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 (40-21).
40. alejandro gomezEmbed from Getty Images
Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez remains one of the most underrated footballers on the world stage, despite tearing it up for Atalanta in Serie A for years now. The 32-year old Argentinean had his best year ever in 2020, leading his side to the UEFA Champions League semi-final. In Serie A, he was firing on all cylinders with 7 goals and 16 assists across 36 matches in the whole of 2019-20. Even if not at the same insanely high standards, this season he’s on track to do well, with 4 goals and 2 assists in 10 Serie A matches so far. He’s also already matched his goal and assist return of 1 goal and 2 assists in the UEFA Champions League last season. One of the most creative midfielders in the world, Alejandro Gomez definitely deserves a massive rise to the top 40 this year.
39. LUIS SUAREZEmbed from Getty Images
Luis Suarez didn’t have a brilliant end to his Barcelona career. He only scored 6 goals with 2 assists in his final set of matches for the club in 2020. But, he’s been a new man at Atletico and is firing on all cylinders again with Joao Felix by his side. The Uruguayan striker’s scored 7 goals so far in his first 10 matches for Los Rojiblancos, as they currently sit top of La Liga.
38. n’golo kanteEmbed from Getty Images
N’Golo Kante’s been brilliant throughout the year, not just in the last few months as some people seem to suggest. When he hasn’t been brilliant, it’s because he’s been out of the side due to injury. His tackles and interception numbers are right back up to where they were a few seasons ago when he was consistently ranked in the top twenty on these sorts of lists. He’s back where he belongs in the Chelsea and France midfield, and certainly deserves credit as one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet once again.
37. raheem sterlingEmbed from Getty Images
Last year, Raheem Sterling was so good that we even ranked him inside the top ten! That seems outrageous now given that 2020 just wasn’t his year. He suffered at times through injury, but even when he was fit and inside the City eleven, he wasn’t the Raheem Sterling we’ve come to know. His goal return of 9 in 14 matches was a pretty decent way to end the 2019-20 season in full flow. But this season, Sterling’s looked a ghost of his former self, scoring just 4 goals in 12 matches. He’s taking fewer shots, engaging in fewer 1v1 situations, and creating less chances for his teammates. For a player that ranked inside the top ten last year, it hasn’t been his best year. But Raheem Sterling is still one of the best forwards on the planet, undeniably.
36. FABINHOEmbed from Getty Images
It’s crazy to think that so many Liverpool players, like Fabinho, remain so underrated. Fabinho really could genuinely be one of the ten to twenty best players in the world. 2020 was a fantastic year for the Liverpool midfielder. He was a massive part of their league winning success of last season, anchoring in front of the back-four in 28 matches. This season he’s arguably been the best centre-back in the league, despite not actually being a centre-back by trade. The Brazilian’s completed over 75 passes per game and 2.6 tackles per game, within the top ten in both categories. As impressive as he is, Fabinho remains an underrated player, not even cracking the top 50 of the Guardian’s outlandish list. We’re not sure why, given his stellar 2020 for Liverpool and Brazil.
35. Toni KroosEmbed from Getty Images
Many thought that by now Toni Kroos and Luka Modric might have faded out of the Real Madrid lineup. But they remain in the side due to their stellar performances throughout 2020. The German international remains one of La Liga’s supreme passers of the ball, and chipped in with 4 goals and 5 assists in last season’s campaign as Real won the league. He’s been a consistent performer for his team again this year as they battle with Atletico for another title, featuring in 11 La Liga matches in 2020-21 up to this point.
34. angel di mariaEmbed from Getty Images
Angel di Maria was such a key member of PSG’s Champions League final squad. At 32-years old he shouldn’t still be this good. But with so many goal-scoring threats around him, di Maria has flourished in a creative role once again in 2020. His 8 goals with 14 assists was unmatched in last season’s Ligue 1 campaign. But even more impressively, he scored 3 goals with 6 assists as PSG reach the final of the UEFA Champions League. This season, the Argentine’s carried over his form, scoring 3 goals with 6 assists between 16 Ligue 1 and Champions League matches.
