Every time a World Cup rolls around, new stars seem to be born instantly. The 2018 World Cup in Russia was no different as players like Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford, Ivan Perisic and Lucas Hernandez announced themselves on the world stage. That being said, the World Cup was only a very small portion of 2018. What really matters in determining the best footballers on the planet for the year is all about how a player performed primarily for their club in a variety of different league, cup and international cup competitions. How they fared for their country is secondary, while their overall reputation as one of the best in the world also plays a very important role. For more on what goes into determining The Mastermind’s Top 100 of 2018 click here. But without further ado, here is the first batch of the Top 100 Footballers of the Year for 2018 starting with numbers 100-81. Enjoy!
100. Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford was arguably the best goalkeeper at the 2018 World Cup. He started all seven of England’s matches, making 17 saves and conceding just 8 goals. For a 24-year old, facing off against some of the best players in the world, that is some achievement. Pickford was exceptional in 2018 for both club and country, picking up Everton’s Player of the Year award for 2017-18 and helping England to a fourth place finish in Russia. Although his form has taken a hit in 2018-19, Pickford remains England’s number one and one of Everton’s most important players.
99. Hirving Lozano
Hirving Lozano’s goal against Germany in the 2018 World Cup 2018 will live long in the memory of Mexican football fans. It was a fantastic achievement and the crowning moment of a brilliant year. However, Lozano’s achievements in 2018 go far beyond what he achieved at the World Cup and it’s amazing that he is still playing in the Eredivisie for PSV Eindhoven. The 23-year old Mexican winger has scored 11 goals with 6 assists in 17 Eredivisie matches to start this campaign, leading his team to the top of the table at Christmas. With his heroics this season, Lozano looks set to better his incredible tally of 17 goals and 8 assists in 29 Eredivisie matches last term. Come next summer, the world could be talking about one of the most expensive transfers for a Mexican footballer ever and Lozano could end up playing for one of the world’s very best sides. For now, the 23-year old continues to do his business for PSV in the Dutch top flight. But whatever he does, he certainly does not do it quietly.
98. Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga has come into the limelight in 2018 after securing a move to Chelsea that made him the most expensive goalkeeper of all time. Kepa has been brilliant since arriving at Chelsea, faring even better than the man whom he replaced in Thibaut Courtois who has struggled to make an impact at Real Madrid. The 6’2 goalkeeper makes every save look easy and as though he’s five inches taller than he actually is. Kepa has started all 19 of the Premier League matches this term, conceding just 20 goals and making 41 saves. In his final 12 matches for Athletic Bilbao, the record-breaking goalkeeper averaged 3.4 saves per game and 2.4 saves per goal conceded, one of the best returns in the league. Kepa Arrizabalaga is a fantastic goalkeeper who could be at Chelsea for years to come. He’s slowly starting to build his reputation as one of the best in the world in his position and 2018 was essential in helping him begin that journey.
97. Lucas Torreira
Lucas Torreira has flourished in Unai Emery’s Arsenal this season, but his accomplishments go back all the way to the start of the year when he was still playing for Serie A side Sampdoria. Few footballers in fact have had a better 2018 than Torreira as it seemingly didn’t matter who he played for – Sampdoria, Uruguay or Arsenal – he was always fantastic. The 22-year old Uruguyan earned his move to Arsenal with his 36 Serie A appearances for Sampdoria in 2017-18 where he scored 4 goals and made nearly 3 tackles per game. He then starred at the World Cup, featuring in all five of Uruguay’s games, before making his big money move to Arsenal. Since his arrival at the Emirates, Torreira has impressed with his dynamism, box-to-box play and threat in the penalty area. He’s scored 2 goals with 2 assists in 19 Premier League matches and seems to be the defensive midfielder that Arsenal fans have been crying out for since the early 2010s. At 22-years old Torreira will only get better.
