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The Golazo 100 is here, in full, CBS Sports' attempt to ask a question that might be more contentious now than it has been at any stage for well over a decade. Who is the best men's football player? For so long, an exercise such as this would have seemed utterly redundant. There was really nothing to debate when it came to the question who is the greatest footballer on the planet. What a waste of hours and spreadsheets it would be to present to you all that Lionel Messi is the best in the business.

Now, however, the sport is in a transitional period. The great man and his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo have begun their post-imperial projects, spreading the game out to its footballing backwaters. Those who were cursed to pursue greatness in the Messi age now find their lights are dimming too. As for those that follow, how can anyone hope to reach a bar raised so high?

The answer might just be that no one can but we found ourselves with a sizeable number of heirs to the throne when more than 30 experts from across CBS Sports were handed a straightforward task: Give us the best you've got. We will ask the same of them later in the year when it comes to the women's sport. In the men's game, however, there was quite a spread. Eight players were voted the best in the sport. While a clear winner did ultimately emerge, that is quite the spread given the size of the panel.

Golazo 100 in detail

Be sure to tune into Golazo Network, including Morning Footy to start your day with a breakdown of each batch of top players released every day. And, of course, make sure to check out the full breakdown and analysis of who was ranked where and why.

It is no great surprise that so many players had a convincing candidacy. It took nearly 18 months for anyone to beat Rodri in a football match. Vinicius Junior has just delivered for Real Madrid in the biggest game in football, again. Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe continue to top the continent's scoring charts.

None of these offer an iron clad candidacy to be the best of the best. Does it matter that all of Kane's many goals have not yet contributed to club or international silverware? Can the greatest in the game play the bulk of his football in a league whose competitive balance has been nerfed by his employers? Have Vinicius and Jude Bellingham spent long enough near the summit to make the last step? Is the year after the year an appropriate moment to acclaim Manchester City's Rodri, Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne?

For some of our panel these questions will have proven to be more persuasive. All of those mentioned above -- and a great many others who will sit in the top 20 -- have delivered moments of transcendent brilliance in this past season and beyond. It's just that the guy before them did that all the time.

In a fashion that only Pele and Diego Maradona have done before, Messi changed the parameters of greatness in football. None of the greats that occupy the top of the sport have a season to compare with 73 goals and 32 assists in 60 games. None of them have eight Ballon d'Ors, 12 domestic titles, a World Cup won by force of will and the 2023 Leagues Cup. None are going to match Messi.

That's where the fun lies. There are no locks anymore. When we repeat this exercise in a year's time Mbappe, Vinicius and Bellingham's collective brilliance might have spoiled their case for individual greatness a la the Kevin Durant-era Golden State Warriors. Age might have caught Kane and De Bruyne. Bukayo Saka, Florian Wirtz, Rafael Leao: All those and many more might take the last great leap. For the first time in a generation, the title of best in the world is there to be grasped.

Don't miss CBS Sports Golazo Network's Morning Footy, now in podcast form! Our crew brings you all the news, views, highlights and laughs you need to follow the Beautiful Game in every corner of the globe, every Monday-Friday all year long.

Golazo 100 Men's List


1. Kylian Mbappe -- Forward, Real Madrid

The French superstar is rarely far away from the headlines and he somehow managed to turn the focus away from Real Madrid's 15th UEFA Champions League title and towards himself in the 48 hours following the Spanish giants' win over Borussia Dortmund in the Wembley final. Kylian Mbappe is the best player in soccer now without doubt and his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to Los Blancos underlines that status despite the Ligue 1 champions falling just short in their own quest for European glory which could compromise his hopes of a first Ballon d'Or. The 25-year-old signs off at Parc des Princes with a league and Coupe de France double as well as another string of individual accolades and records set, but the time is right for Mbappe to move on from Le Championnat and for the domestic scene to be about more than just one single player. With 44 goals and seven assists across all competitions, the former AS Monaco man's final season in his homeland was a successful one and this summer's UEFA Euro 2024 could offer a shot at Mbappe's first title as France national team captain in Germany. The jury is still out on whether or not we see Les Bleus' talisman at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris, but one thing is now certain: Mbappe's future will be in Real white and expectations for the coming years at Santiago Bernabeu have been set extremely high with the Frenchman's arrival years in the making. -- Jonathan Johnson

2. Vinicius Junior -- Left Wing, Real Madrid

The Brazilian superstar could be the next Ballon d'Or winner. And at 23 years of age, that's scary for the rest of the world and fans of teams that aren't Real Madrid and Brazil. The fantastic former Flamengo man had his best ever season with Real Madrid this campaign, scoring a career-high 24 goals in 39 games. He's got at least 22 goals in his last three seasons and has now scored in Real's last two Champions League final appearances. Neck and neck with Kylian Mbappe and Jude Bellingham for that Ballon d'Or, one would think, it may all come down to continental glory this summer. Vini Jr. is a sure-fire starter for Brazil as they look to reclaim the South American throne, and they'll have as good a shot as anybody with him leading the way in attack. His speed, his technical ability, that charisma and flair, no player has embodied that samba stardom like Vini Jr. since probably the early days of Neymar's career. You can make the argument that his club form is up there with Neymar at his best, but where he'll need to improve to be next year's top dog is on the international level. Three goals in 28 games for Brazil won't cut it, but this summer is his best chance yet to become the face of the Selecao and return them to glory. -- Roger Gonzalez

3. Jude Bellingham -- Midfield, Real Madrid

Birmingham City don't look so daft retiring that No.22 now, do they? In the four years since Bellingham traded the Black Country for the Ruhr Valley he has fulfilled that famed promise to his youth coach that he would be a 10, an eight and a four in one package. In his final year with Borussia Dortmund he was the tempo-dictating, ball-progressing player of the season in the Bundesliga. On his arrival at Real Madrid he plugged the great hole that Carlo Ancelotti had at center forward, weighing in with a big goal whenever required on his road to La Liga's player of the season. When Vinicius Junior returned to full fitness and form, Bellingham became the man to bring balance to Madrid taking on a heftier midfield role.

Even some of the greats around him on this list require their team to play in a certain fashion. You can't have Erling Haaland and not reorient tactically to get him shots. Even Kylian Mbappe's presence is going to require you to make allowances defensively. Bellingham requires no such adjustments. Quite the opposite, Bellingham might be the most malleable elite player in the world right now. And Madrid have more than a decade to bend him to their will. This year could be the start of a beautiful friendship. -- James Benge

4. Erling Haaland -- Forward, Manchester City

It might be hard to pinpoint when exactly the lore began, but one can trace it as far back as 2019, when a 19-year-old Erling Haaland scored nine goals against Honduras while representing Norway's U-20 team. The stories about his scoring escapades have barely stopped since.

Haaland's pace may have slowed somewhat during the 2023-24 season, partially through injury, but as far as sophomore slumps in the Premier League go, 38 goals in 45 games is not bad at all. Haaland picked up a second successive golden boot alongside his Premier League winners' medal and also led the league in expected goals, shots and shots on target, demonstrating that he is still worth the hype, even if he was not as sensational as he was during his breakout season in England.

At just 23, Haaland has already proved that he is his generation's greatest striker. It may not have been enough for him to earn top honors in the Golazo 100, but he stands to be in the conversation for individual accolades for years to come. -- Pardeep Cattry

5. Rodri -- Midfield, Manchester City

The undefeated streak may be over after 74 games across nearly 18 months. There is, however, no greater affirmation of Rodri's quality than the sheer difficulty Spain and Manchester City had losing in a low-scoring, high variance sport when the most authoritative midfielder was on the field. That sheer undefeatability was one of the reasons that this particular writer had him No.1 on his ballot but there is more to Rodri than just limiting the threat of defeat.

