Getting closer to the Top 50! This is the fifth 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. Remember; if you’re on Twitter, be sure to include us in on your outrage by using the hashtag #footy100.
60. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli and Argentina) – One third of Napoli’s famous “three tenors” up front, Lavezzi remains one of the Serie A club’s highest-rated players. El Pocho‘s dribbling ability and skill on set pieces in particular are part of the reason for the club’s return to their form of old, especially last season in which he scored six goals and earned an impressive twelve assists.
59. Edin Džeko (Manchester City and Bosnia & Herzegovina) – While his finishing has come under criticism as of late, Džeko’s promise is evident for all to see. Two time Bosnian player of the year winner, his production rate with Wolfsburg has been phenomenal, and despite a recent slow-down he has 10 league goals to his name this year already.
58. Mario Balotelli (Manchester City and Italy) – As sensational off the pitch as he is on it, Balotelli has a habit of making his puritanical critics look like fools. Super Mario’s statistics tell the story—two man of the match performances already this season, eight goals in eleven league appearances, a contributor in defense, FA Cup MOTM. The rest is just entertaining tabloid fodder in a country where the stiff upper lip is valued above all else.
57. Robinho (AC Milan and Brazil) – Fourteen goals last season with Milan, excellent in possession and an astute passer of the ball, the 27 year-old Brazilian was a key part of AC Milan’s championship-winning Serie A season in 2010-11. Though this season has been marked by an inconsistency in front of goal, he is still a much-discussed transfer target.
56. Eric Abidal (Barcelona and France) – Winner of best defender last season in the LFP awards, Eric Abidal is the unsung hero behind Barcelona’s European dominance. Fluent in the language of possession football, Abidal’s best defense is his intelligence rather than brute force, finding the key pass in order to both turn the direction away from goal but also create the next attack. A marvel to watch for the football connoisseur.
55. Victor Valdés (Barcelona and Spain) – Winner of the Zamora trophy for the last five seasons awarded to the La Liga keeper with the lowest goals-to-game ratio in the league, Valdés is the perfect archetype of the modern European keeper. His commitment to holding onto the ball rather than mindlessly punting it to safety is one of his hallmarks, and his subtle play, rather than a YouTube reel of flashy saves (although he’s made many) is perhaps one of the reasons he isn’t valued more in the Spanish national team.
54. Ashley Cole (Chelsea and England) – While his star has faded slightly in the last few months, Ashley Cole will still go down as one of England’s all-time best left-backs. His passing ability is unparalleled, with an impressive six assists to his name already this season. Two-time winner of the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year award, his contribution is highly regarded by his Chelsea teammates, and his international retirement will a major dilemma for the England squad.
53. Juan Mata (Chelsea and Spain) – This season Chelsea and Premier League fans have discovered what La Liga and Valencia fans have known for a while—Juan Mata’s presence on the wing can change match outcomes. Brilliant passer, smart finisher, excellent on the ball, Mata has scored four goals and earned nine assists this season. He’s an integral part of Andre Villas-Boas’ vision for the club, and is certain to earn his place as one of Chelsea FC’s most gifted young talents at a mere 23 years of age.
52. Patrice Evra (Manchester United and France) – Widely regarded as one of, if not the world’s best left-back’s, Evra’s presence on Manchester United has been integral to their continued superiority in the Premier League. Named on the PFA Premier League team of the year on three separate occasions, the thirty year-old defender still has some excellent years ahead of him.
51. Hulk (Porto and Brazil) – ‘Hulk’ is one of football’s better nickname, given to Givanildo Vieira de Souza for both his stocky, muscular frame as a forward but also to his resemblance to Lou Ferrigno. Integral to Porto’s staggering league, domestic cup and UEFA Cup-winning 2010-11 season in which he finished as Super Liga’s top scorer with 23 goals in 26 games, at 25 years-old he is one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe, with seven goals and seven assists to his name already this season.