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 its 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 (80-61).
80. aymeric laporteEmbed from Getty Images
Unquestionably one of the best centre-backs in world football, Aymeric Laporte just can’t avoid injury. The 26-year old only made 15 league appearances last season, and he’s not on track to do much better with only 4 league appearances so far in 2020-21. This year also hasn’t been the best for Laporte or Manchester City, despite the fact that his reputation remains as one of the very best at what he does. He’s simply not been able to lead Manchester City in the way that Virgil Van Dijk or Kalidou Koulibaly have been able to lead their sides to better times, and perhaps that is why he ranks much lower on this list than his talent would have him.
79. jerome boatengEmbed from Getty Images
It wasn’t too long ago when Bayern Munich looked incapable of winning the UEFA Champions League, primarily because of the issues they were having at centre-back with the aging Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. But, Boateng alongside the surprisingly steady addition of David Alaba at centre-back turned out to be a Champions League winning partnership in 2019-20. The German was probably the least brilliant of all Bayern Munich starting 11 players in 2019-20, but that’s not to undermine what he accomplished. Even despite tough competition for his position, the 32-year old’s remained a stalwart at the back for Bayern, playing 15 matches between Bundesliga and Champions League so far in 2020-21, as Bayern look for a three-peat.
78. presnel kimpembeEmbed from Getty Images
Forming a solid partnership with Thiago Silva throughout the 2019-20 campaign, Kimpembe was brilliant for PSG in their fight to the Champions League final. Since Silva’s departure, the Frenchman’s taking on even more responsibility and earned himself a regular role in Didier Deschamps’ French National team. The 25-year old featured in 10 Champions League matches at the back last campaign, and has made 10 appearances for PSG so far in Ligue 1 as they top the table as per usual. In a few years time, Kimpembe just might be one of the best defenders in the world if he continues on with his current trajectory.
77. WILFRIED ZAHAEmbed from Getty Images
Wilfried Zaha is so good, that the common dogma about Crystal Palace over the years has been that they are a “one-man team”. That is far from the truth, but it is undeniable how much worse Roy Hodgson’s side actually perform when Zaha’s not in the lineup. The Ivorian was always a confident player on the wing, capable of scoring and assisting plenty of goals. But this season he’s taken his game to another level as a striker. The 28-year old has scored 7 goals with 2 assists in his first 10 Premier League appearances so far, heading for his best ever return as a player. In fact, he’s nearly doubled the 4 goals he scored in 38 matches last season playing on the left wing. Now that Zaha is 28 years old, he might never get his big money move to a top six club. But, perhaps instead he’ll create a legacy as Crystal Palace’s greatest ever player.
76. Matthijs de ligtEmbed from Getty Images
Following in the footsteps of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini was always going to be tough, especially for a man still only 21 years old. But the rock-solid Dutchman has continued to perform well for Juventus, and he scored 4 goals in 29 Serie A matches last campaign as The Old Lady lifted the title yet again. This season has been a little tougher for the Dutchman, but he’s still made 7 appearances between Serie A and UEFA Champions League matches. He’s also been a regular for the Dutch National Team, partnering Virgil Van Dijk in what must be one of the best centre-back partnerships in international football. Not as good as 2019, but still a very good year for Matthijs De Ligt.
75. paulo dybalaEmbed from Getty Images
No longer Juventus’ main man up top, Paulo Dybala has struggled to hit his very best form ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival at the club. Ronaldo takes up so many shooting opportunities and often even playing opportunities that could have gone to the Argentine. He now has to contend with Alvaro Morata for a starting birth as well, which is perhaps one reason he’s struggled to score more than just 2 goals in 12 appearances so far between the Serie A and UEFA Champions League in 2020-21. The 27-year old did however have a solid 2019-20 campaign, scoring 11 goals with 6 assists in 33 Serie A matches as Juve lifted the title for another year.
74. axel witselEmbed from Getty Images
Axel Witsel has had another solid year at the heart of Borussia Dortmund’s midfield. Injury troubles at the start of the year stopped him from completing a full season, but the Belgian still made 28 appearances, scoring 4 goals with 5 assists from defensive midfield. He was a regular throughout the year for his national side, one of the best national sides in the world, and BVB continuing into 2020-21 as they topped their UEFA Champions League group. Throughout the year, Witsel’s achieved a pass success rate of 94%, one of the highest in world football. Not the most glorious of central midfielders, but certainly one of the most effective.
73. EDERSON MORAESEmbed from Getty Images
One of the best goalkeepers in the world when he first arrived at Manchester City, Ederson’s highly impressive form has dipped slightly, along with Manchester City’s own dip of form. That said, he’s still absolutely irreplaceable for Guardiola’s side. Ederson currently sits at the top of the clean sheet charts in the Premier League, alongside Martinez, Mendy and McCarthy, with 5. The Brazilian keeper’s also played nearly every minute so far in 2020-21, missing just 1 game between Champions League and Premier League matches so far this term.