For a midfield anchor he has a rather outsized impact on winning. He averages roughly a goal every four appearances. When he does score it tends to be in the biggest moments: breaking West Ham's resolve on the final day of the Premier League season, a crucial strike against Aston Villa two years earlier and, of course, the goal that ended City's wait for the Champions League crown. When there's silverware up for grabs, Rodri tends to make a big intervention. Honestly I wouldn't be entirely shocked if he nabs this prize at the death. -- Chuck Booth

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6. Harry Kane -- Forward, Bayern Munich

Harry Kane may actually be allergic to silverware after coming to Bayern Munich and seeing their 11-year run of winning the Bundesliga come to a close, but it certainly wasn't due to lack of trying on Kane's end as the England international had one of the most impressive debut seasons statistically of anyone to move to a new club. Kane did nothing but score and assist goals consistently with 44 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. There is no one in the world who can find the back of the net like Kane while also setting up their teammates and even with chaos surrounding him he was consistently excellent for Bayern Munich.

Now entering the summer with England being one of the favorites to win the Euros, the pressure will again be on Kane to lead his team to the promised land. While his window for silverware isn't one that's closing anytime soon, it has to be something that he thinks about and it feels like that once one team trophy hits Kane's hands, more will quickly follow. -- Chuck Booth

7. Kevin De Bruyne -- Midfield, Manchester City

Manchester City might have fallen short in their quest to defend their UEFA Champions League title and also lost the FA Cup final to bitter rivals United, but they still got another Premier League title across the line which makes that six EPL crowns for the Belgium international. Kevin De Bruyne might no longer be at the peak of his physical form after a season marked by various different injuries which restricted his game time under Pep Guardiola, but the 32-year-old remains a class act and almost unrivaled in his technical brilliance. The City schemer still managed six goals and 12 assists across all competitions and will captain the Red Devils at UEFA Euro 2024 this summer as one of -- if not the -- most influential players on Domenico Tedesco's roster. De Bruyne is now being linked with a move to Saudi Arabia, which is understandable given the uncertainty over Guardiola's future, but also City's current squad needing some fresh blood in certain positions so a move away from Etihad Stadium should not be ruled out. The Belgian himself is certainly not ruling anything out regarding his future so expect that to be an intriguing subplot during what promises to be an eventful summer. -- Jonathan Johnson

8. Phil Foden -- Winger/Midfield, Manchester City

Winning the Premier League player of the year, Phil Foden has officially arrived. Stepping up when Kevin De Bruyne was injured and then being among the first to score critical goals for City, Foden has repaid the faith that Pep Guardiola has had in him over the years. Growing by the day, there's a chance that sooner than later Foden could become the first English player to win the Ballon d'Or since Michael Owen in 2001 (provided somebody further up this list doesn't do it first). The numbers speak for themselves with 27 goals and 11 assists in all competitions being quite the output for a midfielder and in winning the Premier League Foden has already captured his 17th club trophy by the age of 24 which is quite a collection. It can be easy to take those for granted, but over the past few seasons he has been one of the main reasons for City's success. There's no limit to how high Foden can rise a as he has a fearless style that no one can stop when he decides to go for goal, and in fairness, he's right. Shooting first and asking questions later isn't a bad way to roll around the pitch. -- Chuck Booth

9. Mohamed Salah -- Right Wing, Liverpool

Salah's season may have been defined by injuries as he had to pull out of the Africa Cup of Nations for Egypt and missed seven matches for Liverpool due to hamstring and muscular issues, but when available, Salah confirmed one thing -- he still one of the best scorers and creators that the Premier League has seen. The fact that 25 goals and 14 assists is just an average season for Salah now shows just how high standards are for the Egyptian. Now entering a new era at Liverpool under Arnie Slot, it will be a chance for a new challenge for Salah as it will truly be his Liverpool team after Jurgen Klopp's departure. How that goes will be largely down to Salah's performances, but as we've seen, there's no reason to doubt him for moving Liverpool forward. The Reds already saw a season during which they had a chance at a quadruple end with no silverware and that's enough to fuel them especially as they return to Champions League play during the next season. -- Chuck Booth

10. Lautaro Martinez -- Forward, Inter

The 26-year-old Argentina international just finished his sixth straight season of at least 19 goals at Inter Milan, putitng away 27 this season, 24 of which came in Serie A. The quick, versatile former Racing Club man can dominate in a variety of ways, but it's his agility and ability to get off quick shots that make him a prolific goalscorer. On the verge of entering his prime, it surely feels like some 30-goal seasons are on the horizon for him, and that is what may be keeping him from being higher on this list. His lack of scoring in Champions League and serving more as a backup for his national team see him failing to reach the heights many think he can, at least for now. But there is no shortage of potential there. Is he a player who doesn't deliver when the lights shine the brightest? Replaced by Julian Alvarez as Argentina's main striker at the 2022 World Cup, he's got one goal in 10 games for his country since 2023. But a strong summer at the Copa America is where it can all chance, and where he can catapult himself into contention as the very best striker in the world. If he starts to deliver a bit more for his national team, he'll crack the top five next season. -- Roger Gonzalez

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11. Bukayo Saka -- Right Wing, Arsenal

It was December 16, 2020. Arsenal's winless league run had extended into its sixth game, a tame 1-1 draw against Southampton. Bukayo Saka, then just 19, felt compelled to explain himself. "You deserve more Arsenal fans", he tweeted, the broken heart emoji reflecting the sheer devastation that the man they called 'little chilli' shared with the rest of the fanbase. "We don't but you do," was the response of many for a player whose early career was to be forged through setbacks, not just tough early seasons for his boyhood club but that penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final and all that came with it.

Saka carries an almighty weight of expectations. The face of Arsenal for years now, barring injury he will cross the 250 appearance mark for his club well before his 24th birthday -- hang around long enough and it is not inconceivable that David O'Leary's all time appearance record will be Saka's. In all those games, it is hard to think of one where he has looked to be taking it easy, to be coasting his way through the thundering challenges that seem to hit him every time he takes to the pitch. Saka knows that if he plays for the badge on the front of his shirt, supporters will never forget the name on the back. Already an Arsenal legend, north London immortality beckons in the years ahead. -- James Benge

12. Lionel Messi -- Forward, Inter Miami

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The greatest player of all-time. About to turn 37, playing in MLS, and he's still this high on the list. If that doesn't describe his greatness, do you need something else? After leading Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar, he finished his time with PSG and made that move to Inter Miami where he has, as expected, made defenders look like children. He's got 25 goals in 29 games for the Herons and needs just five more to become the club's all-time leading scorer. He led them to their first trophy ever last summer, they are one of the favorites to win the Leagues Cup again, they have as good a shot as anybody to win MLS Cup, and he even had a game this season where he had five assists in one half … he also scored in that half. In the shadow of Maradona and Pele for not having achieved international glory, he's got that World Cup triumph, and Copa America title, and he's going for another one this summer. It really doesn't matter what Argentina do in that competition or in the World Cup in 2026 -- he's proven to be the greatest to ever do it, and he continues to make a case as being the best player in the world. All the greats -- Michael Jordan in basketball, Tom Brady in football -- they've all had to adjust their game as Father Time approached, and just as the GOATS do, he's been able to reinvent himself through intelligence and experience to remain at the very top of his game. -- Roger Gonzalez

13. Antoine Griezmann -- Forward, Atletico Madrid

Even at 33 years of age, the France international was able to post one of the most complete seasons of his career this past campaign with Atletico Madrid by contributing 24 goals and seven assists for Diego Simeone's men. Antoine Griezmann could also star for Les Bleus in Germany this summer at UEFA Euro 2024 less than two years on from his star turn at the FIFA 2022 World Cup which led all the way to the final. The former Real Sociedad man is arguably seeing the benefits of the enforced rest that his costly return from Barcelona entailed and his longevity at international level was only recently curtailed by injury at this very late stage in his career which is testament to his peak physical form and professional approach. We are also now witnessessing Griezmann not only as a complete player who is also capable of remarkable versatility but also as a leader for both club and country which could be further emphasized on German soil this summer. -- Jonathan Johnson

14. Declan Rice -- Midfield, Arsenal

Limited though the history of nine figure transfer fees might be, such lofty expenditure rarely comes with guarantees of success. If anything, it would appear that the weight of expectations crushes players of real talent. Not Declan Rice. There's a reason Arsenal fans chant that they got him half-price at £105 million. 

