Welcome to Part One of the Top 50 Serie A players of the 2010/2011 season. This list is the result of 12 minds who have watched as much Serie A as their lives have allowed them to this season. Twelve minds from around the world who were asked to supply their own list of their top 25 players of the Serie A season. Not the best 25 players in Serie A today, but the best 25 players of the season. And in a year like this that should make for some surprising choices.

“What I found interesting when compliling my list was how many of the obvious names I didn’t want to put on the list, players who have been around for years and who I would have (usually) considered, the most talented players in the league, but are they the ones who performed the best this season? I think in a lot of cases they aren’t.” – Paolo Bandini

Once the lists were submitted the players were marked off the ballots by the following points system:

1st – 50 2nd – 40 3rd – 35 4th – 32 5th - 30 6th – 28 7th – 26 8th – 24 9th – 22 10th – 20 11th – 18 12th – 16 13th – 15 14th – 14 15th – 12 16th – 10 17th – 9 18th – 8 19th – 7 20th – 6 21st – 5 22nd – 4 23rd – 3 24th – 2 25th – 1.

Over 70 players in total appeared on the ballots. Joining James Sharman and myself were 10 established football writers whose work I’m sure you are more than familiar with:

The Panel

  • Gabriele Marcotti is World Football Correspondent for The Times and host of The Game podcast (available on ITunes). He can also be heard on the BBC and is a frequent contributor ESPN’s Soccernet Press Pass.  He also writes a regular column for the Wall Street Journal online, Sports Illustrated.com, the Sunday Herald and Calcio Italia magazine and contributes to the Melbourne Age, Champions magazine and Titan Sports.  He is the author of three books: Paolo Di Canio: the Autobiography, The Italian Job and Capello: Portrait of a Winner. http://twitter.com/Marcotti.
  • James Horncastle is a European Football Writer with articles published in the Guardian, Blizzard, Champions, Four Four Two, OSM + WSC. Also Guest Podder on Guardian Football Weekly. http://twitter.com/JamesHorncastle
  • Paolo Bandini covers Italian football for guardian.co.uk and Astro SuperSport, as well as The Score. http://twitter.com/Paolo_Bandini
  • Adam Digby is a freelance Italian football journalist and founder of the Il Tifosi blog where you can find links to his various columns. http://twitter.com/Adz77
  • Giancarlo Rinaldi has been writing about Italian football for 20 years since founding the fanzine Rigore! His work can currently be found at footballitalia.net, Calcio Italia magazine, Serie A Weekly and his own blog http://giancarlorinaldi.tumblr.com/. http://twitter.com/ginkers
  • John F. Molinaro is a senior reporter for CBCSports.ca. A long-time Serie A fan and observer, John has written about soccer for over 10 years and has covered some of the game’s biggest tournaments, including last year’s World Cup in South Africa. http://twitter.com/JohnMolinaro
  • Lorenzo Vicini writes for Serie A Weekly at www.serieaweekly.com and blogs about Palermo Calcio for the Palermo Offside (http://palermo.theoffside.com). In addition to that, he provides English translations to articles and interviews on Mediagol (www.mediagol.it) – the largest Italian news site dedicated to Palermo Calcio. He is a Serie A fanatic who is enamored with all things Palermo while professing the beauty of Italy and Serie A. http://twitter.com/PalermoOffside
  • Matthew Barker is a freelance journalist who writes about Italian football for a number of titles, including Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, Esquire, GQ, ITV’s website, the Observer and the occasional Italian mag. He divvies his time up between south London and Italy. A large selection of his WSC articles can be read on the magazine’s website (wsc.co.uk). http://twitter.com/matthew_barker.
  • Rocco Cammisola is a football blogger who focuses on Italian football. He has written for The Guardian, ITV and Football Italia among many others. He is always keen for a return to a 3 man defence and has a penchant for the under appreciated sides. You can find more of his work at The Football Express (http://www.thefootballexpress.co.uk/). http://twitter.com/rcammisola
  • Michael Cox grew up watching 1990s Serie A on Football Italia, which guided him towards a mindset where organised defences and tactical switches are considered more entertaining than great goals or fancy tricks. He is the sole writer at zonalmarking.net, for which he was recently given the award of Best Football Blogger in the Soccerlens Awards.He has also written for the Guardian, ITV, FourFourTwo.com, ESPN and Champions. http://twitter.com/Zonal_Marking

Top 50. Numbers 50-41

50. Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan) – The 32-year-old Serbian midfielder had an up and down season but appeared on three of the 12 ballots including Michael Cox’s, who said: “Stankovic has great versatility, scored a couple of amazing goals and picked Inter up when they were playing poorly.”

49. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lazio) – The 27-year-old defender was a model of consistency playing at right back for Lazio and appeared on four of the 12 ballots, but finished low in the poll as he was never placed higher than 21st. Cox summed up the Swiss international, saying: “He attacks well, defends well. Reliable.” Hard to ask much more from a right back.

48. Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan) – What is left to say about Zanetti that hasn’t been said already? The excellent Gabriele Marcotti, who is the reason for Zanetti being in the top 50, tries: “Maybe (my vote for him) is a bit of a sentimental choice, but “El Tractor” just doesn’t miss a beat.  Rarely puts a foot wrong and, at the end of the game, usually covers more ground than anyone. ”

47. Stefan Radu (Lazio) – Already at 24, the Romanian looks one of the most accomplished defenders in the league and not many Lazio fans are still craving for Aleksandar Kolarov. His season was cut short with a back injury in the middle of April and Lazio missed him badly. When he played Lazio conceded just 20 goals (26 starts). Was the final pick of my own top 25. Adam Digby adds: “Radu’s positional sense is immaculate and he adds much offensively too, as he must in the system the coach utilises, which would lack any width without the fullbacks contributing significantly.”

46. Domenico Criscito (Genoa) – The Italian international appeared on three ballots and one of his biggest fans was Paolo Bandini, who said of the left back: “Despite all the various tactical shifts in Genoa this season, always seems to keep his head down and do his job impeccably – whatever it may be on that given day.”

45. Davide Astori (Cagliari) – Italy has no problem finding accomplished centre backs and despite being sent off on his debut for the Azzuri this season, Astori looks like one of the best of the next generation. Lorenzo Vicini offers a great scouting report on the 24-year-old: ”A defender for the future, Astori seems ready to take the next step in his career after a superb year for Cagliari. He is a smart defender who can be relied on in any situation. Astori is a good, physical defender with strong heading abilities. His only flaw is his discipline as he can pick up cards a little too often.”

44. Mauro Zarate (Lazio) - A controversial choice for some as the Argentine spent much of the season sulking and underperforming but when he was on his game he was explosive. His place in the top 50 comes after he got just two votes that both came between 12th and 18th. John Molinaro is a fan: “Temperamental, to be sure, but an inventive and visionary creator on the field.”

43. Sebastian Giovinco (Parma) – Like Zarate, the Juventus-owned Giovinco divides opinions but his form in the second half of the season for Parma helped him break into the top 50 as Giancarlo Rinaldi felt ‘his move away from Juve helped him develop as a player’ while Paolo adds: ” He may well be too lightweight to ever be a truly world-class player, but he has relished his role as Parma’s orchestrator in chief.”

42. Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) – The Italian international was one of the most consistent performers for Juventus this season and peaked the interest of three members of the panel, including Lorenzo who raves: “Marchisio is one of the most versatile midfielders in Serie A. He can cover any midfield role and his characteristics allow him to excel in virtually any spot on the pitch. Marchisio can do just about anything as well, from passing, to defending to attacking. His talents have led him to become a Juventus and Azzurri regular.”

41. Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese) – The Ghanian international is the first of many players on this list from Udinese after his side thrilled many with their style of play this season. Matt Barker is a fan: “Had a central role in a zippy, progressive Udinese side, propelling play forward and supplying the goods to Di Natale. Love the fact he knows when to sit tight too; rarely goes giving the ball away. Easy to forget how young he is.” At 22, he is one to keep an eye on going forward.

Check the Footy Blog tomorrow for the next installment on the top 50 as players ranked 40-31 are unveilved. The top 10 will be announced on Sunday as the season comes to a close.

Kristian Jack