72. HAKIM ZIYECHEmbed from Getty Images
Highly influential whenever he gets his chance to play, Hakim Ziyech has simply had too many injury troubles this season to be where he probably should be listed – as one of the fifty best players in the world. Ziyech’s talent is undeniable and he will almost certainly be Chelsea’s most creative attacking output this season if he can recover quickly from his latest injury struggle. The Moroccan’s started life with the Blues well, scoring 1 goal with 3 assists in 7 Premier League appearances so far. His final season with Ajax was also a successful one, scoring 6 goals with 12 assists in just 21 Eredevisie matches. Hakim Ziyech should probably be one of the top fifty or so players in the world, if he could just stay fit for the entirety of a year.
71. JorginhoEmbed from Getty Images
Incredibly unlucky to lose his place in Chelsea’s side, Jorginho has been one of the Blues’ top performers since his arrival in 2018. The Italian international started the 2020-21 season remarkably well and apart from a few misplaced penalties, was in perhaps the form of his life when he was displaced for N’Golo Kante’s return to the number 6 position. The Italian’s been a mainstay for his international side, while also achieving his best return for goals + assists in the 2019-20 season with Chelsea – 4 goals and 2 assists. Although the Blues have fared well without Jorginho in 2020-21, you can’t help but feel at times that Chelsea are missing something crucial in their side that the pass master could so easily provide. Hopefully Lampard will entrust Jorginho more and more again as the season goes on, as he remains one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
70. ben chilwellEmbed from Getty Images
Ben Chilwell was fantastic at Leicester City, and since his move to Chelsea has improved even more. His defensive output and decision making in 1v1’s have improved the most at Chelsea, where at Leicester they were weaker sides of his game. His attacking play and ability to get up and down the line makes Chilwell one of the most exciting fullbacks in the game. But as he ages he will grow more and more comfortable defensively, which we are already starting to see under Frank Lampard. Still only 23-years old, the British fullback has scored 2 goals with 3 assists in his 10 Premier League matches so far with the Blues, and improved in nearly every statistical category out there. Ben Chilwell’s also firmly established himself as England’s best left-back, a position he should hold for years to come.
69. kyle walkerEmbed from Getty Images
Playing for a team that changes players and systems around on a game by game basis is never easy. But Kyle Walker remains one of Guardiola’s favourite options and one of the only mainstays in the Man City lineup. The British fullback is also a regular for Southgate’s England, whether it’s part of a back four or three. Not the most glamorous player, but a highly effective speedster that does not have any major gaps in his game, Kyle Walker has arguanbly been Manchester City’s best player this season. 1 goal and 4 assists in 29 matches last time out was a good season for the 30-year old, and Walker will be hoping to continue on his positive form more and more in 2020-21 and keep the rising Joao Cancelo out of the lineup in the process.
68. pierre-emerick aubameyangEmbed from Getty Images
No one on the planet would have had Aubameyang this low heading into the 2020-21 season, but now after his shockingly bad form, this almost seems generous. Aubameyang capped off 2019-20 in decent form, scoring 9 goals in the second half of the season, ending just shy of the golden boot on 22 goals. Along with Mikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was virtually the main reason Arsenal lifted the FA Cup. He scored 4 of his team’s 11 goals in the competition, despite only playing 2 matches. But of course, we have to judge footballers on far more than just 2 matches, and the Gabonian has had his worst season ever in 2020-21, by a country mile. He scored on the opening day against Fulham, converted a penalty against Manchester United…and that’s it. He’s scored as many goals from open play as he has own goals. That’s shocking from a player who is supposed to be one of the best in the world at scoring goals at the right end of the pitch. In many ways, Aubameyang’s bad run of form has showcased a major hole in Arteta’s side. They simply don’t have anyone else who can score goals on a consistent enough basis, and they’ve suffered as a result of that. Here’s to hoping for better times for the former Borusisia Dortmund man in 2021, who I would still love to see back at BVB any day of the week.
67. memphis depayEmbed from Getty Images
Memphis Depay’s decision to leave Manchester United for Lyon in 2017 was the best decision of his career. The now 26-year old Dutchman has been a revelation for Les Gones and has gone on to his use his stellar format at club level as a platform for making his mark on his national team as well. Depay’s netted 6 goals with 4 assists in 13 Ligue 1 matches so far, adding to his incredible tally of 9 goals in 13 Ligue 1 matches last campaign. The Dutchman also impressed in the UEFA Champions League, helping his club make it to the semi-finals for only the second time in their history. His 6 goals in 8 UCL matches were absolutely imperative to their form, not to mention everything he did for his national team in 2020 as well.
