Real Madrid’s best players in 2015-16 as they won the UEFA Champions League and finished second in La Liga. The Brazilain left back scored 2 goals and assisted 3 more in 30 league matches, while also making 2.5 tackles per game, securing 7 team of the week appearances and a spot on the Team of the Season. The 28-year old also assisted a goal in 11 UEFA Champions League matches as he earned himself a spot on the Squad of the Season and Real Madrid won the tournament. He was by far one of the best left backs in world football in 2015-16 and was so key in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory. He has also started off the 2016-17 season very well, scoring a goal and 2 assists in 12 La Liga matches. Marcelo is one of the best fulbacks in the world and lived up to that high expectation in 2016.
In 2016-17 Philippe Coutinho has been one of the best players in the Premier League. The Brazilian midfielder has been magnificent for Jurgen Klopp’s side so far, scoring 5 goals with 5 assists in just 13 matches so far. Liverpool have struggled to cope since the midfielder went out with injury and if they are going to have any chance of winning the league title are going to need to get him back soon. Coutinho was also very good in 2015-16, scoring 8 goals with 5 assists in 26 matches in the Premier League in 2015-16, and 2 goals with 2 assists in Liverpool’s fantastic UEFA Europa League campaign. One other almost hidden artifact of Coutinho’s year in 2016 was his magnificent form at the Copa America with Brazil, scoring 3 goals in 3 matches. Philippe Coutinho has been incredible this year for Liverpool and Brazil in 2016 and soon could be on his way to establishing himself as one of the very best midfielders in the world.
Despite a fantastic 2016 in which he won Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Liga, and Trophee de Champions with PSG and made it to the final of Euro 2016 with France, Blaise Matuidi has all of a sudden become extroadinarily underrated. The Frenchman ranked just 84 on The Guardian’s list and even lower, 98 on FourFourTwo’s. Matuidi was magnificent in 2015-16 scoring 4 goals with 6 assists from defensive midfield in 31 Ligue 1 matches. But this season under Unai Emery, Matuidi hasn’t started off particularly well, assisting just one goal without scoring a single one in 18 matches. The PSG man has however netted 2 goals with 1 assist in 6 Ligue 1 matches. Blaise Matuidi may not have had the best season ever in 2016 but was essential to both PSG and France as both his club and country achieved a tremendous amount of success.
Ever since moving to Paris Saint Germain in 2012, Thiago Silva has consistently been the best defender in Ligue 1 and nothing changed in 2015-16. The Brazilian defender was excellent for PSG once again as they won the treble for the second consecutive season. Silva scored 1 goal with 1 assist in 30 matches from centre back, captaining PSG to a league title and to a season in which they only lost 2 games in the league! Silva also completed 94.6% of his passes, the highest percentage in the league, made 80.6 passes per game, the 3rd highest in the league, and made 3.1 interceptions per game, the 15th most in the league. Silva has also been arguably the best defender in Ligue 1 in 2016-17, scoring 2 goals with 82.6 passes per game and a 93.7% pass accuracy in 14 matches so far this campaign. Thiago Silva hasn’t had a bad year his entire career and is one of the most consistent defenders in the world.
Arjen Robben has been very unfortunate to miss a lot of 2016 with injury but as always when he has played he has still been in full flow. This season for example, the Dutch midfielder may have only featured in 10 Bundesliga matches but has been incredible in all 10 matches scoring 5 goals with 3 assists! Robben also netted 2 goals with 1 assist in the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16 but unfortunately just hasn’t managed to put a consistent run of games together. However, the Dutch midfielder is still one of the world’s best players and his overall ability carries him over to the number 51 spot.
Marco Reus is one of Borussia Dortmund’s all time best players but just hasn’t managed to stay fit for a long enough spell in 2016. The German forward had an excellent season with Borussia Dortmund in 2015-16 and even though his stats aren’t as spectacular as his normal high standards, he still made the Bundesliga Team of the Season. Marco Reus scored 12 goals with 3 assists in 26 Bundesliga matches to help Dortmund finish in second place in the table. He also netted 5 goals with 2 assists in 10 Europa League matches as Dortmund were knocked out in the quarter finals and he scored 2 goals with 1 assist in 4 matches to help Dortmund finish again as runners up in the DFB Pokal. Unfortunately, just weeks before Euro 2016 began, Reus suffered a hamstring injury and Germany were dealt a massive blow. That injury kept him out for the large majority of the new season but since returning from injury he has been unstoppable. In his first match back from injury Marco Reus scored a hat-trick and grabbed an assist in Dortmund’s massive 8-4 win over Legia Warszawa in the UEFA Champions League. Then in his first start in the Bundesliga the former Monchengladbach man assisted three goals, smashing his old side to the ground in a 4-1 win. Since then he has popped up with crucial late goals against both Real Madrid and FC Cologne proving just how essential he is to Borussia Dortmund. Marco Reus just provides something different to Borussia Dortmund’s attack. The way he can glide past defenders and dance around them before slotting the perfect pass to a teammate is unlike any other player in the side, possibly even the Bundesliga and at the moment, Dortmund are looking absolutely unbeatable again. If he can just avoid injury, 2017 may be his year.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the best player in the German Bundesliga]n 2015-16 and it wasn’t even close. The Armenian midfielder scored or assisted in nearly every single one of Borussia Dortmund’s matches and was the liveliest player in every single game they played. He scored 11 goals with 15 assists in 31 Bundesliga games, leading the league in assists and leading Borussia Dortmund to a second place finish. He also created 84 chances, completed 81 dribbles and helped out in defense with 53 tackles during the league season to help earn him the Player of the Year Award in Germany. Mkhitaryan also scored 2 goals with 5 assists in the UEFA Europa League as Dortmund went out far too early and was the best player in the DFB Pokal, scoring 5 goals in 6 matches as Dortmund made it all the way to the final and lost on penalties. However, after moving to Manchester United he has had a bit of a slow start and as a result fallen sadly down ranks. The Manchester United midfielder did not score his first Premier League goal until a couple of weeks ago and sadly got injured in that match as he looks likely to lose his place in the side again. The first half of Mkhitaryan’s 2016 campaign was exceptional, but the latter half sadly just hasn’t been to the same standard.
