Happy New Year! It’s January 3rd and that means The List is back! This is the fourth installment of the Footy Blog’s comprehensive list of the Top 100 Footballers in the World, as determined by some of the world’s leading football journalists (Previous installments can be found here). The entire 19-person panel along with bios, and some background on how the names and their order was determined is here. The intuitive carnage continues! Remember; if you’re on Twitter, be sure to include us in on your outrage by using the hashtag #footy100.
70. Marco Reus (Borussia Monchengladbach and Germany) – Currently the target of both Real Madrid and Arsenal, the 22 year-old ‘Gladbach phenom has taken Europe by storm this season with ten league goals in fourteen appearances for the Bundesliga side. He has already been MOTM five times this season alone with his club, and is one of the most promising attacking midfielders on the planet. Expect his star to rise significantly in the coming years.
69. Marcelo (Real Madrid and Brazil) – Another stellar Brazilian full-back in a long line of stellar Brazilian full-backs, Marcelo is integral to Madrid’s left flank, both in defense and attack. He’s been called the best left-back in the world, and his 2010-11 breakout season saw him included in UEFA’s best European XI. Excellent dribbler, as well as distributor.
68. Maicon (Inter Milan and Brazil) – One of the underrated bright lights in Inter’s otherwise disappointing 2011-12 season, the Brazilian right back (or right wing back, if we’re being specific) has put in several dominant performances this year already despite his month-long injury absence with a thigh muscle strain. He is already in disagreement with coach Claudio Ranieri over whether Inter’s glory days are past, a testament to his dogged determination. Some believe his health is directly linked to Inter’s place in the Serie A table.
67. Antonio Cassano (AC Milan and Italy) – The fiery “jewell of Old Bari” has faced his strongest challenge yet this season with a minor stroke, related to a heart condition for which he had to undergo surgery. His return to the AC Milan side will be welcome with his contribution up front unmatched. Cassano of late has emerged as a play-maker extraordinaire, notching up an impressive tally of assists in his time with Milan. The Italian national team waits nervously to see whether he might play a part in Euro 2012.
66. Alexandre Pato (AC Milan and Brazil) – The Brazilian front man has borne weighty expectations for so long that it’s easy to forget he’s still only 22. A fifty million Euro Chelsea (and possibly PSG) target this transfer window, he scored 14 goals last Serie A season, and was integral in helping Milan to their 18th scudetto. This year has seen him struggle with injury, a disappointment considering Cassano’s absence would have given the young Brazilian forward time to shine.
65. Javier Hernández (Manchester United and Mexico) - The 23 year-old Chicharito is a staple for more discerning Man United fans, despite a few recent struggles of late and some time on the subs bench and an ankle injury. Last year he notched an impressive fourteen goals in the league on the club’s way to winning the title, in addition to four Champions League goals, a performance for which he received the Sir Matt Busby Player of Year award. He’s also a force with Mexico, and picked up the CONCACAF Golden Boot award for his play in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
64. Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid and Portugal) – Versatile in either left or right-back, as a defensive midfielder, or even as an attacking midfielder, Coentrão has emerged Mourinho’s defensive utility man. His personal ability on the ball gives part of the reason why; he’s one of the club’s best tacklers, in addition to being an intelligent passer and play-maker. At age 23, his career in defense will slowly rise; look to the rest of the world discovering him in earnest during Euro 2012.
63. Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal and Belgium) – Forced into playing some unfamiliar positions due to Arsenal’s injury pile-up this season (he too succumbed with a calf strain which will force Wenger into shopping the transfer market this month), the 26 year-old Vermaelen has the promise to go down as one of Arsenal’s best central defenders since Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Martin Keown. As well known for his composure off the ball as a leader as he is on it, Vermaelen is also a keen reader of the game, able to break up plays with one or two simple interceptions.
62. Neven Subotić (Borussia Dortmund and Serbia) – Often compared to his Man United counterpart Nemanja Vidic, the 23 year-old Serbian centre-back was a key reason for Dortmund’s Bundesliga-winning performance last season. He’s been reportedly linked with both Liverpool and Man United this transfer window, and if the club wants to keep hopes alive for a repeat this year, they’d be wise to turn down the money.
61. Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast) – Never write-off the Drogs. Despite question marks over how he would adapt to Andre Villas-Boas’ very un-Mourinho-like tactics, and hounded by rumours he would leave England for a retirement party in MLS, Drogba has returned as a force for Chelsea this year, scoring his 150th goal for the club against Aston Villa in a losing effort. While at 33 his future with Chelsea is uncertain, but his name as one of the club’s most prolific strikers is secure.