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 (20-1).
20. Sergio RamosEmbed from Getty Images
Sergio Ramos had another stellar year, continuing to be one of the best centre-backs in the world. He was magnificent for Real Madrid in last season’s La Liga winning campaign, unquestionably the top defender in the league. A lot of them were penalties, but Ramos’ tally of 11 goals in 35 matches in 2019-20 is a pretty insane record for a centre-back. It’s better than a lot of strikers for that matter. His performances for Spain in the UEFA Nations League and Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League have been perhaps what has earned him so much praise in 2020, as he has been probably the best he’s been in years for both club and country on the global stage.
19. Harry KaneEmbed from Getty Images
Harry Kane remains England’s best centre-forward, but he’s also growing into more and more of a playmaker. The now 27-year old has struggled with injuries in previous seasons, but he has set the league alight in 2020-21, scoring 9 goals with 10 assists in just 14 league games so far. The British striker could very well end up breaking Thierry Henry’s assist record this season if he carries on at this rate. Despite his injury woes, whenever Harry Kane was fit, he was absolutely clinical and imperative to Tottenham Hotspur’s fortunes.
18. Andrew RobertsonEmbed from Getty Images
It’s remarkable that Andrew Robertson is not talked about in the same light as Trent Alexander-Arnold as much as he should be. He was ranked significantly lower on TheGuardian’s list of Top 100 Footballers this year than TAA for example, despite having a much better 2020-21 season at the very least than his teammate. Robertson hasn’t missed a minute of Premier League action so far in 2020-21, scoring 1 goal and assisting 5. He also capped off a fantastic 2019-20 season with 2 goals and 12 assists in 36 matches, only 1 less assist than Alexander-Arnold. Robertson’s also been imperative for Scotland in 2020, as they managed to scrape into Euro 2021.
17. Trent Alexander-ArnoldEmbed from Getty Images
Trent Alexander-Arnold is undeniably the best fullback in world football at the moment. No other right back can come anywhere close to comparing to his insane output in goals and assists and overall ability. The 22-year old Liverpool playmaker assisted 13 goals, scoring 4 himself in 38 Premier League matches last season, helping the Reds win the title. This season, Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been quite as potent, only assisting 2 goals. That said, he’s still been a guaranteed starter for both club and country, and even made the FIFPRO World XI this year.
16. Serge GnabryEmbed from Getty Images
Serge Gnabry had an impressive 2020, helping Bayern Munich to the treble as one of their key performers. The now 25-year old scored 9 goals in 10 UEFA Champions League matches + 12 goals with 10 assists in 31 matches in last season’s Bundesliga, as Bayern won both competitions. This season, the German international’s still been hitting positive form, but not to the same extraordinary heights. Gnabry is yet to score in the UEFA Champions League this season, with 4 goals in 12 matches this Bundesliga campaign. Still, Serge Gnabry remains one of Bayern Munich’s most influential players and one of the best wingers in the world.
15. Bruno FernandesEmbed from Getty Images
Bruno Fernandes had an absolutely remarkable 2020, after making his dream move to Manchester United. Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes is a question on everyone’s mind. But perhaps a more unasked question is – where would Bruno Fernandes be without Manchester United? His career’s just completely taken off this year to incredible heights, and the two have fit each other like a puzzle. Most influential as an attacking midfielder, Bruno scored 8 goals with 7 assists in only 14 Premier League matches last season, playing a massive role in their 3rd place finish and UEFA Champions League qualification. All of those matches took place this year and that tally even bettered his final season with Sporting CP, scoring 8 goals with 7 assists in 17 matches before he left Liga NOS. This season, the Manchester United man has been on a different planet, scoring 10 goals with 6 assists in only 14 matches. He’s arguably been the best player in the whole of the Premier League, not to mention his club, who currently sit third in the league.
14. David AlabaEmbed from Getty Images
David Alaba was one of the best centre-backs in 2020, and before 2020, he wasn’t even a centre-back. The Austrian’s career has just been complete transformed under Hansi Flick in a position that suits his astute reading of the game like no other. The 28-year-old’s always been a versatile player, but centre-back came as a complete surprise and it’s perhaps even more impressive what Alaba has achieved this year given the positional change. He’s become Bayern’s first choice in the position, featuring in 28 Bundesliga and 8 UEFA Champions League matches last campaign. This season he’s been equally as good, making 17 appearances already between both competitions.