33. Zlatan IbrahimovicEmbed from Getty Images
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 39-years old, but he is still one of the most incredible sports specimen on the planet. After winning the Golden Boot in MLS with 31 goals in 31 matches, Zlatan made a January transfer move to AC Milan, and scored 10 goals with 5 assists in his first 18 Serie A matches back with the club. It was a remarkable return for the Swede, who many thought wouldn’t be able to nail down a starting birth upon his Serie A return. Since 2020-21 has kicked off, Zlatan’s been on another planet again, scoring 10 goals in 6 Serie A matches so far. AC Milan haven’t lost so far in the league this season, and Ibrahimovic is a massive reason why. Individually, he’s the joint top scorer in the league, despite playing fewer matches than the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo. It is absolutely incredible that at 39-years old, in 2020, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still one of the very best footballers in the world.
32. Roberto FirminoEmbed from Getty Images
In the past, I’ve squashed thoughts of Roberto Firmino being “underrated”, since everyone had him right up there in the top twenty to thirty footballers in the world, where he should be. This season, Roberto Firmino’s definitely been underrated, despite being one of Liverpool’s consistent performers as they sit top of the league. The Brazilian forward’s scored 5 goals with 3 assists while starting all 14 of Liverpool’s Premier League matches so far. He contributed 9 goals with 8 assists in last season’s campaign, as Liverpool lifted the title. Firmino’s never been a ‘natural number 9’ and fans/pundits/commentators, etc. around the world need to stop looking only at his goal tallies as some sort of judgement for how good of a footballer he is.
31. Jadon SanchoEmbed from Getty Images
Jadon Sancho is probably one of the most difficult players to rank in 2020. He was practically top ten level by the end of the 2019-20 season, which we have to remember, was about July/August. This was despite not really even setting the world on fire for his national team. In that time, the wing wizard had a goals + assists record as good as anyone in the world of football. 17 goals with 16 assists in 33 Bundesliga matches is absolutely outrageous, and it demonstrates how good Jadon Sancho can be all on his own. This season, and this is coming from a Borussia Dortmund supporter and massive Jadon Sancho fan, he’s been abysmal in the Bundesliga. He’s just not doing Jadon Sancho things anymore, and he’s only assisted 3 goals, without scoring. He’s not taking players on with his incredible skillset that he has like he did in previous years. He’s not demanding the ball at every opportunity and he’s missed some chances that you’d expect him to score. Luckily, his form in the UEFA Champions League has still been positive and it’s clearly made a difference as the Black & Yellows topped their group. Considering the first half of the year was insanely positive from Jadon Sancho’s perspective, he probably is a bit low on this year’s list.
30. jordan hendersonEmbed from Getty Images
Jordan Henderson is one of the best midfielders not only in the Premier League, but in the world of football and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. His off the ball movement, vision and range of passing, leadership and overall influence on his team is probably unrivalled in the league. In fact, Liverpool’s worst spell this season was when he was injured. In his 30 matches last campaign, the British midfielder scored 4 goals with 5 assists in 30 matches for the Reds. This was his highest tally since his first two seasons at the club. In more of a defensive midfield role this time around, Jordan Henderson can be happy with his performances throughout 2020-21 so far and the fact that Liverpool sit top of the league once again, by a growing margin.
29. Thiago SilvaEmbed from Getty Images
I’m not quite sure how Thiago Silva remains underrated on all of these lists. He didn’t even make ESPN’s outrageous list that included American duo Serginio Dest and Christian Pulisic. He didn’t make the top fifty on the Guardian’s list either, which seems crazy given what he’s accomplished in 2020. This year might genuinely have been Silva’s best. He was the best defender in France, came as close as he’ll ever come to winning the UEFA Champions League, and then transformed Chelsea’s defense practically the minute he walked through the door. It almost seems as though people are underrating the PSG defender because he’s 36-years old and that’s supposed to be an age where players aren’t this good. The fact of the matter is that Thiago Silva was brilliant in 2020 and is definitely unlucky to miss out on the FIFPRO World XI this year.
28. CasemiroEmbed from Getty Images
One of the most understated footballers of the past five years, I cannot understand how Casemiro is still so underappreciated for what he does. He’s been the best defensive midfielder in the world or at least competing with N’Golo Kante for that title, since about 2016. The Brazilian midfielder scored 4 goals with 3 assists in 35 league matches last campaign, as Real Madrid won the title. He also completed nearly 3 tackles per game and won nearly 3 duels in the air per game. For a side that keep a fair amount of possession, that’s even more impressive. Casemiro’s kept on those same levels of play in all regards this season, continuing to nail down a place in Real’s star-studded midfield.