The expectation was that the former West Ham captain would add a little more solidity to a backline that had been vulnerable to transitions and clumsy errors. Rice offers them that in spades, his muscular running and immaculate vision for where the game is heading allowing him to blot out counters before they have even begun. What Arsenal might not have seen coming is the goal contributions, dramatic late winners against Manchester United and Luton Town, coupled with suprising passing chops he displayed with a brilliant assist against Bournemouth. Rice has made his new club a much more effective outfit in attack and defense. At any price, that's a bargain. -- James Benge

15. Florian Wirtz -- Midfield, Bayer Leverkusen

In the summer of 2020 Bayer Leverkusen had nearly $100 million to spend on a replacement for Kai Havertz, the best homegrown player the club had produced in two decades. They didn't need to spend a cent to find a player who four years later would be the outstanding player in one of the greatest teams the Bundesliga has ever seen, German football's first Invincibles. Wirtz was the X-factor, 18 goals and 20 assists in 49 games across all competitions, the man whose vision and understanding of space brought the best out of those around him.

On the ball, Wirtz has the feel of an old-fashioned number 10. His team mates can't help but entrust him with possession, knowing that he will be the one to crack open low blocks. It is early days yet to know if his shooting form will hold, but when opportunities open up for Wirtz, he tends to take them. Then there is the industry of his off-ball pressing. This is a player who loves the scraps, his angelic demeanor hiding a more impudent side to him. A superstar already, it is only a matter of time before he lands at Manchester City, Real Madrid or another hyper-club. When he does they will surely give him the same responsibility Xabi Alonso has. -- James Benge

16. Bernardo Silva -- Winger/Midfield, Manchester City

Type Bernardo Silva underrated into Google News and you will find at least 30 results, perhaps more, from recent years. Even this continual cry that the Portuguese international isn't getting his flowers seems grossly insufficient. For seven years he has been a constant in Manchester City's excellence, a player of such versatility that Pep Guardiola has trusted him everywhere from left back to center forward. Every Silva observer will have a favorite version of the great man, for this particular writer it does not get better than him floating across the left flank, merry mayhem following in his wake.

Guardiola rarely stints in praise for his players but when he describes Silva you know he is particularly taken. "I could stay here and talk for 10 minutes on what Bernardo Silva means for me and our team," said the City boss in October. "He is a player that is beyond good in all departments - solidarity, intelligence, he understands everything. We are in love with him." -- James Benge

17. Martin Odegaard -- Midfield, Arsenal

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The standard bearer for the Arsenal revolution, at just 25 years of age it could be argued that Martin Odegaard has already fulfilled the potential that made him one of the most coveted teens in the world a decade ago. The last two seasons have seen him weigh in with the second most open play chances created and third most expected assists in Europe's top four leagues. Unlike so many other number 10s he is the sort who can lead a ferocious press too. In England, Spain, Germany and Italy, Bruno Fernandes has the second most possession regains in the attacking third since the start of 2022-23 with 71. Odegaard has 90.

He may not have got to lift the biggest silverware so far in his career but when you observe his combination of steely determination and on ball elegance it is hard to shake the sense that it is a matter of when, not if, captain Odegaard and his Arsenal charges take the final step. -- James Benge

18. Jamal Musiala -- Midfield, Bayern Munich

One of the new young stars of the Germany national team will be looking to put the disappointment of the club season with Bayern Munich behind him this summer as he targets becoming a national hero. Jamal Musiala might only be 21 yet he plays with the maturity of a veteran and it feels as if he has already been around for more or less a full career despite only breaking through with the Bavarian giants in 2020 and still playing with the Bundesliga outfit's second string side until 2021. With 12 goals and seven assists across all competitions, things could have been much worse at an individual level and even Kylian Mbappe said recently that you learn more as young players from adversity than you do by simply winning each and every time. That is perhaps what Bayern must come to terms with most under new new boss Vincent Kompany and Musiala will certainly be key to the Belgian's attempt to turn around the falling giant of German soccer. -- Jonathan Johnson

19. Robert Lewandowski -- Forward, Barcelona

What is there to say about the Poland international that hasn't been said before? At 35 years of age, he's still an elite striker and one of the most consistent that we have ever seen. From every season since 2011-12, he's scored at least 20 goals, twice hitting at least 50 and hitting 40 six other times. Now, it might feel like things have been quiet from him, but part of that is due to playing at an inconsistent Barcelona side, though he's already notched a La Liga trophy in his two seasons at the club. Firmly in Real Madrid's shadow, he hasn't slowed down at all while in Spain. He's got 59 goals at Barca in 95 games, and he's closing in on 600 career club goals. Already Poland's top scorer (82 goals), he's got 34 more than the next player. All that's left for him is international success for his country, but that's easier said than done. Regardless of if it happens or not, he's one of the greatest strikers of the last couple decades, and with a couple more top-level seasons, you can put him up in the conversation as one of the greatest and most prolific strikers that we've ever seen. -- Roger Gonzalez

20. Son Heung-Min -- Winger/Forward, Tottenham Hotspur

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He may not always command the fanfare that others do, but few players are as universally respected and incredibly liked as Son Heung-Min, arguably Tottenham Hotspur's greatest signing (if excluding academy products) in the last several decades.

The South Korea international had another standout season in North London, his first after earning the captain's armband. He scored 17 goals and notched 10 assists, combining well with teammates old and new in a reinvisioned style under manager Ange Postecoglou. Son was amongst the Premier League's top attacking stars once again during the 2023-24 season, ranking in the top 15 in most attacking categories, and within the top four for assists. He has scored 14-plus goals in all but his first season at Spurs, demonstrating remarkable consistency and emerging as one of the best finishers of his generation.

Tottenham paid a transfer fee of just £22 million for Son's services in 2015 and nearly a decade later, it's clear he surpassed expectations. That's his story in a nutshell -- he took a long, globe-trotting journey to the top of the game, becoming both one of the best players in his club's and country's history and earning his place amongst the sport's biggest stars. -- Pardeep Cattry

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21. Vigil van Dijk -- Center Back, Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has long been the consensus pick for the best center back in the world, so it comes as no surprise that he's the highest-ranked player in that position in the Golazo 100 after another solid season.

He ranked fourth in the Premier League for passes played and completed an impressive 91.5% of them, but his comfort with the ball on his feet is just one of his many attributes. His physical presence was crucial as Liverpool earned 10 clean sheets in the league, while his potentially unrivaled excellence on set pieces meant he added another five goals to his account this season.

Liverpool were more porous in the back during the 2023-24 season than they may have liked and there are some murmurs that van Dijk's impressive stay in Merseyside might be up with new leadership at the club. There's no denying that van Dijk is the best version of a modern center back, demonstrating practicality through physicality and creativity with an eye for the pass. He's a rightful choice as his generation's best center back, even as he exits his peak years. -- Pardeep Cattry

22. Toni Kroos -- Midfield, Real Madrid

To go out on a high is probably the ideal scenario for most athletes, but Toni Kroos will almost certainly accomplish that, regardless of how Germany do in the Euros. The 34-year-old can still hack it at the game's top levels and even in his final season, he is still usually one of the best players on the pitch.

