2020 was a strange year for everyone in the world, not just footballers. But the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we haven’t gotten as much football as we might have done otherwise. That said, there were still plenty of matches played across the year, and some surprise performers and performances along the way. As always, TheMastermindSite.com will now count down the top 100 male footballers in the world for the year. This list takes into account a player’s form in 2020 as it’s primary mechanism, with reputation, difficulty of league, club and national team success each playing a secondary role. So with that in mind, here is TheMastermindSite’s Top 100 Male Footballers in the World for 2020.
100. Danny IngsEmbed from Getty Images
Danny Ings has been highly influential to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s recent resurgence with Southampton, playing an important role in both the press and attack. The British centre forward has scored 6 goals with 2 assists in only 7 matches so far in 2020-21, and he’s earned himself attention again from Gareth Southgate’s England. Perhaps even more impressively, he capped off an incredible 2019-20 season with 22 goals in 38 Premier League matches last campaign, missing out on the golden boot to Jamie Vardy by a single goal.
99. joao felixEmbed from Getty Images
The Portuguese youngster struggled to adjust to life at Atletico when he first arrived, but has now found the perfect partner in Luis Suarez. Joao Felix’s form in 2020-21 has been completely revitalized, scoring 8 goals in 16 matches so far between La Liga and UEFA Champions League matches. He’s also started to earn himself a role in Portugal’s national team, and with the likes of Diogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes by his side, it’s starting to look like a really dangerous attack.
98. Sergio BusquetsEmbed from Getty Images
Barcelona may be ailing and he may be aging, but there’s still a very good footballer in Sergio Busquets. The Spaniard had a decent 2020, helping Barca reach the UEFA Champions League quarter finals and helping his team finish second in La Liga. Although Barcelona would like to do better, it’s still better than most clubs in the world and Busquests himself remains better than most defensive midfielders in the world for his overall awareness, vision, passing, aerial ability and tackling.
97. raphael varaneEmbed from Getty Images
At around the time of the 2018 World Cup, Raphael Varane was considered to be one of the very best defenders in the world. Some even had him second to Virgil Van Dijk. As his career has gone on, Varane hasn’t quite kicked on from that and his form’s been in decline ever since. Madrid haven’t been their absolute brilliant best this season, but Varane’s still been a key performer, featuring in 11 of their 12 matches. The Frenchman also played a major role in their title winning campaign of last season, making 32 league appearances. Whether or not he’s still one of the best defenders in the world is still certainly up for debate, but Varane’s reputation earns him a spot in this list for another year.
96. Dayot UpamecanoEmbed from Getty Images
Dayot Upamecano’s been slowly establishing himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world and might just have done it in 2020. Leipzig finished third in the Bundesliga in 2019-20 as expected, but also made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, which wasn’t expected at all. Upamecano was key to all of that and the only real mainstay in the side at centre-back as a variety of different fullbacks and peripheral players tried to make up for Willi Orban’s absence. Upamecano ensured they didn’t miss Orban one bit, and helped his side achieve something remarkable that might never happen again.
95. Josip IlicicEmbed from Getty Images
One of the stars of Gasperini’s impressive Atalanta side, Josip Ilicic has set Serie A on fire in 2020 with his form. Beyond his 15 goals and 5 assists in Serie A’s 2019-20 season, 5 goals in 7 matches in last season’s Champions League was highly impressive. This is even more impressive considering that nobody expected La Dea to make it to the Quarter Finals, and only miss out on the next round due to late goals from eventual finalists PSG. Unfortunately, Ilicic hasn’t exactly carried out his form in the same way in 2020-21 and is starting to lose minutes to Luis Muriel.
94. César AzpilicuetaEmbed from Getty Images
The Chelsea captain and Spanish legend definitely deserves to be higher here, but unfortunately he’s lost his place in the Chelsea team to Reece James toward the end of 2020. He did extraordinarily well to keep James out of the side at the start of the year and was one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers when given his chance throughout the year, as ever. The 31-year old made 36 appearances in the 2020-21 Premier League season, and his exclusion in the side in place of James and Chilwell is perhaps more shocking than just about anything regarding Chelsea this season. He’s still been given his chance in the Champions League, where the Blues advanced to the Round of 16 before any other team in the competition.