To be perfectly honest, David Alaba has had his worst year as a professional footballer in 2016. Although he was always a regular in a Bayern Munich side that picked up both the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga title in 2016, he never made enough of an impact this year and while playing out of position at Euro 2016, was one of the worst players of the entire tournament.Alaba has been pretty decent so far in Carlo Ancelotti’s side assisting 5 goals so far this campaign in 20 matches between UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga but his form for Guardiola at the tail end of the 2015-16 season and incredibly poor spell for Austria at Euro 2016 has seen him fall really far down the ranks.
Andres Iniesta had a fantastic campaign with Spain at Euro 2016 and was just about the only player in the entire side to play to their full potential at the tournament. However, that is just about the only thing that he has done that is particularly spectacular in 2016. Iniesta has started of the 2016-17 campaign brightly, assisting three goals in 8 matches so far this season while missing nearly half of the first half of the season with injury. But in 2015-16, Iniesta was honestly pretty dredful, assisting just 2 goals and scoring just once in 28 matches. His numbers were also down from previous seasons in all areas of the game from passes per game to pass accuracy to chances created to defensive actions. Andres Iniesta has been decent in 2016 but few recognize how much this Spanish midfielder has declined in recent years and to say that he is still one of the twenty best footballers on the planet is a bit ridiculous.
Edinson Cavani is often unfairly and harshly judged and recently has become an incredibly underrated player. The Uruguayan forward is one of the best goal scorers on the planet and although he may be considered to be something of a big fish playing in a relatively small pond, scoring more goals than anyone else in Europe’s top 5 leagues so far this season is still an incredible achievement. Cavani has netted 18 goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches so far and a stunning 6 goals in 6 UEFA Champions League matches so far, more goals than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. He has also been incredible for his country in 2016, bagging 9 goals in 11 matches over the course of the year while his total tally of 30 goals + assists in 2016 for PSG in league play is the 6th highest in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Edinson Cavani is one of the best goal scorers on the planet and now that he is finally being given his chance to play in the number 9 role and be PSG’s main man is showing his true stuff again.
Whether it’s been for Roma, Juventus or his national side Boznia & Herzegovina, Miralem Pjanic has always been a star man for his side in 2016. The 26-year old midfielder has consistently been one of the best midfielders in Europe for quite some time now and may just have had his best ever year as a footballer. Pjanic has started off this season wonderfully well, scoring 5 goals with 4 assists in 13 matches in a Juve side that still sit top of the table. He has also netted a goal with 2 assists in 6 UEFA Champions League matches so far, contributing to Juventus’ 1st place finish in Group H. The midfielder has also been incredibly lively for his national team so far during the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 2 goals in 3 matches. Meanwhile, we can’t forget to mention how stellar of a 2015-16 campaign he had with AS Roma, scoring 10 goals with 12 assists in 33 Serie A matches. Miralem Pjanic is one of the best midfielders in the world and perhaps because he comes from such a small country is quite honestly, a little underrated.
For three years now, Koke has been Atletico Madrid’s key man in midfield. An incredibly versatile player capable of playing anywhere in midfield, Koke has been integral to everything that Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone have accomplished in 2016. Despite having a better 2015-16 campaign than any other Spanish player, Koke couldn’t break into del Bosque’s Euro 2016 starting 11 and as a result couldn’t help them do any better than the Round of 16. But, everything that he has managed to accomplish with Atletico Madrid in 2016 has been fantastic including helping lead them to a UEFA Champions League final and assisting more goals than any other midfielder in La Liga with 14 in 2015-16. Still at the age of just 24, Koke will almost certainly soon be one of Europe’s most complete players.
Pepe wasn’t always a regular under Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid but since Zinedine Zidane has come in as manager, the Portuguese defender has played some of his best matches of his entire career and has re-claimed his place in the starting 11. On top of being instrumental to Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League win with 9 appearances, Pepe was the best defender at Euro 2016 as he helped lead Porgual all the way to the final where they weer able to go on and win the tournament. Due to being a gold medallist of both of 2016’s major competitions, Pepe has earned several accolades and praise including a Ballon d’Or top 30 nomination and a ranking inside the top 40 on the Guardian’s version of this list. Although Pepe will soon be eased out of Real Madrid’s team by France’s fantastic defener Raphael Varane, 2016 was certainly a year to remember for the 33-year old and demonstrates that he still has plenty of ability in him.
Eden Hazard did not have a particularly fantastic start to the year but has been unbeliavable so far for Antonio Conte in 2016-17. Hazard didn’t even score in the Premier League in 2016 until April and his best moment of the 2015-16 season came when he scored a goal that helped another team win the Premier League title. However, under Conte Hazard has been back to what we expect of him and has been scoring goals for fun while showing off his trickery and incredible ball control like never before. Already this season Hazard has scored 9 goals with 1 assist in 17 matches and has completed more take on’s than any other player with 83! His resurgence of form has been instrumental in Chelsea’s resurgence of form and at the moment he is on his way to leading Chelsea to the 2016-17 Premier League title. Despite a slow start to the year, Eden Hazard is still one of the best footballers on the planet and is very unlucky to sit so low on a list of the 100 best players in the world.