Kroos delivered one masterclass after another over the course of the 2023-24 season, when he was La Liga's best passer amongst those who played 500-plus minutes with a 94.7% accuracy, creating 82 chances and notching eight assists in the process. The results were just as good in the UEFA Champions League, ranking second for passers behind Manchester City's Ruben Dias. He was essential in Real Madrid's campaign to win the Champions League, when Carlo Ancelotti's side became known for playing second-best but winning out thanks to their attacking quality. It was perhaps most on display in the first leg of their semifinal against Bayern Munich, when the opposition had a handful of early chances but Kroos' perfectly placed ball allowed Vinicius Junior to score the opening goal of the game on Real Madrid's first chance.

His form has not dipped from his peak years, winning innumerable rounds of praise and the accolades to go along with it. There's little left to say that's already been said about Kroos' brilliance, so let's close with an easy concluding thought about a player as accomplished as he is: He will easily go down as one of his generation's best players, and will be missed. -- Pardeep Cattry

23. Victor Osimhen -- Forward, Napoli

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The Nigerian striker, despite a disappointing season by his standads, has to be considered among the top strikers around Europe and there is still no certainty about his imminent future. He extended his deal with Napoli in December 2023, but also included a release clause worth around €130 million. With multiple clubs potentially interested in signing him, new Azzurri coach Antonio Conte is still not sure to have him in his roster next season. Osimhen is a goal machine and scored 15 Serie A goals in 25 games played in the last season, a season where Napoli struggled and didn't qualified for a European place next year. Osinhen can play in different tactical systems, but probably shows his best potential when he plays alongside two wingers and he's the central striker in the 4-3-3 as he played under Luciano Spalletti when Napoli won the historical Scudetto in 2023. – Francesco Porzio 

24. Bruno Fernandes -- Midfield, Manchester United

This past season will not live long in the memory of the Portugal international, nor Manchester United supporters after another desperate campaign which was saved late on by FA Cup success. Bruno Fernandes and Erik ten Hag are both unsure of their respective futures at Old Trafford and the 29-year-old will have a chance to put that pain behind him at UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany where he is part of Roberto Martinez's squad. However, the Portuguese star has become a divisive figure on the red half of Manchester in recent years and with INEOS bringing new sporting leadership to the Red Devils, there is a possibility that a managerial change could open the door to an exit. Fernandes' stock remains fairly high and 15 goals and assists across all competitions is still pretty decent when you consider how awful United have been at times. The ex-Sporting CP man recently suggested in a heartfelt open letter to the fans that he does not want to leave, but perhaps the time is approaching when it suits the captain and the club to mutually go their separate ways. -- Jonathan Johnson

25. Ruben Dias -- Center Back, Manchester City

Manchester City's defining feature is that the team is stacked with top-tier talent, something Ruben Dias exemplifies. The Premier League and Champions League winner is the defensive rock of their success, a foundational element of their stylish tactical plans that requires a practicality and an eye for a pass.

After serving as a crucial member of the team that won the treble, Dias followed it up with another outstanding display during the 2023-24 season. He ranked ninth in the Premier League for touches and sixth for passes, posting a remarkable 94.1% passing accuracy in the process -- third amongst players who played 500-plus minutes. He exemplifies the Guardiola center back, and perhaps as a result the model center back.

Four years into his spell at City, it's clear why the club paid around €70 million for his services. Dias has risen to become the game's best center back, and should hang onto the distinction for years to come. -- Pardeep Cattry

26. William. Saliba -- Center Back, Arsenal

At just 23 years of age, William Saliba has the trait all great center backs need but few develop so soon: "that aura." You cannot really appreciate the young Frenchman's value to Arsenal until you see all the passes that opponents don't play because they know they'll be snared up by one of the most powerful, mobile center backs in the game.

In only his second year in the Premier League, Saliba's repertoire expanded, particularly in the early months of the season when Mikel Arteta entrusted him to be the defender who stepped out from the back to build possession. In 2022-23 the youngster averaged 63.2 completed passes per 90 in the Premier League, the following term that was 69.2. His touches, passes in the attacking third and carries all trended up too as Saliba expanded his repertoire. With so much time on his side it would be no surprise if he has much further to climb in these rankings. -- James Benge

27. Federico Valverde -- Midfield, Real Madrid

The new number eight at Real Madrid will be even a more crucial player for the side coached by Carlo Ancelotti after German legend Toni Kroos decided to retire after the 2024 UEFA Euro taking place this summer. Valverde, season after season, has progressed from prospect to rotation player, to starter, to star at Real Madrid due to the rotations and development of Ancelotti. While others like Kroos and Modric began to rotate and play less as they aged, or others such as Brazilian midfielder Casemiro left the club, Valverde became one of the certainties of the Spanish side. He's not only a great runner inside the field, but also a goal scorer, scoring a key goal against Manchester City in the first leg of the quarter finals at the Santiago Bernabeu, a goal that kept the dreams of Ancelotti's side alive and probably decided a big part of the 15th Champions League won by Real Madrid this season. – Francesco Porzio 

28. Rodrygo -- Right Wing, Real Madrid

One of the stars of this current Real Madrid team, but also one of the most underestimated ones. Rodrygo, since he joined the Spanish giants, has delivered the goals and performances that made this cycle one of the most successful in the club's storied history. Even this season, when Carlo Ancelotti had to cope the departure of a striker like Karim Benzema, Real Madrid opted to not replace him with another star, as they waited for Kylian Mbappe to play out his contract with PSG, and instead counted a lot on the same Rodrygo, who can play in multiple positions of the attacking line. He can play as a winger, as a central striker, but also behind or alongside another player. This is why he's a player that Ancelotti can't live without. One of those teammates that are always crucial to create a winning dynasty. In fact, he scored 17 goals in all competitions, the fourth best scorer after Vinicius Jr, Jude Bellingham and Joselu.  – Francesco Porzio 

29. Nicolo Barella -- Midfield, Inter

One of the most complete midfielders around the world, Barella is a player who improved drastically since he joined Inter in the summer 2019 where he quickly became one of the most important players on the team, and he's currently the vice-captain. Under Conte first and under Inzaghi lately, Barella became a key player for Inter. As a right midfielder in the 3-5-2, Barella is an incredibly rangy player, but most importantly he's one of the best ones at both recovering possession for his team and also to attack and score goals as well. Since he joined the Nerazzurri, he was named as the best Serie A midfielder twice in 2021 and in 2023, and was one of the players that drove Inter to lift the Serie A title trophy twice in 2021 and 2024 among other trophies. Despite the interests coming from the Premier League in particular, Barella is now set to extend his deal with the Nerazzurri in the upcoming weeks. – Francesco Porzio 

30. Cole Palmer -- Midfield, Chelsea

If you were crafting a blueprint for how to spoil a young talent it might go like this: take them out of a stable environment where their minutes will be carefully allotted, ideally on transfer deadline day so he has no time to settle. Then you thrust him into a club riven by mismanagement, a squad that has barely had time to learn each other's names. The coup de grace would then be to task this 22-year-old with a huge role in offense, one far beyond any normal youngster with only a few hours of Premier League football to their name.

Cole Palmer should have flopped like a fair few other big name Chelsea additions have. Instead, he bore the weight of Stamford Bridge expectations like a loose fitting linen shirt. No wonder he was always so cold. With 15 assists and 27 goals (albeit a fair few penalties), Palmer was perhaps more valuable to his team than anyone else in the English top flight. Before his debut season was out, his team mates were being challenged to prove they are "Chelsea FC, not Cole Palmer FC." There might still be work to do on that front. -- James Benge

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31. Alisson -- Goalkeeper, Liverpool

I'm looking at Alisson right now like I would a polar bear in Arlington. What are you doing down here? The best goalkeeper in the world, the second best player in this particular writer's rankings, has been done dirty elsewhere in the voting pool, just because he wears gloves on his hands. Here's the thing, goalkeepers may not win Ballon d'Ors or sell the most shirts but a pretty key component of winning football matches is stopping the other team kicking the ball in your net. No one does that better than Alisson, who has brought old school goalkeeping orthodoxies to a position in continual flux.

