A Definitive Ranking Of The World’s Greatest Soccer Players In 2020
These soccer stars have worked tirelessly to achieve the heights of success on the pitch that they have. But there’s one accomplishment that eludes most of them — the privilege of being called the best. After all, healthy competition is what makes this world go round. So now it’s time for a proper reckoning: how do the greatest soccer players in the world rank up against one another, and what have they done to master their skill?
25. Jadon Sancho
Sometimes the best players in sports aren’t the ones who score all the goals, but rather the playmakers who make it all possible. Jadon Sancho, the English prodigy who plays midfield for the German squad Borussia Dortmund, was actually labeled the “Assist King” for his knack for setting up his teammates to score.
Within the Bundesliga league, a title is within the realm of possibility for a player of his talents, and that’s the goal that he and his teammates are still striving towards. Although Sancho has still much to learn as an individual player, his young age suggests that he may one day jump up a handful of spots on the rankings.
24. Timo Werner
Another youngster making a name for himself is Timo Werner. Originally from Stuttgart, Germany, Werner has a killer instinct on the offensive end that’s hard for any defender to stop. But his outstanding performances on the field aren’t just helping his teammates — they’re also breaking records.
In fact, when Werner made his professional soccer debut back in 2013, he became the youngest-ever player to score a goal for VfB Stuttgart. These days, he plays for RB Leipzig, and he too has his eyes set on a Bundesliga title. This accomplishment would surely set him apart from his peers. At the very least, a title would prove to the world that Werner isn’t just about the flash, but also about team success.
23. Paulo Dybala
This past 2019-2020 season was an important one for soccer players around the world. For Argentinian Paulo Dybala, it was his chance to show the world that he’s the real deal. Up until now, the Juventus forward has wowed soccer fans with his creative talents on the field, but also left much to be desired.
In order to become the best of the best, a player must retain a level of consistency that so many stars lack. After struggling slightly in the 2018-2019 season, this was Dybala’s opportunity to prove that he’s got the full package — and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how he responds to the hefty challenge.
22. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
After the legendary soccer coach Arsène Wenger said goodbye to Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was forced to pick up the broken pieces. Considered to be one of the best strikers on the planet, Aubameyang does all he can to uplift the squad, but his task is far from easy.
Soccer, like all team sports, requires a level of cohesiveness and depth that unfortunately not all teams can muster. Nevertheless, Aubameyang’s outstanding abilities as a finisher and off-ball mover show promise for Arsenal. Whether or not they manage to win the English Premier League title, viewers will continue to tune in regardless simply to watch him play.
21. Sergi Roberto
The unsung heroes of not just soccer, but sports in general, are the persistent defenders. In the case of Sergi Roberto, his lockdown mentality is one of the cornerstones of his game. Coaches and fellow teammates love him for it, because Roberto often proves himself to be an opponent’s absolute nightmare.
That being said, the Spanish midfielder isn’t just known for his defensive skills. Like most players of that position, he’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades, and a major asset to any team he plays for. With already some hardware accolades under his belt, Roberto looks to help Barcelona win yet another title.
20. Dele Alli
Dele Alli entered the English Premier League with a ton of raw talent, but people were a bit skeptical that his innate abilities would translate to real team success. But when his team, the Tottenham Hotspurs, hired their new coach, José Mourinho, something flipped inside Alli.
It was like he had finally found the perfect mentor, and the result was a much more complete player. Alli began to dominate virtually every game he played in, and emerged as the number one leader on the Hotspurs. Toggling between midfielder and forward, Alli is a multi-talented threat who’s on the rise to become one of the best soccer players out there, and no opponent wants to meet him when the game is on the line.
19. Marcelo Da Silva
Here’s one player who’s already amassed a handful of accolades to his name. During his ten plus years playing for Real Madrid, Marcelo has helped them achieve tournament titles, including the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League as well. In addition, fans have always loved him for his sheer tenacity on defense.
For this 2019-2020 season, Marcelo hopes that he can help add new trophies to Real Madrid’s legacy, but his road will be extremely hard this time around. With the competition as steep as it’s ever been, he’ll have to dig deep in order to rally his team above the rest.
18. Riyad Mahrez
As we start to get a little bit higher on this list, it starts to get a bit harder to find any weaknesses in these players. Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez is certainly a great example of someone who can pretty much do it all — which is probably why he was the recent runner-up for African Player of the Year.
However, one of Mahrez’s biggest accomplishments was probably helping his team earn the coveted domestic treble in the English Premier League this past season. In other words, Mahrez has shown that he knows what it takes to actually win, as opposed to just fishing for “instant replay” glory.
17. Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez might hail from Salto, Uruguay, but he’s making Spanish citizens proud that he plays on their team, FC Barcelona. In fact, he’s the all-time leading goalscorer from Uruguay, making him pretty much a national treasure back home. Nevertheless, Suárez has millions of fans all around the world, especially considering how popular Barcelona’s soccer team is.
Unfortunately, he recently injured his right knee, which made his push for the title this year moot. However, his supporters can’t wait to see how he comes back stronger than ever. Some people use injuries as an opportunity to improve weak aspects of their game, and hopefully Suárez will make that his mindset as he rises to be one of the best soccer players of his generation.
16. Harry Kane
Another player for the Tottenham Hotspurs is Harry Kane, a striker with no mercy. Of course, Kane hasn’t been able to utilize his talents much lately, given that he’s been sidelined with a hamstring injury. But this injury wasn’t powerful enough to purge him from his secure seat as one of the most formidable footballers out there — and for good reason.
One of his biggest accomplishments was winning the esteemed “Golden Boot” award during the 2018 World Cup, cementing himself as one of the world’s top soccer players. Naturally fans have now expected him to dominate every time he touches the ball — but he’ll have his work cut out for him once he returns officially.
15. Sergio Agüero
Sergio Agüero started off 2020 on a high note when he achieved the twelfth hat trick of his entire career. But this feat was even more impressive because no other English Premier League player has ever achieved that many hat tricks. A Manchester City forward originally from Argentina, he has yet to win a Champion League title, which of course has made the desire to win it only that much stronger.
However, Agüero has a handful of trophies to his name, including a handful of English Premier League titles. Agüero is one of the greatest goalscorers the EPL has ever seen, but he likely won’t be satisfied until he manages to win a Champions League title as well.
14. Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt hasn’t been playing for Juventus for very long, but it’s safe to say he’s become a fan favorite pretty quickly. De Ligt might not be the one to score the final goal, but he’s the one making sure the other team is locked down.
In fact, it was his exceptional defensive prowess that got the attention of Cristiano Ronaldo, who convinced him to join his team in the first place. The winner of the 2019 Copa Trophy, De Ligt is making a name for defenders, inspiring other players to constantly embrace that team-first attitude. Look for him to continue helping Juventus achieve their goals, even though the road will be surely difficult.
13. Luka Modrić
It’s a testament to Real Madrid that they have so many players on this list, and Luka Modrić’s placement isn’t a big surprise. A crucial part of his team, he helped Real Madrid claim the La Liga title, as well as the Champions League title, a handful of times.
However, Modrić is also a national legend back in his home country of Croatia, which he’s represented a number of times on the Croatia national team. Although Modrić’s main talents are that of a playmaker, he’s also burned many defenders with his unexpected midfield attacks. All in all, this guy is the consummate team player, which speaks well to his past teams’ success.
12. Kevin De Bruyne
Many have dubbed Kevin De Bruyne as a “complete soccer player”, and that’s because there really isn’t much he can’t do. A supreme ball handler, shooter, and passer as well, he has complete control over anything he does on the field. There are many people who consider De Bruyne to be one of the best midfielders in the English Premier League.
After joining Manchester City, the Belgian star has slowly but surely cemented himself as a household name in 2020, with an EPL trophy to back it up. The amount of awards he’s won is staggering, including Premier League Playmaker of the Season, the two-time Manchester City Player of the Year, and many others.
11. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski didn’t win five Bundesliga titles by being a slouch. One of the top scorers of all time, the Polish forward is known for his outstanding technique and knack for finishing around the goal. Lewandowski always seems to know exactly where to be on the field at exactly the right time.
But more importantly, he knows how to handle the big opportunities when they come knocking. Many consider the Bayern Munich forward to be one of the best strikers of his generation, if not of all time. With all of his accomplishments, however, he still seeks to win his first UEFA Champions League title.
10. Virgil Van Dijk
We’ve talked a lot about important defenders on this list, but Virgil Van Dijk is arguably the greatest. There aren’t many people who can even remotely stop legends like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but Van Dijk sure gave them both a good run for their money.
Recognized for his abilities, the Dutch star earned the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award, and was also dubbed the world’s best defender in 2019. He also helped Liverpool with the UEFA Champions League in 2019, a feat that many prominent players have yet to accomplish. It might not sell tickets, but defense is what wins games.
9. Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah embarked on a rampage of sorts ever since joining Liverpool. In the 2017-2018, Salah was sure that it was their year to bring home the crown; but after suffering from a dislocated shoulder, his dream that year was shattered. However, Salah bounced back the subsequent year to help Liverpool win the Champions League once and for all.