Giorgio Chiellini has had another fantastic year. The Italian defender was brilliant for both club and country and continues to solidify his reputation as one of Serie A’s best ever defenders. Chiellini was magnificent in helping Juventus win the 2015-16 Serie A title for 5th straight time and then with a goal in 4 matches was one of the best defenders at Euro 2016 despite Italy only reaching the quarter finals. The Juve man has also started off 2016-17 very brightly, continuing to be one of the best defenders in both the Serie A and UEFA Champions League as Juventus are prospering in both competitions. Chiellini has also scored more goals this season so far with 5 in all competitions than in his previous four seasons.
Ivan Rakitic has earned a reputation as one of the best midfielders in the world in the past few years and although 2016 wasn’t his best year ever he was still on top of his game. Rakitic had a very good Euro 2016 campaign with Croatia although the side in Red & White only made it to the quarter finals but he hasn’t been good in the UEFA Champions League for Barcelona in either season. But although he hasn’t been particularly stellar in the UEFA Champions League in 2016 he has been good in La Liga, finishing up the 2015-16 season with a total tally of 7 goals and 2 assists while also netting 2 goals with 1 assist so far in 2016-17. His contribution to Barcelona since arriving has been huge and Rakitic is very likely to be Barcelona’s new Andres Iniesta for years to come.
Sergio Busquets has always been incredibly important to FC Barcelona but with the Catalan club trailing behind Real Madrid in so many different areas in 2016 and Spain failing at the Euros, there would be many that would suggest the defensive midfielder is no longer as important as he maybe once was for club and country. Busquets might have had one of his best ever seasons as a footballer in 2015-16 but the calendar year hasn’t been the best from the Spaniard and his numbers from tackles to pass percentage to total passes to goals and assists are all down so far in 2016-17. However at the age of 28, Sergio Busquets is nowhere near done and could very well regain his form fantastically next year.
It took a few years but De Gea has finally and deservedly ousted Iker Casillas as Spain’s first choice goalkeeper. Fantastic throughout 2015-16 in earning another PFA Team of the Year selection and leading Manchester United to an FA Cup trophy, David De Gea continued his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world in 2016. The 2016-17 season hasn’t been his best and has actually probably been his worst since his first season at Old Trafford, but he has well-and-truly come good again in the past few months and is looking ready to regain top form again.
After years of being blamed for nearly all of Barcelona’s defensive errors, 2016 has been a lot more solid for Gerard Pique. Some now are even calling him one of the best defenders La Liga has ever had. Pique was one of few shining stars in Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign and was also instrumental in Barcelona’s 2015-16 La Liga title. Pique’s started off 2016-17 very well and has continued to be a bright spot in a Barcelona side that some may argue are currently underperforming, scoring 3 goals in 16 all competitions so far. It wasn’t his best year and it wasn’t his worst but Pique has now certainly established himself as one of Barcelona and La Liga’s best ever defenders.
I’ve always thought of Jerome Boateng to be a little bit overrated but the 2016 version of the German defender was the most calm and composed we’ve ever seen with him putting in several stunning displays for club and country. Boateng was particularly fantastic at Euro 2016 and was one of Germany’s best players as they made it to the semi-finals. He was also really good in Pep Guardiola’s final few months as manager leading the charge towards the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles. But his form in 2016-17 hasn’t been great and injuries have also played their part in keeping him out of Carlo Ancelotti’s side for the most part so far. Boateng does still have the ability to be one of the best defenders in the world though and up until August was having perhaps his best ever year as a footballer.
Diego Costa might not have had the best of starts to 2016, but since Antonio Conte has come in as manager the Brazilian-born forward has been one of the world’s best players again. So far in 2016-17, Diego Costa has been in the best form of his entire career, scoring 13 goals with 5 assists in 17 Premier League matches! The 28-year old forward has been Antonio Conte’s key man so far this season as Chelsea have now gone a stunning 12 games unbeaten in the league. His discipline has also been incredibly controlled, receiving just 5 yellow cards and committing less than a foul per game compared to being fouled himself 46 times. On top of his fantastic form so far in 2016-17, his form at the end of 2015-16 wasn’t all that bad either, scoring 7 goals with 5 assists in league play from January to May. Moreover, despite wrongly missing out on Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign, the Spanish forward still managed to score 3 goals in 4 appearances for his national team in 2016. Diego Costa is one of the best centre forwards on the planet and although 2016 may not have been his best year ever, the form that he has been in the past few months certainly has been outstanding.
Likened to Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala has established himself as one of the world’s best players in 2016. A shining star for Juventus and easily their best attack-minded player, Paulo Dybala was brilliant this year and has had a hand in too many goals to count. The 23-year old finished the 2015-16 with a tally of 19 goals and 9 assists so far and has been plagued by injuries so far in 2016-17, managing just 3 goals with 2 assists in 10 matches so far. Still an absolutely brilliant player though and was absolutely incredible in those final few months leading up to Juve’s Serie A title this year.
David Silva has always had tremendous quality and 2016 he showed it off in spades. Although the Manchester City midfielder was one of many to not show their true talent for Spain at Euro 2016, he has had a very good campaign for the Citizens. Silva finished off the 2015-16 campaign with 2 goals and 11 assists in 24 matches and although his numbers are down he has started off the 2016-17 campaign brightly as well with a goal and 3 assists in 15 Premier League matches. However, with Silva it’s more about his fantastic overall play as even when he isn’t scoring or setting up goals he is always effecting matches.