The Liverpool No.1 is a truly exceptional sweeper keeper, so composed with the ball at his feet that he can occasionally indulge a more cavalier side. The occasional mistakes he makes, however, are comprehensively outweighed by the one-on-ones in which he blots out any hope for opposing strikers, the command of his penalty area, the instinctive brilliance of an all-time great in his position. I'll say it again, what on earth is he doing down here? -- James Benge

32. Antonio Rudiger -- Center Back, Real Madrid

Antonio Rudiger is a madman, but in the best way. A wind up merchant who gets into attackers heads, Rudiger has been the perfect person to lead the heart of Real Madrid's defense even with a rotating cast of defenders and goalkeepers around him due to injuries during the season. One of the many catalysts to Real Madrid's Champions League triumph, after a draw to RB Leipzig in the round of 16 Rudiger said, "We don't celebrate because it's not a good performance." That statement is one of many things showing why Los Blancos were able to suffer to win UCL, but they couldn't have done it without Rudiger in the middle. When Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois both went down with injuries it felt like there was no way the defense would survive and then they went on to only concede 26 goals in 38 La Liga matches. While there were bumps in the road, the German international was able to bring Madrid's back line together and contribute key goals in the process. -- Chuck Booth

33. Ilkay Gundogan -- Midfield, Barcelona

After winning the treble with Manchester City, the German midfielder decided to leave the English side last summer and joined FC Barcelona where he quickly became one of the key players for the side coached by Xavi Hernandez. Despite a difficult season, Gundogan was immediately able to bring his experience to a club that needed players like him to improve some of their developing young stars. Gundogan played 36 La Liga games and scored five goals, but also showed his personality in some interviews where he demanded more from the whole environment and teammates as well, and he's now set to welcome his former German national team manager Hansi Flick who took charge at the Spanish club after Barcelona legend Xavi was dismissed as manager. – Francesco Porzio 

34. Hakan Calhanoglu -- Midfield, Inter

The Turkish midfielder's career was revitalized when he he started to play as playmaker under Simone Inzaghi at Inter. The big change arrived in September 2022, when Inter's Marcelo Brozovic injured his hamstring and basically missed the whole first part of the campaign. Inzaghi chose to play Calhanoglu in that position as a playmaker, and he's now more involved in the action via defensive responsibilities. This season, after Brozovic left the club and joined Al-Nassr, Calhanoglu had a more central role and was one of the secrets of the success of Inzaghi's side. Two years after the big disappointment, when Inter lost to AC Milan the 2022 Serie A title, Calhanoglu had his revenge against his former club and finally won the Scudetto at Inter. – Francesco Porzio 

35. Ederson -- Goalkeeper, Manchester City

The Brazilian goalkeeper is having an incredible time at Manchester City, but his future is in doubt this summer. However, he demonstrated himself to be one of the best in his role in recent years, and also a key player for the side coached by Pep Guardiola as he won the treble in 2023. There are plenty of reasons to think that the Citizens shouldn't let him go, despite the fact that he's about to turn 31 in August. His vision on the pitch makes him a key player for Guardiola and also his saves were one of the reasons for the success of this City team. Ederson joined the club in 2017 and since then was the starter as he played a total of 332 games anchoring the back line. – Francesco Porzio 

36. Cristiano Ronaldo -- Forward, Al-Nassr

Although things are not quite going according to plan for the Portuguese superstar in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr, the talismanic attacker could still star at UEFA Euro 2024 with Roberto Martinez's side. Still captain at the age of 39 despite the impact of 18 months in the Saudi Pro League, Cristiano Ronaldo remains one of the game's biggest names despite no longer being in his Real Madrid prime. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner remains etched into soccer history and for that reason alone, it is impossible to totally overlook him while still actively playing. A 35-goal league season in Saudi Arabia helps and could tee him up nicely to play a more meaningful role with the Portuguese in Germany than he did at the FIFA 2022 World Cup. -- Jonathan Johnson

37. Grimaldo -- Left Wing Back, Bayer Leverkusen

One season into his Bayer Leverkusen career, Alejandro Grimaldo already deserves a place in the annals of all-time great free transfers. For a reported $33,500 a week (a pittance at the elite level), Die Werkself got themselves 12 goals and 19 assists in all competitions this season from a 28 year old who really can function as a one man left flank. As sporting director Simon Rolfes noted: "Part of the reason why we dominate games to the extent we do at the moment is to do with him reading situations very quickly and coming forward to create overloads."

Without the ball he is the Leverkusen wing back tasked with getting back into position quickly on the rare occasions his side turn the ball over. While Frimpong tends to hold his width and hover on the peripheries of attacks, Grimaldo has more freedom to glide around and get involved in the build up while still getting a sizeable number of penalty box touches.

It is what the Spain international does outside the box that will really have caught our panel's attention, however. Over the past 10 months it has seemed there is no angle from which Grimaldo could not test, and often beat, a goalkeeper. His whip, dip and power are turn what might otherwise be speculative efforts into stunners, delivered with regularity. -- James Benge

38. Rafael Leao -- Left Wing, AC Milan

AC Milan star Rafael Leao didn't have his best season at the Italian club. Considering that the Portuguese player is widely believe to be one of the most talented attackers in Serie A his return of nine goals and nine assists was actually below expectations. Leao joined the Rossoneri in the summer of 2019 from Lille and since then has scored 58 goals in 210 games and also won the 2021-22 Serie A title as MVP of the season. Last summer he agreed to a new contract with the club with a €175 million release clause that can be triggered by any club that might want to sign him in the future. At the moment there are no concrete signs of a possible departure this summer, but AC Milan expect him much more from him next season, considering he's definitely the most talented player in the AC Milan roster. – Francesco Porzio 

39. Joshua Kimmich Midfield/Fullback, Bayern Munich

Rare is the player that has been described as a Swiss army knife and can perform each of those tasks at elite levels, but Joshua Kimmich has been just that for several years now. The UEFA Champions League winner has rotated through roles as a defensive midfielder, a right back and a center back for most of his peak years, playing a key role in his team's success for both club and country.

He was a consistent source of positivity for Bayern Munich during the 2023-24 season, one they would like to forget after failing to win a single trophy for the first time in roughly a decade. Kimmich serves as a part of Bayern's foundational tactical plan -- he ranked within the top 10 for touches and passes in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League, posting more than 90% accuracy in the latter category in both competitions. He balances his defensive labels with incredible attacking foresight, though. He ranked sixth in the Champions League for chances created (26) and expected assists (2.97), and was similarly productive with 72 chances created in the Bundesliga, seventh-most in the league.