96. Memphis Depay
No other player has rebuilt their reputation quite like Memphis Depay in 2018. After being a failure at Manchester United, Depay has clawed his way back to being one of the best players in world football. In large part, he deserves a massive amount of credit for taking an average Netherlands side and helping them top their UEFA Nations League group ahead of France and Germany. But what he’s accomplished for Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 has been equally impressive. Depay has scored 5 goals with 7 assists in 18 French league matches this season, continuing on the fine form that he started at the beginning of 2018 with 7 goals in 14 appearances to finish up the 2017-18 Ligue 1 season. Lyon have been looking like one of the mightiest sides in Europe this season and it is in large part down to the brilliance of their Dutch forward Memphis Depay.
95. Heung Min-Son
Admittedly, Heung-Min Son’s best form of 2018 has come in the last two months, with all 7 of his goals this season coming in his last 9 appearances. However, Son has been good throughout 2018 and has found a niche now at Tottenham Hotspur, often being deployed as a second striker alongside Harry Kane in recent weeks. The 26-year old finished off the 2017-18 league campaign in fine form with 6 goals in 18 appearances before representing South Korea at the World Cup with 2 goals in 3 matches. Although he was unable to lead his nation out of the Group Stage, his performances for his nation still gained many a headline. Since then he’s continued on that fine form in both the league as already mentioned, and he’s been on fire in the League Cup so far with 3 goals in 3 appearances. Heung Min-Son should only get better from here and if he is able to get a consistent run in the Premier League could turn into one of the league’s very best players.
Many expected Koke to be one of Europe’s very best midfielders by now and despite always being solid for Spain and Atletico Madrid, it just hasn’t happened. He earned himself a regular starting birth at the 2018 World Cup and played 3 matches, something he’s deserved to have for years, but didn’t make the most of that opportunity and Spain crashed out at the Round of 16 to the hosts Russia. Since then he has struggled to make the same desired impact at Atletico Madrid and reach the same heights he’s achieved throughout his career. In 2018-19 so far he’s scored 1 goal without an assist in 14 matches so far this term. The one thing that earns him a place on this list for the fifth straight year is his form in the Europa League that helped Atletico lift the trophy. Although they were always likely to win being a fish too big for the pond that the Europa League normally provides, Koke like others still stepped up to help Atletico claim their third Europa League title. The Spaniard scored 2 goals with 3 assists in his 9 appearances at the tournament and he’s come alive in Europe this season again with 2 goals and 1 assist in 5 UEFA Champions League matches thus far. Koke is still one of the best midfielders in the world and his versatility and importance to Diego Simeone has never been in question. The question is now whether Koke can kick on and become the player that all expected him to become, or if his progress will continue to stall.
93. Marcos Alonso
Whether it’s as a left-back or left-wing-back, Marcos Alonso never seems to disappoint for Chelsea. Although criticized for not being as good of a defender as he is attacker, Alonso has looked incredibly comfortable in Sarri’s back four this season and has played well even when Chelsea haven’t. There is hardly anything wrong with Alonso’s game and he always seems to know exactly the right moment to get forward and provide a goal or assist for his team. In 19 matches to start 2018-19, Alonso has scored 1 goal with 3 assists. Although he wasn’t selected for Spain’s World Cup 2018 squad, his recent performances have earned him a spot in recent UEFA Nations League matches as Spain continue to fly high in League A. He may be criticized for his defending at times, but Marcos Alonso is one of the very best left-backs on the planet and achieved a massive amount of success in 2018 for Chelsea and Spain.
92. Andrew Robertson
When Andrew Robertson made his move from Hull City to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, few would have expected he’d make quite the impact that he has made. The Scottish fullback has been one of Liverpool’s standout players in 2018, excelling in both attack and defense on route to a Champions League final and the top of the Premier League table. Robertson has featured in 17 of Liverpool’s 19 Premier League matches so far this campaign, assisting 3 goals. He’s also been crucial in the UEFA Champions League, playing 6 matches and providing a further 2 assists. He’s even impressed some of the best managers in the world – Jose Mourinho recently said that he got tired watching Robertson run circles around his Manchester United team. Andrew Robertson at 24-years old is developing a reuptation as one of the best left-backs in the world and it’s only a matter of time before he earns himself a heavy set of accolades.
91. Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller has struggled to find top form in recent years, particularly in front of goal where his numbers have dipped tremendously. He’s always been one of the World Cup’s star men since his arrival on the scene in 2010, but Muller was just as bad as any other German in 2018 as the defending champions crashed out in the Group Stage. So this is a strange one – A player with a fantastic reputation for scoring goals who hasn’t found the back of the net all that often in 2018…just four times in 16 Bundesliga matches this term. The one saving grace that earns him a spot on this list, albeit a very low spot on this list, is his form at the tailend of the 2017-18 Bundesliga season that earned Bayern Munich another league and cup title. In his final 14 Bundesliga appearances, Muller scored 6 goals and created 24 chances, both of which were only bettered by one other player in his team. Although it hasn’t been the best of years from Thomas Muller, he is still Thomas Muller and on rare occasions continues to do what he does best.
90. Thomas Meunier
Thomas Meunier first rose to fame at the Euros in 2016 and since then he’s seemingly gotten better with every game. Two years at PSG has now culminated in Meunier becoming the best right back in the French league and one of the very best in his position in the entire world. Under Roberto Martinez’s management, Thomas Meunier was a standout at the 2018 World Cup and Belgium likely would not have been able to play the same way and achieve the same heights without him. To finish up the 2017-18 campaign, Meunier made just as many appearances in the Ligue 1 as Dani Alves (11). This season, he’s kept the Brazilian out of the lineup even after Alves’ return from injury and has featured in 12 Ligue 1 matches, becoming a mainstay in Thomas Tuchel’s lineup. But his main heroics of 2018 came in Russia where he crucially scored a goal and provided 2 others in 5 matches as Belgium picked up a bronze medal.
89. Kieran Trippier
Speaking of right backs developing their trade, Kieran Trippier elevated his reputation as one of the best right backs in the world to new heights in 2018, becoming one of England’s most integral members in a World Cup filled with joy for the Three Lions. Undoubtedly the best right back at the tournament, Trippier was robbed of a place on FIFA’s Team of the Tournament. 1 goal and 1 assist in 6 matches is hardly enough to exemplify the role he played, but his 3 tackles per game and 4 chances created per game helps to demonstrate his importance a little more. Since the World Cup, Trippier has continued in good form with a goal and 3 assists from 14 appearances, always looking deadly from set-pieces. At 28 years old, Kieran Trippier has finally established himself as what everyone knew he always could if he was given the opportunity – one of the very best right backs in the world.
88. Toby Alderweireld
Toby Alderweireld has suffered through injury and the arrival of Davinson Sanchez, but still remains one of the best centre backs in the Premier League. There are few players in the world who can pass a ball like the Belgian can and that has been on full display in his 17 Premier League and 5 Champions League matches so far this term. Alderweireld was also very consistent at the World Cup for Belgium, contributing to their bronze medal with 6 appearances. He hasn’t earned the same recognition this year as others in his position like Van Dijk and Maguire, but Tody Alderweireld has had a solid year and remains one of the best defenders in the world.
87. Mats Hummels
Mats Hummels has been part of every single one of these lists since 2012 and it’s weird seeing him so low down (this is the lowest he has ever been ranked). 2018 was not the greatest of years for Hummels, but he still helped Bayern triumph in both the Bundesliga in 2017-18 and the DFB-Pokal. The German defender made 26 Bundesliga appearances last season and although he hasn’t been up to par in the league this time around, he’s actually been very bright in the UEFA Champions League, leading Bayern to the top of Group E. Unfortunately, the 30-year old had a torrid time at the 2018 World Cup and has started off the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign in a similar fashion. He is now at risk of losing his starting spot for both club and country. This, coming after seven/eight years of being renowned as one of the very best centre backs in the world. Mats Hummels should be able to rebound from this bad spell but in all the talk about players like Virgil Van Dijk and Raphael Varane, the incredible talent that the German possesses is slowly beginning to be forgotten.