Karim Benzema was always surrounded by controversy in 2016, particularly for what was going on off-the-field, but his on-the-field performances were incredible again in 2016. Benzema has almost gone underrated this year and was wrongly ranked 50th place on the Guardian’s list. The standout statistic of Benzema’s 2016 campaign has been his form in the UEFA Champions League, scoring 4 goals in 6 matches so far and helping Real Madrid lift the trophy in 2015-16 with 4 goals in 9 appearances. He also found the back of the net 24 times with 7 assists in just 27 La Liga appearances in 2015-16 but hasn’t started off 2016-17 particularly brightly scoring less than understudy Alvaro Morata, just 4 times in 11 La Liga matches. Benzema is still one of the best forwards on the planet and his ability to keep a striker as awesome as Morata out of the side is commendable.
Philipp Lahm is still one of the best footballers in the world, but since retiring from international football after Germany won the 2014 World Cup, his career has started to slow down a little. Philipp Lahm has been referred to by Pep Guardiola as the most intelligent footballer in the world and showed his intelligence on the football pitch to great effect in 2015-16. The German defender scored 1 goal with 1 assist in 26 Bundesliga matches, completing 90.8% of his passes, making 76.5 passes per game and creating 49 chances. The Bayern Munich captain also featured in 6 DFB Pokal matches as Bayern lifted the trophy and all 12 of Bayern Munich’s UEFA Champions League matches as they made it to the semi finals. Lahm might not have had the best of times in 2015-16 but has kicked off 2016-17 incredibly brightly, scoring a goal with an assist and the 6th most passes per game (75.6) in 10 Bundesliga matches so far. Although Lahm hasn’t been the best right back in the Bundesliga for about the past two seasons, he still has the overall ability to be one of the best footballers in the world and continues to be a pivotal player for Bayern Munchen.
Mats Hummels has consistently been the best defender in the German Bundesliga for the past six years and he continued that trend fantastically well in 2016. Mats Hummels is a complete defender. He is so confident on the ball, is one of the best passers in the world, hardly ever mistimes a tackle, has better defensive awareness than any other defender in the world and always chips in with a few goals as well. Hummels finished off his career at Borussia Dortmund excellently well with the club, captaining them to a second place finish as he scored 2 goals and assisted 2 goals, won 117 duels in the air, made 78.9 passes per game in 30 Bundesliga matches. He also led Borussia Dortmund to another cup final loss to Bayern Munich and a quarter final finish in the UEFA Europa League. He then rocked Euro 2016 and has started off his career at Bayern Munich incredibly well. Hummels has scored 1 goal with 1 assist in 13 matches so far while also winning 4.3 duels in the air per game. He has made more team of the week appearances than any other defender in 2016 and despite his awesome performances for Bayern, Dortmund and his national side Germany still remains criminally underrated.
Few players have picked up as many trophies as Arturo Vidal has in 2016. The Chilean midfielder has been integral to Bayern Munich as they lifted the Bundesliga title and DFB Pokal and was one of the best players at Copa America as Chile won the tournament for the second successive year. The tough-tackling midfielder was phenomenal in 2015-16 with 4 goals and 5 assists from defensive midfield in 30 Bundesliga appearances but has had an incredibly slow start so far in 2016-17 with just 1 goal and no standout statistic in 14 Bundesliga appearances so far. Still though his form in the first half of the season was magnificent and he was integral to helping his club and country pick up trophies.
Whenever Real Madrid achieve success, Sergio Ramos is always at the heart of it and 2016 was no different. The Spanish defender was one of the best players of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League and even became the first ever defender to score in two different Champions League finals when he netted Real’s only goal against Atletico Madrid to help take the game into penalty kicks where Los Blancos were able to go on and win the game. Ramos has also enjoyed his best ever scoring season so far this season, netting 4 goals in 9 matches, the same total as Karim Benzema. It isn’t just the goals that is impressive from Sergio Ramos though, he is fantastic in all areas of the pitch from back to front and is a fantastic leader at the back for the La Liga leaders.
One of the best players of the 2015-16 season with 10 goals and 18 assists in 29 Ligue 1 matches but hasn’t managed to maintain that kind of form into the 2016-17 season as PSG have slumped down to third. Angel di Maria is one of many players on this list to have a brilliant first half of the season and then begin to fall off the pace towards the second half. Di Maria was key to Argentina at the Copa America as they made it to the final and was also pivotal to PSG’s Ligue 1 and French cup success in 2016, but a goal and 5 assists in 15 matches so far isn’t quite up to par with his incredible standards. Nonetheless, his form from the first half of the year in helping his nation to a major tournament final and leading PSG to the league title and three domestic cups is enough to carry him into the number 27 slot.
Still the best goalkeeper in the world by overall ability but hasn’t necessarily been the best goalkeeper of 2016. Although he’s a shoein for the World XI and picked up the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award in 2016 for the fourth straight year, it hasn’t exactly been all roses and dasies for Manuel Neuer this year. A lot of the goalkeeper’s standout statistics actually arise out of Bayern’s stern defense and when called upon the German goalkeeper hasn’t always achieved the high standards that he set for himself in previous years. Particularly at Euro 2016 the Bayern Munich man just didn’t look his normal self and let in goals that he would have never let in that year that he was named the 3rd best footballers in the world by Ballon d’Or. Neuer has however conceded just 0.56 goals so far this season, has kept 8 clean sheets in 16 matches and has made 3.22 saves per goal conceded, the best record in the Bundesliga in all categories. Manuel Neuer is still without a doubt the best goalkeeper in the world but perhaps the IFFHS has based their 2016 award on reputation more than actual form.