Kimmich's accomplishments are not reserved solely for the advanced stats sheets, though. The most memorable moment of his season was arguably scoring the game's lone goal in the second leg of Bayern's Champions League quarterfinal against Arsenal, demonstrating that he's not just a behind-the-scenes type player. Another impressive club season for Kimmich is the perfect build-up for this summer's Euros, where he will likely be a key figure as hosts Germany eye redemption after several years of underwhelming results. -- Pardeep Cattry

40. Luka Modric -- Midfield, Real Madrid

An unexpected turnaround means that we have not seen the last of the Croatia international with Real Madrid as he promised to see Los Blancos' fans "next season" after their record-extending UEFA Champions League final win over the weekend. Luka Modric is a class act despite his advancing years and the technical loss, but also the experience which goes with Toni Kroos will be cushioned somewhat by one more year of the 38-year-old. With just two goals and six assists across all competitions, Modric is used sparingly by Carlo Ancelotti in La Liga, but in the UCL his ability to change games can still come in handy -- even if it is not at the level of his 2018 Ballon d'Or win. World soccer should be grateful that we get one final season of the former Tottenham Hotspur man's wizardry before he potentially hangs up his boots in the same way that Kroos is doing this summer. When he does finally do that, the Spanish giants' midfield will be in good hands. -- Jonathan Johnson

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41. T. Alexander-Arnold RB

Since becoming a full time starter at right back for Liverpool, seven league goal contributions is the fewest that he has registered in one season and it's still an impressive number for a defender. While Alexander-Arnold does have some issues with defensive positioning, when you can create like he does with double didget goal contributions in the league during four of the last six seasons, a few times being caught out on a counter attack is okay to deal with. Playing more midfield and different roles for England, it remains to be seen if that will be something that transitions to Liverpool under Arne Slot, but it's clear that the defender is one of the most important creators on the Reds and keeps the attack ticking along. With Liverpool back in Champions League, that creativity will be back on the stage that it deserves but Alexander-Arnold will hope that the pushes England to a Euros title first. -- Charles Booth

42. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia -- Left Wing, Napoli

Kvaradona, as the Napoli fans call him, had a difficult time this year at the club. After winning the historic Scudetto last season, he suffered like all the other Napoli players, the challenges of a season where the Azzurri ended up tenth without qualifying for European competitions. Kvara, after a year where he dominated the league struggled but that doesn't prevent clubs such as PSG to be attracted to sign him this summer. If he will stay, the new Napoli manager Antonio Conte will try to revive his skills at the club where his European career at high levels started. He's one of those players that probably need the right tactical asset to express at his best, as he did under Luciano Spalletti and became the player everyone wanted to see playing football. – Francesco Porzio

43. Thibaut Courtois -- Goalkeeper, Real Madrid

The Belgian goalkeeper has dealt with injuries and still had the quality to play in the Champions League final for Real Madrid, beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0. He missed 42 games after tearing his ACL in August, came back and tore a meniscus in March, missed six more games. Showing ultimate toughness, he was back and ready for the UCL final and showed no signs of slowing down, making four saves in yet another clean sheet. Making it this high on our list, considering his lack of minutes, speaks volumes about his quality. The towering former Chelsea man has been Real Madrid's No. 1 goalkeeper since 2018, creating numerous iconic moments, with this latest achievement part of a long list of honors. In the last two UCL finals and one UEFA Super Cup, he has not conceded a single goal. Next season, expect him back and even better. After being omitted from the Belgium squad at Euro 2024, he should be well rested come next season when the expectations will be to repeat as  UCL winners, especially after adding Kylian Mbappe. When in top form, he's the best goalkeeper in the world. He'll likely regain that throne next season.

44. Jeremie Frimpong -- Wing Back, Bayer Leverkusen

Nominally a wing back, it is perhaps more effective to think of Jeremie Frimpong as a wide forward who tracks back. His cheese is really earned by what he offers to Bayer Leverkusen when they have the ball, a one man ball progression machine down the right flank who averages more progressive passes received than Jack Grealish, more progressive carries than Kingsley Coman.

He gets the ball up the field and then he makes big contributions in the penalty area too. No one in all the Bundesliga logged as many touches in the box as Frimpong while his expected goals per shot was more that of a poacher than a winger. There are only so many sides where this sort of player profile can excel but Xabi Alonso built a system that turned the 23-year-old into a superstar, albeit the sort where potential suitors need to consider system fit very carefully. 

With a $43.5 million release clause this summer someone may well test Frimpong's willingness to stay at Leverkusen. For even half the offensive output he has given the Bundesliga champions this season, that would be a bargain price. -- James Benge

45. Victor Boniface -- Forward, Bayer Leverkusen

It's a shame that Victor Boniface couldn't stay healthy for the entire season and had to miss AFCON with Nigeria, but his debut Bundesliga season was a resounding success, winning the league and the DFB Pokal with Bayer Leverkusen. Able to score and create, Boniface was involved in 22 goals scoring 14 and assisting eight more in league play while also chipping in goals in other competitions as well. Only 22, his best years are certainly in front of him which is where things could get quite fun for Xabi Alonso and the squad. Boniface's rise has been a swift one and with his strength defenders can't keep up when he's on the pitch. Keep this up and 14 league goals may be the lowest tally that he registers for the remainder of his career. -- Chuck Booth

46. K. Walker -- Right Back, Manchester City

Seven years after joining Manchester City with hopes of taking his career to the next step, Kyle Walker's remarkable consistency is the defining feature of his ongoing spell with the Premier League champions. Rare are the days that Pep Guardiola will not call upon him in a big game, and equally as rare are the days on which Walker is not the perfect choice for the role assigned to him.

City's longtime right back enjoyed another season as a key player in Guardiola's tactically complex game plan. Walker ranked in the Premier League's top 20 for both touches and passes, posting a 90.4% passing accuracy overall and a stellar 91.6% in the attacking third, doing so while still boasting a reputation as one of Europe's speediest right backs, even at 34 years old.

Walker's consistency is now his trademark, especially after overcoming Guardiola's doubts within the last year. The Englishman did not start City's win in the 2023 UEFA Champions League final, weeks after Guardiola publicly said Walker did not fit into his current tactical plans. Walker's resiliency is full of layers, and after rebounding from recent disappointment, is also enduring. -- Pardeep Cattry

47. Pedri CM LW

He's dealt with his fair share of injuries as of late, but when healthy, there is Ballon d'Or potential there for the Barcelona budding superstar. Since joining from Las Palmas in 2020, he's got 20 goals in 143 games and was viewed as the face of Barca after Lionel Messi's departure to PSG. Pedri is versatile, wants the ball at his feet, can carry the ball into space or place the ball perfectly there. It's his elite passing that sets him apart because of his quick movement and cleverness. He only need a millisecond to produce a devastating, line-splitting pass. To really understand how special he is, just look at what his most recent coach has said.

"He understands the game," former Barca manager Xavi, one of the greatest midfielders in recent decades, said, per Coaches Voice. "He makes a difference with passes, he doesn't lose the ball … He is decisive. He is one the best that has come through here. We have to take care of him."

Also a key member of the Spain national team, one that is far from the level of the title-winning teams from 2008-2012, Pedri will need to be at his absolute best for Spain to have a realistic chance of winning. -- Roger Gonzalez

48. Leroy Sane -- Winger, Bayern Munich

Although it was not the best season for the Germany international individually or collectively as part of a Bayern Munich side which was knocked off of its Bundesliga perch by Bayer Leverkusen, this summer could be a bit brighter on home soil in UEFA Euro 2024. Leroy Sane is in the provisional squad selected by Julian Nagelsmann who knows him well from their time together in Bavaria, but the new boss has not been afraid to axe inconsistent players and the 28-year-old could be considered that despite a 10-goal and 12-assist season. A stunning goal against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semifinals was a reminder of his quality when he really turns it on, but he will have to prove himself again under Thomas Tuchel's replacement Vincent Kompany. Sane could do with a strong campaign on home soil with Die Mannschaft for both his club and international future as he approaches the age of 30. -- Jonathan Johnson

49. Bruno Guimaraes -- Midfield, Newcastle United

The heart and soul of the Newcastle midfield and regularly linked to Manchester City, the former Lyon man has quietly become one of the most well-rounded midfielders in the game. His ability to play as a deep-lying midfielder or even higher up centrally, he possesses a top-level ability to deliver the most perfect of passes forward and is a regular goal scorer. Equally as important, he relishes the opportunity to go in for a tackle and does it with power and precision, recovering the ball and getting counter attacks going. His seven-goal campaign this past season sees him with 17 goals in just two and a half seasons at the club. He had just three goals for Lyon from 2019-2022.