Although their squad was quite formidable, Salah, hailing from Egypt, was one of their primary leaders — and an offensive general who was quite hard to stop. However, Salah is still missing an English Premier Title, so look for him to push hard to reach that goal over the next few years.
8. Frenkie De Jong
Frenkie De Jong is yet another star who plays for Barcelona, although he originally hails from the Netherlands. De Jong is known for being a creative playmaker and an assertive player — or, a “coach’s dream”, if you will. But being effective on the soccer field is about more than just knowing the X’s and O’s.
In order to succeed in professional sports, you need to have that “it” quality, and De Jong’s ability to frequently come through in the clutch is the reason he’s so respected among his peers. He looks to cement his leadership even further with a strong run for the La Liga title this year.
7. Antoine Griezmann
When Antoine Griezmann made his La Liga debut back in 2014, fans were undoubtedly ecstatic over this young new recruit. But they would have no way of knowing what Griezmann would go on to accomplish over the next few years, winning one award after another.
But while Griezmann has destroyed many records in the more local leagues, one of his greatest accolades took place on the international scale. A Frenchman at his root, Griezmann represented France in the 2018 World Cup, and helped lead them to victory over Croatia. For the cherry on top, Griezmann won the esteemed Silver Boot award in the tournament.
6. Eden Hazard
Belgium is most proud to have Eden Hazard coming from their ranks, representing their country on the grandest of stages. A forward for the formidable Real Madrid, Hazard is certainly a hazard for any opponent who tries to get in his way when he’s on a drive. Some consider him to be among the top five best soccer players in the entire world, although this topic is obviously heavily debated.
On the field, he’s especially known for his exceptional speed and acceleration, and his ability to easily control the ball while zooming through opponents. Since joining Real Madrid, he looks to be a major component of their attack this year.
5. Sadio Mané
Sadio Mané was recently awarded the title of African Footballer of the Year in 2019, after a season that silenced all the doubters. Liverpool was a squad that had massive amounts of potential, but Mané was there to make sure that their talent wasn’t squandered to bad decision-making and lack of focus.
In fact, it was Liverpool teammate Fabinho who praised Mané for playing with “high levels of intensity and concentration”. Further adding to his adoration, another Liverpool player Jamie Carragher described Mané as a “world class winger”. He specializes in speed, goalscoring, and creativity, but it appears there’s honestly pretty much nothing he can’t do.
4. Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé has been showing the world he can run with the big boys since he was just a teenager. In fact, Mbappé was only 19 years old when he helped his French national team win the 2018 World Cup. It was his outstanding performance on the biggest stage on earth that made him an instant fan favorite.
But Mbappé was far from done writing his story. Since then, he’s dominated the Ligue 1 while playing for Paris Saint-Germain, and he currently seeks his first UEFA Champions League title. Considering how young he is, we wouldn’t be surprised if he accomplishes that feat sooner rather than later.
3. Neymar Jr.
By now you must have caught wind that we’ve stumbled upon the Mount Rushmore of the best international soccer players in 2020. Living comfortably in this atmosphere is Neymar Jr., the Paris Saint-Germain forward who was once described as “a true phenomenon” by soccer insiders.
With the prodigious skill to attack the goal from virtually anywhere on the field, he’s a nightmare for any team to play against. Known for his creativity, vision, and “electric” playing style, he has spoken of his strong work ethic in detail: “I’m always trying to perfect everything — dribbling, shooting, headers and control. You can always improve.”
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has been making a strong case for himself as the best soccer player in the world for a long time now. Many people believe he’s already stolen the crown, while many others say that the next person on this list still holds it firmly. Regardless, it’s unanimously agreed the world over that Ronaldo is one of the greatest soccer players of all time, with five Ballon d’Or awards to boot, among other things.
As his former manager Alex Ferguson said of him, “His decision-making, his maturity, his experience, plus all the great skills he has got, they all make him the complete player.” For good measure, Ronaldo was the only player to score a hat trick in the World Cup, the English league, the Italian league, and the Spanish league.
1. Lionel Messi
The only player in history to win six Ballon d’Or awards, many consider Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world. In fact, some even say he’s the greatest player of all time. His crown isn’t easily accessed, while many have tried — and it’s because of his countless accomplishments.
A ten-time La Liga winner and four-time Champions League winner, no one questions Messi’s legendary winner’s mentality. But beyond the psychological aspect of winning, this Argentinean demigod’s level of technical skill is nothing short of extraordinary. He controls the ball and weaves through his opponents with absolute ease, making it easy for him to score and set up goals.