27. ROMELU LUKAKUEmbed from Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku has been almost underrated ever since his Manchester United move didn’t quite work out as planned. He’s still one of the best strikers on the planet, and is currently the joint top scorer in the Serie A on 10 goals from 11 matches. The Belgian international also had a remarkable 2019-20 season, scoring 23 goals in 36 Serie A matches. For his country, he’s also been on form to score 5 goals in 5 Nations League matches. But perhaps most importantly to those ranking these types of lists, Lukaku’s play in European competitions has been extraordinary. He scored 7 goals with 2 assists in last season’s fight to the Europa League final; and bagged 4 goals in 5 UEFA Champions League matches this campaign. Romelu Lukaku is undeniably one of the greatest goal-scorers and strikers in the world, and his role for Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan cannot be understated.
26. Ciro ImmobileEmbed from Getty Images
Ciro Immobile has a knack for scoring goals in Serie A like no other. His form for Lazio in 2020 was incredible, scoring 36 goals with 9 assists in 37 matches, and helping Lazio S.S. earn a UEFA Champions League birth in the process. This season, the Italian’s been firing on all cylinders again, scoring 8 goals in 10 league matches + 5 goals in only 4 UEFA Champions League games as Inzaghi’s side progressed to the next round. Underrated but deadly.
25. Heung Min-SonEmbed from Getty Images
Heung-Min Son is becoming an anomaly in world football, because he scores with nearly every shot he takes. The South Korean has scored 11 goals with 4 assists in only 14 Premier League matches so far this campaign, despite taking only 25 shots. This makes Son one of the top players in the world when it comes to shot accuracy, goal conversion rates, and of course, goal-scoring, to which he’s right in the hunt for the Golden Boot this time around. Last season Son was also firing on all cylinders, scoring 11 goals with 10 assists in 30 Premier League matches.
24. Manuel NeuerEmbed from Getty Images
Manuel Neuer is back to his best, winning the treble with Bayern Munich in 2020 as their first-choice goalkeeper and captain. Between both 2019-20 and the year that is 2020-21 so far, Neuer’s made 62 appearances in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League alone. That’s pretty incredible for a goalkeeper that at this time last year, many thought didn’t have much time left for Bayern Munich at all. The one knock against Neuer in comparison to Oblak and Alisson is that he has been pretty atrocious for Germany, alongside a shaky back-line that hasn’t been what you expect from a team that won the World Cup not too long ago.
23. ALISSON BECKEREmbed from Getty Images
Alisson won the Premier League with Liverpool, remained Brazil’s first choice goalkeeper and performed excellently well throughout 2020. He even earned a selection to the FIFPRO World XI. So the fact that he’s not in the top twenty here could raise some eyebrows. Other players (many of them Liverpool teammates of his) have simply been far too good in 2020, while Alisson has only kept 3 clean sheets for the Reds so far this season in 2020-21. His saves per goal conceded ratio isn’t brilliant either, although he unquestionably remains such a massive difference for Liverpool both in and out of possession, rarely ever making a mistake. Undeniably one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers, Alisson just misses out on the top twenty this year.
22. Jan OblakEmbed from Getty Images
Jan Oblak has played every single minute of La Liga and UEFA Champions League action so far in 2020-21. The Slovenian has kept 11 clean sheets in his 18 matches between the two competitions so far this season, backed up by an excellent defense in front of him. He’s done absolutely nothing wrong, but other players have just been so good this season that Jan Oblak drops out of the top 20 for the first time since 2017. If Atletico win the league in 2021, you can almost certainly expect to see Jan Oblak back inside the top twenty.
21. Karim BenzemaEmbed from Getty Images
Karim Benzema had a magnificent 2020. If France were still in business for the outcasted striker, they’d be an even stronger side, and certain favourites for Euro 2021. Even when his teammates haven’t been good, the Frenchman’s picked up the slack. The 33-year old was crucial to their La Liga title last year, scoring 21 goals with 8 assists in 37 matches. This season, Benzema’s practically on par for his best season yet, with 11 goals and 5 assists between 17 league and Champions League matches. For many strikers we’d say it’s not just the goals and the assists. But for Benzema, it kind of is.
So there it is! The Top 100 Male Footballers in the World (40-21). 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 the final list – 20-1! Thanks for reading and see you soon!