For Brazil, especially after the era of Casemiro and Fred, he will be vital to any success of the Selecao this summer in the Copa America. He has the opportunity to be the new face of that Brazil midfield in a vital era as they look to regain their South American dominance. -- Roger Gonzalez

50. Ollie Watkins -- Forward, Aston Villa

A stunning individual and collective season with Aston Villa has just closed for the England international with 22 goals and 13 assists across all competitions and a possible squad role for UEFA Euro 2024 to now look forward to in Germany this summer. It might not have ended quite how Unai Emery and his players had hopes with a painful UEFA Europa Conference League semifinal exit laying bare just how heavy the physical toll had been on the Villans' squad, which at times was relying on Ollie Watkins' goals to single handedly wins games and keep totting up enough points to stay ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. Villa did get that main ambition over the line which means that the 28-year-old will play UCL soccer next year and one of Emery's main aims for this summer will be to add a complementary attacking profile alongside that of Watkins so that the team are not as over-reliant on the former Brentford man as they have been. Under contract now until at least 2028, this next season is going to be fascinating not just for Villa but also for the Englishman as it could really present either a big collective opportunity or a timely individual one just before the age of 30 and logically the peak of his attacking prowess. -- Jonathan Johnson

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51. Josko Gvardiol -- Left Back, Manchester City

The most impressive thing about Manchester City's dominance in England is their ability to integrate new talent into the roster, and the latest newcomer to excel on the blue side of Manchester is Josko Gvardiol, who is already worth the £77 million fee the club paid RB Leipzig for his services last summer.

Gvardiol may have needed an adjustment period, but it was not a particularly long one, establishing himself as City's go-to left back in their Premier League title-winning run. After some inconsistent passing games early on in the season, his passing accuracy rose to 88.3% as he began to successfully implement Pep Guardiola's trademark style of play. The versatile defender now fits in wonderfully in City's pass-heavy defense, a role that also requires him to move into the midfield at times. He created 18 chances along the way in Premier League action, ranking in the top 10 amongst left backs in England's top flight.

With his first Premier League winners' medal already secured, it's hard not to be optimistic about the 22-year-old's growth as he obtains more experience working with Guardiola. He's another one of the game's rising stars, especially considering his wide skill set includes an impressive ability to place a stellar pass. -- Pardeep Cattry

52. Serhou Guirassy -- Forward, Stuttgart

After being relegated to the 2. Bundesliga in 2016-17, it seemed like Stuttgart were going to continue to tumble but they bounced right back to the Bundesliga and a few years later, Serhou Guirassy joined from Stade Rennais to lead the line. Only scoring 11 goals in his debut season, it didn't seem like much to write home about, but then he exploded. Even missing time with a hamstring injury, his 28 league goals led Stuttgart to a second placed finish in the Bundesliga and an unlikely Champions League berth. In a team that is comprised of undervalued players from around the world, the Guinean late bloomer may be among one of the most underrated strikers in the world. With only his first double digit league scoring season, he's another player who will have to prove this this year wasn't a one hit wonder, but if he does Stuttgart are going to be a tough out in Champions League play. -- Chuck Booth

53. Alexander Isak, Forward, Newcastle United

Despite only playing 30 matches this season, Alexander Isak improved his scoring for Newcastle United coming in third in the Premier Leauge golden boot race with 21 goals. The Magpies underperformed this season as a whole due to injuries and their lack of depth, while also competing in Champions League, but Isak's scoring helped Newcastle stay in the top half of the league. Just as comfortable with the ball at his feet or receiving it to shoot, Isak is someone who gives Eddie Howe flexibility to setup his team and will also be one of the players that Newcastle will rely on in order to return to the Champions League after missing out on European soccer altogether this coming season. -- Chuck Booth

54. Marcus Thuram -- Forward, Inter

Nobody expected the impact Marcus Thuram would have at Inter in his first Serie A season. The French international arrived as a free agent last summer and scored 15 goals in 46 games played across all competitions, but his impact was absolutely outstanding and his presence was one of the key ingredients that led Simone Inzaghi's Inter to win the Serie A title. Thuram scored some crucial goals, such as the one against city rivals AC Milan in the game that decided the title on April 22. His chemistry with Argentinian striker Lautaro Martinez improved game after game and there is no reason to believe it can't improve further over the next season. At Inter, Thuram found the place and the environment he needed to become one of the best strikers across Europe. He's also one of the names to watch this summer at the UEFA Euro 2024, where he will play with France. – Francesco Porzio 

55. Gabriel -- Center Back, Arsenal

Arsenal's successful evolution into a defensive powerhouse under Mikel Arteta has lined up with the upward trajectory of Gabriel, one half of a center back pairing that allowed the Gunners to book back-to-back second place finishes in the Premier League.

The Brazil international has evolved into one of the game's best modern-day center backs, ranking within the Premier League's top 20 for touches and attempted passes during the 2023-24 season and posting a passing accuracy of 89.1% as part of an Arsenal back line that collected 14 clean sheets in league play. Gabriel has plenty of range, too -- he was key as the Gunners absorbed all of Manchester City's pressure in their 0-0 draw in March, while demonstrating an attacking flair after scoring four goals this season, demonstrating a clinical ability on set pieces.

Gabriel's versatility means he delivers just about everything in a top-choice center back, which feels appropriate since the 26-year-old is emerging as one of Arsenal's mainstays and shows no signs of slowing down four years into his stay in North London. -- Pardeep Cattry

56. Aurelien Tchouameni -- Midfield, Real Madrid

It was a frustrating end to the season for the France international who saw injury scupper his chances of an on-field role in Real Madrid's unprecedented 15th UEFA Champions League win and could yet threaten his ability to participate in UEFA Euro 2024 as part of Didier Deschamps' initial squad selection. Aurelien Tchouameni has added a new string to his bow this past year by filling in as a central defender for Carlo Ancelotti as Los Blancos weathered an enormous injury crisis, which meant the 24-year-old needed to job share with the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez while David Alaba and Eder Militao spent most of the campaign out injured along with world class goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The former AS Monaco man has come on leaps and bounds since his 2022 arrival and forms part of the French contingent along with Eduardo Camavinga and Ferland Mendy which will add Kylian Mbappe to its ranks at Santiago Bernabeu this summer. Once fully fit, Tchouameni will be back to midfield with greater regularity now that the metronomic Toni Kroos has played his last game with the Spanish giants and a trio made up of the Frenchman and compatriot Camavinga as well as Federico Valverde with the possibility of Jude Bellingham also dropping back into a more central midfield berth. -- Jonathan Johnson

57. Eduardo Camavinga -- Midfield, Real Madrid

The role of being the utility player is often unglamorous, but to be that versatile on a team as dominant as Real Madrid requires a quiet brilliance. At just 21 years old, Eduardo Camavinga exemplifies just that, whether he plays his preferred defensive midfield role or slots in anywhere across the back line.

Camavinga spent much of the last season as the anchor of Real Madrid's midfield, the perfect springboard for the team's showstopping performances in attack en route to La Liga and UEFA Champions League success. He posted a 91.3% passing accuracy in the domestic league during the 2023-24 season, ranking within La Liga's top 20 for players with 500-plus minutes. He posted similar numbers in the Champions League and was a major source of consistency during the final, taking the second-most touches of his teammates as they won their 15th European title.