Anyone who says that Paul Pogba hasn’t been on fire in 2016 is utterly wrong. The 23-year old midfielder, that’s right he’s still only 23, has been a limewire for every team he’s played for in 2016 and despite receiving a fairly heavy amount of criticism has been magnificent to start his life at Old Trafford. The Frenchman finished off the 2015-16 campaign in stylish fashion, helping Juve win the Serie A title and add plenty of goals and assists to his total tally for the season of 8 goals and 12 assists in 36 matches. Pogba was then very important to France at Euro 2016 and after becoming the most expensive footballer in the world with his big moeny summer move to Manchester United has been in fine form in his return to the Premier League. Pogba may have only scored 5 goals with 4 assists between the Europa League and Premier League so far this season but he has been a dominating force in every single match Manchester United have played in and has shown a tremendous amount of quality in both defense and attack in helping lead his side to several victories. Paul Pogba is and always will be one of the best midfielders on the planet and although many thought he’d be winning Ballon d’Or’s and Player’s of the Year’s by now, he has not regressed one bit in 2016 and has been at the very least one of the top 30 footballers on the planet.
30 goals in 30 league matches in 2016. It has been a truly incredible year for Gonzalo Higauin and has been perhaps the first calendar year of his career that he has finally got the recognition that he deserves and has finally become thought of as one of the best strikers on the planet. For both Napoli and Juventus this year, Higuain has been stellar and his total tally of 36 goals in 35 matches in 2015-16 set a Serie A record. The Argentinean has started this season off in fine form as well, albeit not scoring at quite the same scarily high rate, just 10 goals in 15 matches, a mean feat for any other Serie A striker. He has also found the back of the net three times in five matches so far in the UEFA Champions League as Juve topped Group H and has been in fine form for Argentina as well grabbing 6 goals in 13 matches in all competitions for his national side.
Vardy was instrumental to Leicester City’s stunning 2015-16 title win, scoring 24 goals with 6 assists in 36 Premier League matches. Along the way he broke a record for scoring in consective matches and played so well that he earned himself the Writers’ Player of the Year award and dethroned Eden Hazard as the Barclays Premier League Player of the Season. He’s also been good for England when given his chance, scoring 5 times in 10 matches for his national side. But his form in 2016-17 like many Leicester players has been nowhere near as good as last season and the British striker has netted just 5 goals in 17 matches so far this season while simultaneously failing to score in the UEFA Champions League. But still despite his shortcomings so far in 2016-17 it has been an unbeliavable year for Jamie Vardy and he definitely deserves his place high up on this list.
There’s no denying that Thomas Muller is a wonderful footballer; 2016 just hasn’t been his year. After failing to score at Euro 2016, Muller has dropped down on Top 100 lists around the world with few recognizing that he is still the same fantastic talent that he has always been. Muller finished off the 2015-16 campaign with 20 goals and 5 assists in 31 Bundesliga matches and has already equalled his assist tallies of last season this season with a goal and 5 assists in 13 Bundesliga matches so far. Muller has also netted twice in 6 UEFA Champions League matches in 2016-17. Although Thomas Muller’s goal tallies have been significantly lower this season, he is still one of the best footballers on the planet and deserves to be as high up on this list as he is.
Leonardo Bonucci was better than any other defender in 2016 and although he is lower than just one other defender on this list, it should be noted that the Italian has had his best ever year and has now established himself as one of the world’s toughest and best defenders. Bonucci rocked Euro 2016 with Italy as Antonio Conte’s side were unlucky to face elimiantion at the hands of Germany in the quarter finals.He was also Juventus’ key man as they picked up the Serie A title and despite having to look after a son with a terrible life-threatening illness has continued to be one of the league’s best defenders in 2016-17. It is a bit unfair but Bonucci will almost certainly miss out to Ramos and or Pique in FIFPRO’s 2016 World XI despite being far better than the both of them.
After several stunning performances at Euro 2016 for Italy, Gianluigi Buffon proved to everyone that even at the age of 38 he’s still got it and is still one of the world’s best players. Buffon conceded just 0.49 goals per game in Serie A last season as Juve comfortably lifted the trophy and then was brilliant in Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign, leading them to the quarter finals with 3 clean sheets in 4 matches and conceding an incredibly low 0.25 goals per game the entire tournament. Buffon has carried over his magnificent form from Euro 2016 over to the 2016-17 season, keeping 3 clean sheets with 0.4 goals conceded per game in 5 UEFA Champions League matches as the Italian giants topped Group H. At the age of 38, Gianluigi is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world and for the first time ever is the highest ranked goalkeeper on a Mastermind Top 100.
In 2016, Diego Godin led Atletico Madrid to their second UEFA Champions League final in three years and was arguably the best player of the tournament. Although Atletico couldn’t pull out the win and lost in the worst way to lose a football a match, on penalty kicks, Godin’s performances received worldwide recognition once again and solidified his place as the best defender of 2016. In addition to his incredible form in the Champions League, Godin also earned himself his first major individual honour when he picked up the LFP’s award for Best Defender of La Liga in 2015-16, beating out the likes of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos. After being snubbed for the FIFPRO World XI in 2015 for no good reason at all, Godin surely can’t be overlooked this time.
Even at the age of 35, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still one of the best strikers in the world. The Swedish striker has been in formidable form in 2016 and has found the back of the net in league play more times in 2016 than any other player not named Messi, Ronaldo or Suarez. Ibra was obviously absolutely incredible in the 2015-16 campaign for PSG, breaking all kinds of records including most goals ever scored in a Ligue 1 season, 38 in 31 matches as the French giants won four trophies. But what is perhaps even more impressive is that in what many people consider to be the best league in the world, Ibrahimovic has continued to score and assist a multitude of goals, 14 goals + assists in just 17 matches so far this term. He has also netted two goals with an assist in 5 UEFA Europa League appearances, adding on to his five goals and three assists for PSG in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League. The only part of 2016 that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will want to forget about sooner rather than later was his poor form at Euro 2016, failing to find the back of the net in any of Sweden’s 3 matches. Apart from that though it was another incredible year for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Swedish striker continues to live up to the incredibly high egotistical standards he sets for himslef and continues to defy expectations with amazing performances for Manchester United week in and week out.