93. Mason MountEmbed from Getty Images
Trusting Mason Mount has been one of Frank Lampard’s smartest decisions since arriving at Chelsea Football Club. The England youngster’s career has been completely transformed under Lampard, and he’s managed to keep the likes of Jorginho and Kai Havertz (albeit different types of players) completely out of the side in recent months. Playing in a slightly deeper role, it’s unsurprising that his numbers have dropped to just 1 goal and 2 assists in 10 matches. However, his overall play has been highly commendable for the Blues this season and Lampard simply cannot afford to leave him out of the side.
92. KOKEEmbed from Getty Images
A long time Atletico Madrid man, Koke had one of the best years of his life in 2020. Atletico’s success was not as great as other years in the 2010s, but it was still a fine year in which they finished third in one season and currently sit top of the table this season in 2020-21. Personally, Koke was at the heart of everything good for Atletico again, scoring 4 goals with 5 assists in 32 league matches last season, while making over 2 tackles per game. Impressively, the Spanish midfielder continues to be used anywhere and everywhere by Simeone, and remains a key figure for his national team.
91. Thomas ParteyEmbed from Getty Images
Been missing since his arrival at Arsenal, but Thomas Partey was brilliant at the start of the year for Atletico Madrid and probably would be much higher on this list had he stayed with the better club. The Ghanaian midfielder epitomized everything about a Diego Simeone side and fit their 4-4-2 system like a puzzle-piece. Since moving to Arsenal he’s done okay and impressed from time to time, but he hasn’t been able to change the Gunners’ fortunes around and hasn’t really got going due to injury.
90. bernardo silvaEmbed from Getty Images
Bernardo Silva was supposed to be David Silva’s long-term replacement, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Bernardo’s been in and out of the side ever since his stellar 2018-19 campaign, in which he made the PFA Team of the Year and helped his side win the league. However, he remains a regular for Portugal and one of their key figures as they prepare for a post Ronaldo era. When given the chance for City, he’s often able to showcase his high degree of talent, even if his goals and assists have been significantly down since 2018-19.
89. david de geaEmbed from Getty Images
In 2020-21, David De Gea’s kept out one of the best goalkeepers in last season’s Premier League, which in and of itself is hypothetically impressive. The problem for David De Gea is that his form hasn’t been what it used to be, and he hasn’t ever looked the same player since failing in his lifelong quest to make a move to Real Madrid. The Spaniard’s kept a load of clean sheets in 2020, and was reasonably helpful in their run to the top four at the end of 2019-20. How much it had to do with David De Gea could be questioned, but so too would be asking how much it had to do with Manchester United’s reasonably shaky defense. Despite all the debate about him as a player, De Gea remains one of the best keepers in the world.
88. EVER BANEGAEmbed from Getty Images
One of the more low-key names on this list, Ever Banega achieved wonders with Sevilla in 2020. The Argentine midfielder scored 3 goals with 7 assists at the heart of Sevilla’s midfield in 33 league matches, and contributed 4 assists in 7 matches to the club’s stellar rise to the Europa League title for the sixth time since 2006. He may not be one best on paper, and he hasn’t even featured for Argentina since 2018. But few midfielders had a better 2020 than Ever Banega.
87. Kai HavertzEmbed from Getty Images
Still finding his feet at Chelsea, Kai Havertz started off the year in fine form (to say the least) at Bayer Leverkusen. The German midfielder ended the season with 12 goals and 6 assists in 30 league matches, leading Leverkusen’s charge to fifth in the table. He also notched 4 goals with 2 assists in 5 UEFA Europa League games, making the squad of the season. Fairly impressively, Leverkusen have actually done very well without him in 2020-21 and Chelsea haven’t really needed him all that much. That said, there’s no denying the role he played for Leverkusen and Germany at the start of the year.
86. Raphael GuerreiroEmbed from Getty Images
One of the most tactically astute footballers in the world, Raphael Guerreiro has been an absolute gem since arriving at Borussia Dortmund from FC Lorient. 2020 was one of Guerreiro’s finest years, operating as an inverted, goal-scoring wing-back in Lucien Favre’s highly-fluid 3-4-2-1 side. Quite remarkably, the versatile Portuguese player scored 8 goals with 2 assists in 29 Bundesliga appearances last season, from left-wing-back. Despite a few injury concerns in 2020-21, he’s pushed past the pain to remain Dortmund’s first choice in that position, assisting 3 goals in 7 matches.
