The Best Football Players
Terry Clarke explains who the best football players in the world are.
Coming to a consensus on the best players in the world can be difficult, as there are so many top-class athletes at the very top of the game in Europe and worldwide. The following four stars are currently ahead of the rest in terms of their ability to lift a side to glory:
Lionel Messi, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, has dominated the conversation about the world's best for more than a decade now. Messi is renowned for his exceptional dribbling, agility, and finishing skills. The diminutive Argentinian is a Barcelona legend, having scored 552 goals in 636 games and has won the game's biggest honours, including the Champions League.
However, perseverance and training have been crucial in Messi's meteoric rise from the back streets of his hometown of Rosario to world stardom. The 30-year-old struggled with a growth hormone deficiency during childhood, but medical treatment after relocating to Spain saw him fast-tracked through Barca's youth academy. He eventually debuted as a teenager, and the rest is history. Messi has won five Ballon d'Or awards and holds several records, including the most goals in a calendar year (91) and a single season in Europe (73).
Cristiano Ronaldo is another player who has worked exceptionally hard to maximise his potential. A move to the Red Devils in 2003 was the beginning of a trophy-laden journey in European football. Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League before completing a then-record $107 million switch to Real Madrid in 2009. The Portuguese star also had health issues as a youngster but came through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon, where he caught the eye of Manchester United.
The 33-year-old has been breaking records ever since. His goal return at the Bernabeu is staggering: he has found the net 449 times in 436 games. Ronaldo has also won two La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies during his almost decade-long stay in Madrid. Unlike Messi, he has even tasted success at an international level after winning the 2016 European Championships with Portugal.
Ronaldo is renowned for his incredible training ethic, so it is no surprise that fitness enthusiasts have been eager to uncover his secrets. The star striker begins with a few warm-up exercises before advancing to more intensive workouts. He says: "In training, we do a few laps of the pitch, stretching, and cardio warm-up exercises. Make sure you do something similar in your training, whether jogging to the gym or a warm-up on the treadmill or bicycle." Ronaldo also believes mixing cardiovascular and weight training is best to improve all body areas and keep things interesting.
Mo Salah is the man of the moment, after enjoying an incredible breakout season with Liverpool in the Premier League. The Egyptian scored a record 32 goals during the 2017/18 season and has been instrumental in the club's run to the Champions League final, where they will face European giants Real Madrid. Unlike Messi and Ronaldo, Salah's star has taken a little longer to shine, but he now rivals that famous duo with his exceptional skill, control, and eye for goal.
Salah began his career in Egypt with El Mokawloon, where he spent two years before moving to Basel and then Chelsea. Salah did not prosper at Stamford Bridge but finally came into his own in Italy with Fiorentina and Roma. Liverpool paid a relatively modest sum to secure his services last summer, and he has quickly emerged as one of the world's best in his complete forward role. Salah will go against Ronaldo in the Champions League final later this month, and both will be favourites to score in sports betting markets.
Neymar is now the world's most expensive player after PSG paid $262 million to buy the Brazilian from Barcelona last summer. The skilful attacker has hit the ground running in Ligue 1, scoring 28 goals in 30 games, but Champions League glory eluded him during his debut season after the French side crashed out in the last 16. There are now rumours that the 26-year-old could move to Real Madrid in the summer.
Neymar honed his skills on the streets as a youth before joining Santos FC. A move to Barcelona followed in 2013, and he won the Champions League 18 months later. Like Messi and Salah, Neymar has a great dribbling ability, though he is arguably even more skilful and reliant on tricks, turns, and swivels than the other two. Neymar's training is focused on improving his acceleration, balance, and power.
Best of the rest
Attackers are grabbing the world headlines, but Kevin de Bruyne, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Paulo Dybala in midfield, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos in defence. Manuel Neuer and Jan Oblak in goal are worthy mentions when discussing the world's best.
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About the Author
Terry Clarke has a keen interest in English football and favours the Premier League.