Dimitri Payet was not only one of the star men of the 2015-16 Premier League season as West Ham finished a surprising 7th place but was arguably the best player at Euro 2016, assisting two goals and scoring three as France made it all the way to the final. His stellar form at Euro 2016 quickly earned him a reputation as one of the best midfielders on the planet and if he could have just performed some form of magic in the final we might be talking about Payet as one of the ten best players in the world this year. The Frenchman has suffered from tiredness since returning from the summer tournament but has still managed to find top form on several occassions, scoring 2 goals with 6 assists in 16 Premier League matches so far. And we can’t forget to mention his 9 goals and 12 assists in the 2015-16 season which helped earn him a place on the PFA Team of the Year and to the Hammers, a 7th place finish in the table. Dimitri Payet was one of the best midfielders in the world in 2016 and if he could perform to the incredibly high level that he showed at the Euros every single week he would be in the same conversation as the Griezmann’s, Bale’s and Lewandowski’s of this world, the players who sit just below that top tier of world beaters.
Often overly criticized for fading out of big matches, Mesut Ozil more often than not does not get the credit he deserves. Despite tying the all-time Premier League record for assists in a single season with 19 in 2015-16, Mesut Ozil received nowhere near the attention he deserved. Instead, it was players like Dele Alli who were grabbing all the headlines. Mesut Ozil was brilliant in 2015-16, scoring 6 goals with 19 assists and creating 147 chances, the most in the league as Arsenal finished second in the table. Okay, he wasn’t fantastic at Euro 2016 with just 1 goal and 1 assist in 6 matches but he has again been incredible for Arsenal in the 2016-17 season scoring 4 goals with 3 assists in 6 UEFA Champions League matches and 5 goals with 3 assists in 17 Premier League matches. He may not be the most consistent footballer in the world but Mesut Ozil assists goals like few other footballers in the world can and in an overly-harsh and critical world the Arsenal man hardly ever gets the credit that he deserves.
LFP Midfielder of the Year for 2015-16 Luka Modric has had another incredible year in 2016 and earns himself a 15th place spot on The Mastermind Top 100. Modric completely deserved the crown as LFP Midfielder of the Year for his fantastic performances in La Liga last season, dominating every game with 2 goals and 4 assists in 32 matches and the help of midfield maestro Toni Kroos. After an incredibly successful 2015-16 campaign in which he helped Madrid win the Champions League and finish second in La Liga, the midfielder found himself in fantastic form at the European Championships, scoring a goal and making an impressive 11 interceptions in 3 matches as he did more than enough to help Croatia top their group ahead of Spain. Modric has even carreid his fantastic form in 2015-16 despite his injury proneness slowing him down slightly and has scored a goal with an assist in 8 La Liga matches so far. He may not be the greatest scorer or assister of goals the world has ever seen but Lika Modric is one of the most complete midfielders in the world and had an incredibly successful year for both club and country in 2016.
Sergio Aguero always knows where the back of the net is. Ever since arriving at Manchester City in 2011, he has been one of the Premier League’s deadliest goal scorers. Even despite spending over two months out injured in 2015-16, Aguero still managed to end the season as the joint-second highest scorer in the league, with 24 goals, only 1 less than Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. The Argentinean striker may have come up really short with just 1 goal in 10 appearances for Argentina this year but his form in the Premier League has been unbelievable. On top of his 24 goals of last season, Aguero has started off 2016-17 in fantastic form with 10 goals in 12 Premier League matches so far this season and 3 goals in 5 UEFA Champions League matches. Sergio Aguero is one of the deadliest goal scorers and one of the best forwards on the planet. He never stops scoring goals and by the time he retires, he could have racked up enough goals to be one of the Premier League’s all-time greatest strikers.
Riyad Mahrez wasn’t even a name you knew two years ago and now he is the 13th best footballer in the world for the year of 2016. Mr. Mahrez has been incredible this year for Leicester City and Algeria and apart from his slow start to the 2016-17 Premier League season has been on top of his game in every competition he’s played in. Mahrez led Leicester to the Premier League title in 2015-16 with 17 goals and 11 assists in 37 matches on his way to winning the PFA Premier League Players’ Player of the Year award. For his fantastic displays he also picked up the BBC African Footballer of the Year award and the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award. Although Mahrez has not been brilliant at all in 2016-17 and has at times looked like he’s just waiting for a big club to come in with a big money move, he has lived up to his reputation in the UEFA Champions League scoring 4 goals in 5 matches as Leicester manged to top their group. Riyad Mahrez will probably never ever be ranked this high on anything ever again and the way he’s going might not even make the list in 2017 but 2016 was certainly a year to celebrate for the Algerian and one that he and everyone involved with Leicester City will remember for a very long time.