13. Thiago AlcantaraEmbed from Getty Images
Thiago Alcantara is unquestionably one of the ten most talented footballers in the world, and could have been named our choice for best midfielder of 2020 had he been able to stay fit throughout 2020. Since moving to Liverpool, he had two insanely impressive performances in his only two matches, but he hasn’t been able to demonstrate what else he can do because of injury and COVID-19. That said, Thiago was imperative to Bayern Munich’s UEFA Champions League winning season. The Spaniard made 10 appearances in the Champions League and 24 in the Bundesliga as the Bavarian club won both competitions. In the Champions League, Thiago made over 5 tackles + interceptions per game and dictated absolutely everything for his club in the middle of the park. He likely would be doing the exact same thing for Liverpool right now had he only been able to stay fit.
12. Sadio ManeEmbed from Getty Images
Sadio Mane is low at #12 here, but the 11 names above him all have so much going for them this year that it was an incredibly tough call to make. Mane was brilliant in 2020, but it wasn’t his absolute best year in a Liverpool shirt and he had a slight dip in form leading up to this point in the 2020-21 season. So far this season, the Senegalese winger has scored 5 goals with 2 assists in 13 Premier League matches. It’s a commendable tally, but not as great as his high standard set in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Mane scored 18 goals with 7 assists last year as Liverpool lifted the title and he will be hoping to get back to that sort of form to reclaim a place among the ten best footballers in the world.
11. Erling HaalandEmbed from Getty Images
Unlike Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland’s been a consistent performer for Borussia Dortmund throughout the year. His goal return is absolutely outrageous and it’s actually scary just how many goals he scores at only 20-years of age. The Norwegian striker scored 13 goals with 2 assists in 15 matches last campaign (all in 2020), and this season has been on a different planet, with 10 goals in 8 matches for BVB. They’ve missed him dearly when he’s been out of the side and when he’s been firing, they’ve been firing. This is further illustrated by the 6 goals he’s scored in 4 UEFA Champions League matches, as the Black & Yellows topped their group. For Norway in the UEFA Nations League, he’s been just as good, scoring 6 goals in 4 matches. Erling Haaland is on a different planet right now when it comes to goal scoring, and likely will be a Ballon d’Or winner some day if he carries on at this rate.
10. Thomas MullerEmbed from Getty Images
Thomas Muller has been revitalized under Hansi Flick and arguably had his best ever year in 2020, and best ever season in 2019-20 as die Roten won the treble. Muller led the league and tied Messi’s tally of 21 assists across Europe’s top five leagues, adding another 8 goals in the process. In the UEFA Champions League, he added a further 4 goals and 2 assists in 10 matches en route to Bayern’s fantastic success. This season, Muller looks set to increase his goal tally, with 6 goals and 7 assists in the Bundesliga season already after 13 matches. Thomas Muller had a remarkable 2020 and his chemistry up front with Lewandowski was a massive reason for Bayern Munich’s success throughout the year.
9. Virgil Van DijkEmbed from Getty Images
Despite being the runner-up for the PFA Player of the Year award and helping Liverpool to the title, some might say it wasn’t Virgil Van Dijk’s greatest year (which by the way was last year). He wasn’t too far off the mark in 2020, but he really did have a torrid time at the beginning of the 2020-21 season before picking up a near season ending injury. His injury was unfortunate both in its consequences and in not allowing Van Dijk to pick up a few solid performances toward the end of 2020 and climb back up the list where he belongs. But the defender was exceptional in 2019-20, playing every minute and scoring 5 goals as Liverpool won the title. He was also exceptional for Netherlands in 2020, as they prepared for next year’s Euros. Here’s to hoping Virgil Van Dijk will be back soon enough, and be back to where he probably belongs as one of the top five footballers in the world.
8. NeymarEmbed from Getty Images
Neymar had another fantastic year, helping PSG reach the UEFA Champions League final in a new role as a centre-forward. The Brazilian attacker netted 3 goals with 4 assists in 7 matches during last season’s run to the UEFA Champions League final, adding another 13 goals with 6 assists in only 15 total Ligue 1 matches before the shutdown. This season, Neymar’s been in full flow again, scoring 9 goals with 3 assists in his 12 matches so far between Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League. Very few players have achieved more than Neymar in 2020, so again it feels harsh that he only ranks 8 on our list.
7. Kylian MbappeEmbed from Getty Images
Kylian Mbappe at number 7 is another one that could be considered low here. The 22-year old Frenchamn was remarkable for PSG in 2020, helping them reach the UEFA Champions League final and win Ligue 1 for another year. Mbappe’s tally of 5 goals and 5 assists in 10 UEFA Champions League matches was very impressive. He added even more to that with 18 goals and 5 assists in 20 Ligue 1 matches before the league was shut down. This season, it could be argued that the Frenchman’s been even better, scoring 14 goals with 7 assists in 18 combined Ligue 1 and Champions League matches. He will undoubtedly be one of France’s most important players next year and depending on their success, could easily climb back up this list again.