Fabinho has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the world for quite some time now, but it’s only now that he’s at Liverpool that he’s getting the plaudits he deserves. A player that can seemingly do it all, it’s a mystery why the former Monaco man is still to break into the Brazilian national team. The 25-year old has recently become an impact player for Jurgen Klopp’s men with a goal and two assists in his first 10 Premier League appearances. With 7 goals and 3 assists in 34 Ligue 1 matches, his final season at Monaco was arguably his best and it’s easy to see why Liverpool spent so much to sign the Brazilian. Les Rouges et Blancs have been dreadful since his departure, which is unsurprising given how much they achieved in Fabinho’s five year spell at the club. Now that he’s at Liverpool, Fabinho could be set to lift a second league title of his career.
85. Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen has had a history of ups and downs since his arrival at Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 but now that the Belgian has turned 31, there seems to be a whole lot more up than down as of late. After a fantastic season with Tottenham Hotspur that earned him a place in the 2017-18 Team of the Year, Vertonghen regained his status as world class with his performances for Belgium at the 2018 World Cup. Since then he’s had an injury-riddled 2018-19 campaign for Spurs, but when he has played he’s been up to task. Despite the 31-year old only making 9 appearances in the Premier League this season, he still has to be considered one of the very best defenders in the league. It’s a reputation he’s earned with his fantastic performances in 2017-18 and in Russia this past summer.
84. Blaise Matuidi
At 31-years old Blaise Matuidi should be slowing down by now, but the French midfielder continues to be one of the best in his position on the planet. Matuidi was essential to France’s World Cup win, playing out of position to help Pogba, Mbappe and Kante to flourish. An underrated member of France’s World Cup squad, Matuidi played in 5 matches at the tournament, making nearly 3 tackles per game. For Juventus this season he’s been exceptional and has maintained a regular starting position, even despite all the competition for places in Allegri’s midfield. He’s never been a player to score goal after goal, game after game, but what Matuidi achieves in helping every other player around him flourish is incredibly impressive.
83. Ivan Perisic
Few would have expected Ivan Perisic to make the impact that he made for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup. The 29-year old winger was absolutely on fire in Croatia’s seven game run, scoring 3 goals with 1 assist. Perhaps even more impressive however was his overall play, running a greater distance than anyone else at the tournament and coming up clutch when it mattered most. What he achieved at the World Cup is even more astonishing given that he missed only 1 Serie A match for Inter Milan in 2017-18 prior to the tournament. His 11 goal-9 assist tally in those 37 matches is also incredibly impressive. He’s struggled to hit the same heights since returning from all his exertions in Russia but in recent weeks has looked like himself again and his tally of 3 goals in 17 Serie A matches so far is not bad given all else that he provides to Inter Milan.
82. Keylor Navas
Keylor Navas was instrumental in helping Real Madrid win their third straight Champions League title under Zinedine Zidane in 2017-18. Then after no fault of his own, he lost his place in the starting lineup to Thibaut Courtois. In his absence, Real Madrid have fared terribly in La Liga and currently sit miserably in fourth place. The good news for Navas is that Los Blancos have won both of the league matches he has played in this season, and in both matches, he was absolutely brilliant. At 32-years old Navas is coming into what should be the zenith of his goalkeeping career, but he has unfortunately lost his place to a man who has struggled to live up to the hype. So despite not playing an awful lot to start the 2018-19 campaign, Keylor Navas still deserves to be considered one of the very best goalkeepers on the planet.
81. Alexandre Lacazette
He may not always start up front, but Alexandre Lacazette still always finds a way to score goals. He finished off the 2017-18 campaign with 6 goals in 11 matches and was unlucky not to make France’s 2018 World Cup squad. Despite his hurtful exclusion from Deschamps squad, Lacazette has continued to do what he does best at Arsenal and has scored 6 goals with 5 assists in 18 Premier League matches. But strikers will always be graded based on their goal return and Lacazette’s is not where it could be. That is the only thing from stopping the French forward from having a higher place on this list.
Make sure to check out all the other big reveals. See you soon and happy reading!
TOP 100 FOOTBALLERS 2018