Kevin de Bruyne might be the best set-piece deliverer on the planet and his ability on the ball goes so far beyond just that. The Belgian midfielder was unfortunate to miss the first few months of the year with injury but didn’t take long at all to get back into the swing of things helping City finish in a respectable fourth with the Belgian finishing the season with 7 goals and 9 assists in 25 matches. He has already equalled that fantastic tally of 9 assists in 2016-17 in just 17 matches, the league’s highest tally and has also been brilliant in the UEFA Champions League with a goal and an assist in 4 matches. On top of that his form at the Euros for Belgium was incredible and he was easily one of the tournament’s standout players despite not receiving as much recognition for his displays as other players. Despite Marc Wilmots’ side crashing out in the quarter finals, De Bruyne finished the tournament with 3 assists in 5 matches and the most chances created of any player with 23! Kevin de Bruyne is probably the best midfield playmaker on the planet and at the moment may be on his way to equally Mesut Ozil’s Premier League assist record that was set last year.
Very few players were in better form in 2016-17 than Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonian superstar has been outstanding this year and has scored a stunning 23 goals with 2 assists in 26 league matches. He may have missed out on the 2015-16 Golden Boot to Robert Lewandowski, scoring 25 to the Pole’s 30 in the Bundesliga, but he is in perfect position to win the award this year, netting 16 goals in 15 league matches so far this term. Only Edinson Cavani has scored more goals in league play in 2016-17 than the speedster and 4 goals in 5 UEFA Champions League matches so far is not bad by any stretch of the imagination either. Aubameyang is an absolutely incredible striker and his goal-getting abilities have really come as a surprise to Dortmund fans as he only moved to centre forward from left wing just last season after netting just 13 goals in his first campaign with the Black and Yellows. Now after an incredible season and a half, Aubameyang has established himself as one of the best strikers and goal scorers in world football.
An integral component to Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph in 2015-16 and Germany’s star player at Euro 2016, Toni Kroos has had another wonderful year. Kroos was key to Germany’s semi-final finish at the Euros, dominating the midfield with 107 passes per game and 16 chances created in 6 matches. He was similarly instrumental in Madrid’s Champions League triumph and was again their key man in midfield as they narrowly missed out on the 2015-16 title and Kroos finished the season with a goal and 10 assists in 32 matches. His best form of all though has come so far this season as he has been incredible in Los Blancos’ rise to the top as they currently sit in first place by 3 points. So far this season in La Liga, Kroos has made 12 appearances and has still managed to assist seven goals, an incredible feat. Toni Kroos is just so talented and can dominate football matches like few others can. Now after an incredible year the 26-year old German truly has now solidfied his name as one of the best central midfielders to play the game and is The Mastermind‘s second best midfielder of 2016.
Arsenal may not have achieved any major success at all in 2016 but their star man Alexis Sanchez might have just had his best year as a professional footballer. Sanchez has been incredible for both club and country this year, scoring a phenomenal 19 goals with 9 assists in league play alone during the calendar year and leading Chile to their second Copa America title in two years. 2016 has also seen Sanchez prosper in large part due to a positional change from right wing to centre forward, contributing to him playing some of his best ever matches as a footballer this year. He was the standout player of Copa America as Chile won the tournament and he picked up the Golden Ball, was Arsenal’s key man throughout the year and has started off the 2016-17 in wonderful form, scoring 12 goals with 6 assists in just 18 matches so far this term. Alexis Sanchez just had his best ever year as a professional footballer and for the first time ever, makes the top 10 on a Mastermind Top 100 list.
N’Golo Kante was arguably Leicester City’s most important player in their shocking 2015-16 Barclays Premier League title win. The French defensive midfielder was everywhere every single game for the Foxes, running around like a gazelle, assisting 4 goals and making more tackles (174) and more interceptions (156) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues. After an incredible season that saw him be named to the PFA Team of the Year, earn a nomination for PFA Player of the Year and make the top 60 on The Mastermind Top 100 for 2015-16, Kante then continued his good form into Euro 2016 as France made it all the way to the finals. But unlike nearly all of his Leicester City teammates, he has kept up his amazing form so far this season (2016-17) after his big money move to Chelsea, continuing to lead his side to glory under the new Antonio Conte regime. N’Golo Kante did win the biggest prize of all this year with Leicester’s fantastic Premier League title winning campaign, but after missing out on the PFA Player of the Year and a gold medal at Euro 2016, he’ll be eager to add a Mastermind award soon his trophy cabinet soon. For now, the eighth best footballer in the world for 2016 is something to be severely proud of.
He still hasn’t won a league title with Real Madrid but Gareth Bale has had an exceptional 2016. This year Bale has been one of Madrid’s leading men as they picked up the UEFA Champions League and Club World Cup. He was also a standout star at the European Championships in the summer, leading Wales to the semi-finals with 3 goals in 6 matches. In total for his country this year, Bale scored 7 goals in 11 matches as they sit in a good position to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He has also been magnificent for Madrid, scoring 5 goals with 2 assists in 11 matches so far this season on top of his stellar 19 goals and 10 assists in just 23 matches last season. Gareth Bale is one of the best footballers on the planet and had an asolutely incredible campaign in 2016.
Nobody has scored more goals in the German Bundesliga this year than Robert Lewandowski and few around the world have scored more goals in all competitions than the Polish striker has this year. Lewandowski always knows where the back of the net and exhibited that fact to a tee this year with 30 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches in 2015-16, 9 goals in 11 UEFA Champions League matches in 2015-16, 11 goals in 14 league matches so far in 2016-17 and 5 goals in 6 UEFA Champions League matches so far this season as well. Although the striker failed to find the net on a regular basis at the European Championships in the summer he has still managed to carry his positive influence on the field over to Poland with 8 goals in 12 appearances for his national team so far this year. Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers on the planet, is the main leading force to Bayern Munich’s success and definitely deserves his rightful place at number six on this list.