6. Mohamed SalahEmbed from Getty Images
Mohamed Salah had a great year, helping Liverpool win the title in 2019-20, before leading the league in scoring to this point in the 2020-21 season. The Egyptian forward scored 23 goals with 12 assists in his 42 matches between UEFA Champions League and Premier League matches last campaign, and he’s been even better in 2020-21. So far this season, Salah’s netted 13 goals with 3 assists in only 13 Premier League matches, adding another 3 goals in 6 UEFA Champions League games. One of the speediest, deadliest goal scorers on the planet, Mohamed Salah certainly deserves his rightful place in the top ten for another year.
5. Joshua KimmichEmbed from Getty Images
Joshua Kimmich has been the best defensive midfielder in the world this year, undeniably. With Benjamin Pavard’s arrival at the club, Kimmich seamlessly moved into a position at the heart of Bayern Munich’s midfield, and was imperative to their success throughout 2020. The German international had a remarkable season last year, scoring 6 goals with 11 assists in 44 matches between Champions League and Bundesliga matches. This season, the 25-year old was on track to do even better before picking up a horrible injury against Borussia Dortmund. Kimmich’s 2020-21 tally of 2 goals and 8 assists in 10 matches is absolutely outrageous for a defensive midfielder, and that’s not even taking into account his incredible passing, tackling and interception numbers. Joshua Kimmich is one of the most complete midfielders in the world and deserves so much recognition for what he accomplished in Bayern Munich’s incredible year.
4. Cristiano RonaldoEmbed from Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo is 35-years old now, so it is pretty remarkable that he’s still in the conversation for best player in the world. But Ronaldo’s been a gigantic fish in a reasonably big pond for the past couple of seasons now, absolutely tearing it up in Serie A. The Portuguese forward has never let his form dip, scoring 16 goals in 14 matches between Serie A and UEFA Champions League games so far in 2020-21. With another 31 in 33 Serie A matches last year + 2 goals in 4 UEFA Nations League matches for Portugal in 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo is easily still one of the best footballers on the planet.
3. Lionel MessiEmbed from Getty Images
The lowest Lionel Messi has ever ranked on our list, much of the Argentine’s 2020 was preoccupied with discussions over his future at FC Barcelona. That was all partially out of his club’s own stubbornness than any fault of his own, but we’re pretty sure this won’t be a year that Messi looks back on and remembers too fondly. Despite that, the 33-year old did have an amazing 2019-20 campaign, scoring a remarkable 25 goals with 21 assists in 33 La Liga matches. Messi’s also managed 10 goals with 3 assists between his 18 La Liga and UEFA Champions League matches so far. It’s not his best tally, but it is still highly commendable and only one factor to his overall fantastic play for the struggling Barcelona throughout the year.
2. Kevin de BruyneEmbed from Getty Images
Despite Manchester City’s relative woes in 2020, we couldn’t overlook Kevin de Bruyne’s individual accomplishments and just how much he’s meant to City this year. The Belgian international has been absolutely incredible for club and country this year and won the PFA Player of the Year Award for the 2019-20 season. His 20 assists was enough to tie the Premier League’s record number of assists, while adding 13 goals to his tally in 35 matches was another impressive feat. The 29-year old started 2020-21 slowly by his standards, but he’s since recovered form to boast impressive stats like 12 assists in only 15 matches so far this campaign. Meanwhile, he’s been Belgium’s star performer, assisting 3 goals in 4 UEFA Nations League matches. If only City had been more successful this year, Kevin de Bruyne might have challenged for the #1 spot.
1. Robert LewandowskiEmbed from Getty Images
Normally it’s an argument between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but this year it’s undeniable that Robert Lewandowski was the best player of 2020. The 32-year old has accomplished heights that resemble Messi and Ronaldo in their prime, while winning the treble with Bayern Munich. Last season’s tally of 49 goals and 9 assists in 41 matches between UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga was absolutely outrageous. It would be hard for Lewandowski to do better in 2020-21, but he’s certainly giving it his best shot, with 20 goals and 4 assists in only 16 matches so far. Well done Robert Lewandowski, you are TheMastermindSite’s best player of 2020.
TMS’ 2020 WORLD BEST XI
GK Jan Oblak (Alisson Becker)
RB Trent Alexander-Arnold (N/A)
CB Virgil Van Dijk (Sergio Ramos)
CB David Alaba (Thiago Silva)
LB Andrew Robertson (Alphonso Davies)
DM Joshua Kimmich (Casemiro)
CM Thiago Alcantara (Bruno Fernandes)
AM Kevin de Bruyne (Thomas Muller)
RW Lionel Messi (Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe)
CF Robert Lewandowski (Neymar)
LW Cristiano Ronaldo (Sadio Mane)
So there it is! The Top 100 Male Footballers in the World (20-1). 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 see the rest of the list below! Thanks for reading and see you soon!