1. Lionel Messi
Five time World Player of the Year, The Barcelona forward and Argentina International, Lionel Messi, has been considered by some as the best player on the planet over the last eight years.
His ability to mesmerize defenders with a mix of skill and pace is unmatched and it often appears as though the ball is glued to his feet. The Barcelona star is versatile enough to play anywhere across the frontline, and he led his country to the 2014 World Cup final. A serial winner with his club and one of the best soccer players of all time.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo may have less of an influence on games than Messi, but he is stronger and taller than the Argentine, and his goals-to-games ratio similar.
Since joining Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009, Ronaldo has been a revelation, making the world record outlay of US$131 look less outrageous with every hat-trick. His famous stopover is imitated in parks right across the world.
3. Luis Suarez
The Barcelona striker’s ability is not up for debate. Suarez is a master at weaving his way into the penalty box, deadly in one-on-one situations and an excellent free-kick taker.
His link-up play with teammates is of the highest order, and he is a fighter who will always give 100% for the cause. A penchant for conning referees remains his Achilles heel, but that did not stop Barca from paying Liverpool US$128.5 million for the player in July 2014. He quickly helped them to the treble.
After taking a year to bed in at Camp Nou after his move from Santos, Neymar has really come into his own to emerge as one of the best strikers in the world.
The Brazilian has scored more goals than Messi and Ronaldo at the same stage of their careers and has the capacity to be the very best once Messi’s career begins to wind down.
Alongside the Argentina and Suarez, he forms one of the best-attacking line-ups in the history of the sport, and his rare talent means Brazil are over reliant on him at international level.
5. Sergio Aguero
A consummate finisher, Aguero has been key in the two title wins under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, scoring that famous late winner against QPR in 2012 to seal the Premier League.
Quick, with an excellent first touch and ability to bring others into play, the Argentine has few weaknesses and is arguably the best signing since Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United group in 2008.
6. Manuel Neuer
Hands down the best goalkeeper in the world, Neuer shows confidence in everything he does.
Bayern fans were not initially convinced when the club signed him from Schalke in 2011, but there are few doubters around the Allianz Arena these days.
Neuer is superb in one-on-one situations and capable of stunning reflex saves. He is also good technically and boasts excellent distribution.
7. Gareth Bale
The Welsh attacker enjoyed an excellent first season at the Bernabeu after completing his long-awaited move to Real Madrid in September 2013.
The 2014-15 season was not so kind and Bale came in for criticism from the fans and press but he is a supreme dribbler who boasts the pace and skill to beat multiple opponents. He is also a great finisher and capable of scoring consistently from long range.
Bale’s goal against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final is one of his career highlights.
8. Arjen Robben
The winger further enhanced his glowing reputation with some impressive showings for Holland at the 2014 World Cup.
Robben’s deadly combination of pace and trickery is a nightmare for defenders, while he scores more goals than the average winger.
Robben has been at the top of the game for 10 years now, having had stints with Chelsea, Real Madrid and current club Bayern Munich. Injuries are the one thing holding him back.
9. Andres Iniesta
Now into his 30s, Iniesta does not quite exude the influence he did but remains one of the classiest midfielders in the game.
The short, eye-of-the-needle passing he produces can pierce holes in even the most stubborn of rear guards.
Iniesta is also very modest, never creating problems for the coaches he works under.
Scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands and has helped Barca to two trebles in 2009 and 2015.
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Expect the unexpected with the mercurial Swede. Ibrahimovic is the moodiest player in world soccer, but completely unplayable when on his game.
Just witness his stunning overhead kick against England in 2012. Ibra has won league titles in Holland, Italy, Spain and France with six different clubs and is currently with England giants, Manchester United.