Nobody in the entire world scored more goals in 2016 than Luis Suarez. With 59 goals in 53 matches in 2015-16 and 11 goals in 16 matches so far this campaign in all competitions it has truly been an incredible year for this South American sensation. Suarez netted 40 times in 35 La Liga appearances last season to lead Barcelona’s title charge and find the back of the net more times than anyone else, nearly double by the way than that of LFP Player of the Year Antoine Griezmann. Often overlooked for not being named Ronaldo or Messi and for his crazy on-the-field antics, Luis Suarez often doesn’t get the recognition he deserves his overall play and ability to find the back of the net. But nobody should be overlooking him this time around, Suarez has had a brilliant time in 2016, one of the best in his career and should not be ashamed at all that he is lower than his two Barcelona compatriots, Neymar and Messi who have had equally stellar campaigns.
What if I told you that Neymar is still only 24? It seems like the Brazilian forward has been around forever and in actual fact, he basically has, starting his career with Santos FC at just 16 years of age. But ever since his move to Barcelona in 2013 Neymar’s career has really taken off and the Brazilian had another phenomel year. The 24-year old was instrumental to Barcelona’s 2015-16 title win, scoring 24 goals with 12 assists in 34 La Liga matches and has also been brilliant so far this season with 4 goals and 4 assists in 10 La Liga matches in 2016-17 and 2 goals with 6 assists in just 4 UEFA Champions Leauge matches so far, more assists than any other player. He’s also been wonderful for his national team Brazil in 2016 despite being stripped of the captain’s armband, scoring 4 goals in 6 appearances and leading them to a Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics. Neymar is a brilliant forward and although he often gets overshadowed by the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, he had an incredible year in 2016 and definitely deserves to be thought of as one of the best footballers not only of 2016 but of his time.
Antoine Griezmann was possibly the player of the 2015-16 season in the world of football. He led Atletico Madrid to a third place finish in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League final, and was France’s best player at Euro 2016 leading his nation all the way to the final as well. Along the way he took honour such as Euro 2016’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot as well as the LFP La Liga Player of the Year award. It must have been so hard for Antoine Griezmann to be a losing finalist in both of his big tournaments in 2015-16 but he should still walk away with his held high after having a remarkable campaign. The French forward scored 22 goals with 5 assists in 38 La Liga matches to finish as the league’s sixth highest scorer, only behind Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Neymar and Benzema. He also scored 3 goals in 3 Copa del Rey matches and was the best player at Euro 2016, stunning fans around the world with 6 goals in 7 matches to lead France to the final. His form in the UEFA Champions League was the brightest spot of all in his 2015-16 season as he scored 7 goals with 1 assist and played remarkably well in 13 matches, again leading his team all the way to the final. And to continue the trend, the French forward has also started the 2016-17 campaign in fine form with 6 goals and 4 assists in 14 La Liga appearances. Antoine Griezmann is one of the best players in the world at the moment and being at the age of only 25 when Ronaldo and Messi retire this may be the man that stands out above the rest.
Widely regarded as the best footballer of his time, Lionel Messi had another incredible year in 2016. The Argentine forward scored 26 goals with a stunning 16 assists in just 33 La Liga matches in 2015-16 with FC Barcelona as they won the title and has followed that up with 11 goals and 3 assists in just 12 matches so far in 2016-17. He was also amazing once again for Argentina a the Copa America and although he ultimately failed to lead his side to victory again, he scored the second most amount of goals at the tournament and achieved the most amount of assists with 4. Lionel Messi is not only the best footballer in the world but is possibly the best footballer ever. But did he have a better 2016 than anyone else? With the brilliance of Griezmann and Ronaldo in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League and at this year’s summer tournament Euro 2016, it’s hard to say that he has. However, the Argentine forward continues to lead his Barcelona side to glory and has had a bigger impact on the sport than any other footballer in his time. But for the third year in a row, Messi hasn’t managed to catch the untouchable Cristiano Ronaldo who has officially won three Ballon d’Or’s in a row now and tops the end of year Top 100 list on The Mastermind for the third successive year.
It is official, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best footballer in the world for the year of 2016. The Portuguese forward was incredible this year winning both Euro 2016 and the UEFA Champions League to win his third Ballon d’Or in a row and this time get nearly double the amount of votes as Messi. Ronaldo not only won the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16 with Real Madrid but also his first ever international tournament with Portugal as the Portuguese superstar led his nation to Euro 2016 glory. Ronaldo had another incredible 2015-16 season and was the figurehead of Zinedine Zidane’s first ever season in charge of Real Madrid. The Portguese forward scored 35 goals with 11 assists in 36 La Liga matches helping Real Madrid finish as surprise-second place finishers after a shaky start to the campaign. But where Ronaldo really showed his class in 2015-16 was in the UEFA Champions League as he scored a stunning 16 goals to lead the tournament by quite some margin and do more than just help Real Madrid lift the trophy. Ronaldo then rocked Euro 2016, leading Portugal all the way to their first ever international tournament trophy with 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 matches. After all the exeritions from Euro 2016, Ronaldo has still managed to start the 2016-17 campaign off brightly as Los Blancos currently lead La Liga and the Portugese player has scored 10 goals with 2 assists in 11 matches so far. It was an incredibly stunning season by the Portuguese forward and after winning the UEFA Champions League and Euro 2016 in the same season, he’s likely already won the 2016 Ballon d’Or and may very well end up taking home The Mastermind‘s Footballer of the Year Award as well.
So there it is! The Mastermind‘s Top 100 Footballers in the World list for 2016. Please don’t be hesitant to share your thoughts in the comment section below. For more information on who just missed out go here: Who Just Missed Out On The Mastermind Top 100 2016. And if all you care about is Top 100 lists, then make sure to be back at the end of the 2016-17 season for another fantastic Mastermind Top 100! See you then!