66. LORENZO INSIGNEEmbed from Getty Images
Consistently one of the best players in Italy over the past decade, Lorenzo Insigne never quite hit the highest possible mark that many would have wanted him to hit. However, the now 29-year old remains one of the most influential players for his team, as Napoli remain in the fight for this year’s Serie A title. The Italian international scored a respectable 8 goals with 6 assists last campaign in 37 league appearances. But this season, he’s been even better, contributing 4 goals with 2 assists in only 8 matches so far. The wing wizard’s also made significant contributions to Italy in 2020, assisting 3 goals in 4 UEFA Nations League matches.
65. dani carvajalEmbed from Getty Images
Crucial once again for Real Madrid in their title winning campaign in 2019-20, Dani Carvajal’s suffered through unfortunate injuries throughout this season. If he hadn’t done, he might be considered one of the primary contenders for second best right-back in the world this year. The Spanish fullback contributed 5 assists in 31 matches during Real’s league title win last season, and has performed well in his 5 games so far this campaign, assisting 2 goals. Dani Carvajal is undeniably one of the best fullbacks in the world. He just isn’t able to show it enough as he or anyone else would like.
64. riyad mahrezEmbed from Getty Images
Talent-wise, Riyad Mahrez is one of the best wingers in the world. But with the quality that Manchester City have in their squad, the Algerian can’t ever seem to get a good run of games in. 2020 was an excellent year for the Man City man nonetheless, scoring 4 goals in 8 matches so far this campaign and making his mark for Algeria with 3 goals in 4 matches. He’s also created 2.8 chances per game and completed 2.1 dribbles per game in the Premier League, his highest ever tallies in both categories. Mahrez also had an excellent 2019-20 campaign, finishing with 11 goals and 9 assists in 33 matches in 2019-20. With his growing influence on the Manchester City team, Pep Guardiola should not look to leave Mahrez out of his side for long in the near or far future.
63. pierre-emile hojbjergEmbed from Getty Images
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been one of the most interesting players to watch this Premier League season, and he has taken to life at Tottenham better than anyone could have ever imagined. Playing as both the Makelele and the Pirlo in Jose Mourinho’s highly talented Spurs side, Hojbjerg has been an absolute revelation and one of the Premier League’s supreme performers this season. Impressive in nearly every statistical category in existence, Hojbjerg’s passing numbers could be perhaps the absolute highlight of his game if Jose Mourinho were a possession-based manager. But 72.5 passes per game still demonstrates his influence, as does his 2.9 tackles per game, always getting in the way of his opposition. In his final season for Southampton, the Dane was also a significant influence, captaining Hasenhuttl’s side as a 24-year old to an 11th place finish. It’s hard to find a central midfielder that’s played better than Hojbjerg this season, and that is highly commendable for someone who only joined Spurs for a little over 10 million pounds.
62. leonardo bonucciEmbed from Getty Images
Leonardo Bonucci has almost become underrated in recent years simply because of his age. He’s been one of the best centre-backs in world football yet again, for one of the best club teams in the world of football yet again. The 33-year old made 35 Serie A appearances in 2019-20, scoring 3 goals. He’s continued on his form in 2020-21, scoring 2 goals in 8 Serie A matches, while also playing 5/6 of Juve’s Champions League matches. He’s also been a mainstay in Italy’s back-line, making 4 UEFA Nations League appearances in 2020-21 alone. For a 33-year old to still be playing that many matches is commendable in and of itself. To actually do it and play well is another thing, and something Bonucci deserves a lot of credit for.
61. saul niguezEmbed from Getty Images
Saul Niguez is one of the most versatile players in the world, as we seem to mention every single year. Yet still, he almost remains underrated. Other than Antoine Griezmann, the Spanish midfielder’s been Atletico’s best player over the past five years. Saul had an exceptional season last year, scoring 6 goals (his highest ever total) in 35 matches, making nearly 3 tackles per game, and winning over 3 aerial duels per game. Even more incredible, he played as a central midfielder, defensive midfielder, wing-back, left midfielder, fullback and centre-back. Simeone just has so much trust in the 26-year old and if he had started the 2020-21 campaign as well as all of his previous seasons, he would have very likely made the top 60 again.
HOW WOULD THEY LINE UP? (80-61 TEAM)
SYSTEM OF PLAY: 4-2-3-1
So there it is! The Top 100 Male Footballers in the World (80-61). Who do you think should be ranked higher or lower? Be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter @mastermindsite or in the comments below and check back soon for 60-41! Thanks for reading and see you soon!