85. Marco verrattiEmbed from Getty Images
Impressive whenever he plays and off to a flying start in 2020-21, Marco Verratti’s unfortunately been hit with too many injuries over the course of his career (and 2020) to ever truly establish himself as one of the very best in his position. But currently the Italian midfielder remains a key cog for PSG, a Champions League finalist. With so much talent now in the PSG midfield, it will be even more impressive should Verratti continue to keep his place as Tuchel’s first choice midfielder. Further, whenever he’s been given the chance for Italy in 2020, he’s looked massively impressive, not just as a regista, but also as a chance creator.
84. Raul JimenezEmbed from Getty Images
I didn’t realize that Raul Jimenez was one of my favourite players until trying to watch Wolves without him. The Mexican forward is quite simply, the epitome of Wolverhampton Wanderers. He is the man that links up with all others, not just as a goal-scorer, but also as a target man, chance creator, play-maker, and all around nuisance for the opposition. 4 goals in 10 matches to start this season might not be Raul’s best, but it’s still right up there and was key to Wolves’ early season form. The Mexican striker played all 38 matches last campaign, scoring 17 goals with 6 assists. With his recent head injury, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will miss him massively in 2020-21. We just have to hope that he comes back stronger than ever following what could have been a career ending injury.
83. Antoine GriezmannEmbed from Getty Images
Antoine Griezmann’s become extremely underrated as a player since moving to Barcelona and that might have something to do with the fact that he is a completely different type of player than what Barca fans are used to. He’s not the most elegant player. He’s a workhorse, playmaker, counter-attacking speedster, who doesn’t fit into Barca’s style of play and has been forced to play out of position to accommodate better players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Someone like Ansu Fati unquestionably fits the style of play more and will be Barca’s man to watch in the future more so than Griezmann. With that said, the Frenchman is still one of the best players in the world and an imperative player for his national team.
82. diogo jotaEmbed from Getty Images
For any player to be capable of turning Liverpool’s front-three into a front-four, they have to be something special. But Diogo Jota’s meteoric success at Liverpool so far in 2020-21 has been a bit of a surprise. He’s broken Liverpool records for least amount of games to score impressive tallies of goals, while simultaneously fitting into Liverpool’s high-pressing, energetic system with ease. With 9 goals from 15 appearances between the league and Champions League, Jota’s proven to be capable of playing anywhere in Klopp’s front four, and capable of providing something different from the other three. The 24-year old’s also begun to establish himself as a regular for Portugal, as his national side prepare for the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era with arguably the most impressive attack they’ve ever had.
81. FRENKIE DE JONGEmbed from Getty Images
Frenkie de Jong’s been one of the only consistent performers in Barcelona’s side in 2020, as the club are at their worst state ever. For personal reasons, de Jong’s had a good 2020 and looks to be Koeman’s first choice central midfielder. He remains one of the best passers in the world, and one of the most comfortable when it comes to decision making on the ball. But when it comes to leading a side to the top of La Liga or the UEFA Champions League, the 23-year old has perhaps had too much weight on his shoulders. Some still regard him as one of the best in the world, but the truth is that Frenkie de Jong still has a long way to go to be considered one of the very best in his position.
HOW WOULD THEY LINE UP? (100-81 team)
SYSTEM OF PLAY: 4-3-3
For the record, the following notable players missed out on the cut this year…
- Lucas Digne
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan
- Hugo Lloris
- Lucas Ocampos
- Edin Dzeko*
- Anthony Martial
- Idrissa Gueye
- Diego Carlos
- Kieran Trippier
- Samir Handanovic
*Made 2019 list
made 2019 list (70-1)
- Dusan Tadic
- Dani Alves
- Jordi Alba
- Paul Pogba
- Gerard Pique
- Ivan Rakitic
- Marco Reus
- Eden Hazard
- Miralem Pjanic
So there it is! The Top 100 Male Footballers in the World (100-81). Who do you think should have made the cut that didn’t? Be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter @mastermindsite or in the comments below and check back soon for the rest of the list! Thanks for reading and see you soon!
You might also enjoy…
-> La Pausa – Tactical Analysis
-> Frank Lampard – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis
-> Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid – Tactical Analysis