The Frenchman's preference in midfield allows him to demonstrate some attacking flair, the team's ever-present trademark even as a new generation of Galacticos hit the Spanish capital. He created nine chances in 11 Champions League games and notched one assist in the group stage. The fact that he already has two Champions League titles to accompany his on-field excellence makes him amongst the game's greatest rising talents, as well as a silently crucial piece of the puzzle for Real Madrid and France's future success. -- Pardeep Cattry

58. Ousmane Dembele -- Right Wing, PSG

It was a successful first season in Paris for the France international who was back in Ligue 1 for the first time since his Stade Rennais days and celebrated his first domestic silverware with a Championnat and Coupe de France double. Ousmane Dembele's six goals and nine assists across all competitions might have been a bit lower than initially anticipated, but it was a campaign of adaptation for the 27-year-old who has returned home as a recognized international and star name of significant value. Paris Saint-Germain's No. 10 has been the main creative fulcrum for Luis Enrique's side and was a key factor in a run to the UEFA Champions League semifinals with goals in both legs of the quarterfinal triumph over former club Barcelona the undoubted high point for Dembele and his teammates. Part of a renewed French core to this Paris squad which will obviously take a hit as Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, Dembouz will be even more important for the Ligue 1 champions next year and could also play a starring role for Les Bleus in Germany this summer at UEFA Euro 2024. With Mbappe now gone at Parc des Princes, Dembele has the chance to step up and show even greater maturity than that generally exhibited so far since his return to France as one of the figureheads of this new-look Parisien outfit. -- Jonathan Johnson

59. Frenkie de Jong -- Midfield, Barcelona

The Dutch midfielder had some ups and downs over the past few years, but in the end, despite the multiple interested parties abroad (Manchester United in particular), he always opted to stay at FC Barcelona and trust that he'd have the opportunity to excell. Under Xavi, step by step, he started to have more of a central role at the club and played 20 La Liga games, featuring whenever he was healthy. Now, with Hansi Flick taking charge at Barcelona, there are even more questions about his future. There is no doubt about the talent of De Jong, that's why he's ranked so high, and his potential at the club, but maybe he just needs to find the right place and right manager to make that extra step that we are all waiting for. – Francesco Porzio 

60. Granit Xhaka -- Midfield, Bayer Leverkusen

Though his feisty side might still shine through on occasion, Granit Xhaka, the once-hot-blooded former captain of Arsenal, was the cool head who guided Bayer Leverkusen beyond their wildest dreams last season. The player that Xabi Alonso wanted to set standards both on and off the pitch ended up breaking records, making and completing more passes while registering more touches than anyone else in a Bundesliga campaign.

That Xhaka found league glory a year after his near miss was not even the half of it. After years where he only ever seemed to divide opinion, the 31 year old has found contentedness at a club that deeply values him. Had you taken a walk around the Olympiastadion before the DFB Pokal final you would have found No.34 shirts outnumbered perhaps only by Florian Wirtz's Nos. 10 and 27. They are over the moon to have Xhaka at Leverkusen and Xhaka is living a dream at the fourth club of his career. -- James Benge

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61. Marc ter Stegen -- Goalkeeper, Barcelona

Barcelona were off the pace in La Liga this season and have just gone through a painful divorce with Xavi after a brutal end to the campaign which saw a UEFA Champions League run abruptly ended by Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been a rare model of consistency for the mostly chaotic Catalan giants these past few years yet it might have gone unnoticed that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Germany international's move to Catalonia. Part of the host nation's squad for this summer's UEFA Euro 2024, the 32-year-old will have the chance to put a difficult Blaugrana campaign behind him although he might not start ahead of Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer under Julian Nagelsmann. Ter Stegen remains one of the finest shot stoppers around and his ability to periodically remind everyone of that would probably be enhanced if Barca were more stable on and off the field. -- Jonathan Johnson

62. Alexis Mac Allister -- Midfield, Liverpool 

The World Cup winner has had an astronomical rise from his time at Argentinos Juniors and Boca Junior to Brighton and now at Liverpool. Seven goals for the Reds this season as part of a revamped midfield, he continues to improve and looked fantastic in his first season at Anfield. With a knack for rocket golazos from range, he can also provide the crucial pass for key goals, just like to Angel Di Maria in the 2022 World Cup final. A sure-fire starter for Argentina at this summer's Copa America, he's part of that next generation for the Albiceleste, as promising as any other country's talent pool. Expect huge things from him moving forward, especially under new Liverpool coach Arnie Slot. He has all the tools needed to be one of the most versatile midfielders in the game. -- Roger Gonzalez

63. John Stones -- Defender, Manchester City

Like most signings at Manchester City, it took a bit for John Stones to ease into his role, but once he did he was able to prove that he's one of the best defenders in England going from playing on the backline to also stepping into midfield when needed. It's his presence that helped Pep Guardiola's men smother their opposition but whenever he was absent with an injury, City's performances with Stones off the pitch also showed his importance. Stones struggled with a hip injury this season that limited him to only 28 appearances in all competitions, but he still did what he could to contribute when available chipping in a goal and two assists alongside his solid defensive performances to help City to a fourth consecutive Champions League title. -- Chuck Booth

64. Emiliano Martínez -- Goalkeeper, Aston Villa

The Aston Villa man will be in the UEFA Champions League next season after Unai Emery's miracle turnaround of the Birmingham-based giants resulted in a top four finish in the Premier League and a seat at European soccer's top table. Emi Martinez is widely regarded as one of the top goalkeepers in the game right now and the Argentina international will have the chance to showcase that once again this summer with Copa America on U.S. soil. The 31-year-old might have missed out agonizingly on the UEFA Europa Conference League final with Villa despite his individual heroics in a penalty shootout against Lille OSC to reach the semifinals, but his role in the Villans' restoration as one of the EPL's leading lights has not gone unnoticed. -- Jonathan Johnson

65. Xavi Simons -- Midfielder, RB Leipzig

A breakout season with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands has been followed by an impressive developmental campaign in Germany with RB Leipzig which now has the Dutch international on the verge of potentially breaking out into genuine superstardom at this summer's UEFA Euro 2024. Xavi Simons is part of an Oranje group which could spring a surprise or two in a group which also features France, Austria and Poland, but the 21-year-old's future remains up in the air with Paris Saint-Germain head coach Luis Enrique keen to have the ex-Barcelona prodigy available for the post-Kylian Mbappe era. With 10 goals and 13 assists across all competitions and a first full term of UEFA Champions League soccer under his belt, Simons has been one of the revelations of this past year anywhere on the continent and a strong Euro could tempt suitors to try to test PSG's resolve to keep him while Leipzig will be desperate to have him for another year or so to continue his rapid rise. -- Jonathan Johnson

66. Achraf Hakimi -- Right Back, Inter

After a difficult year on and off the field, the Morocco international took things back to basics under Luis Enrique and produced an improved season in the French capital which nearly ended with a UEFA Champions League final berth. Achraf Hakimi is one of Europe's leading right-sided attacking fullbacks and having the former Inter, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund man on one side with Nuno Mendes on the other is a pretty enviable situation for Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish tactician. The 25-year-old has been with the French champions for three years now and has grown extremely close with the departing Kylian Mbappe, so it will be interesting to see how the French superstar's departure impacts his friend. Hakimi could thrive as one of the new leaders in Paris given his experience and influence, but also could go back to looking as lost as he did towards the end of last season when PSG were falling apart at the seams. There could also be an Olympic Games outing for the Moroccan in Group B which could impact his summer plans and Hakimi remains one of the leading names in his position which was illustrated by five goals and six assists all told. -- Jonathan Johnson

67. Alessandro Bastoni -- Center Back, Inter

He's not just one of the most influential defenders of this era, he's a playmaker playing in the left of a three-back defense, an assist-man and also a goal scorer when he has a chance. It's not a coincidence that multiple European clubs are monitoring him for the future, but Inter have no intention to sell him. Bastoni improved a lot since he joined Inter and former manager Antonio Conte decided to count on him immediately. Under Simone Inzaghi, Bastoni's leadership made him one of the key stars of the side that just won the Italian Serie A. – Francesco Porzio

68. Paulo Dybala -- Forward, Roma

The Argentinian striker joined AS Roma in the summer 2022 and since then was able to restore his reputation after the many injuries that slowed his growth as a footballer over the past few seasons. However, thanks to the work he started under Jose Mourinho at Roma, he came back at the level he used to be and he's now a key player for the Giallorossi. This season he scored 15 goals in all competitions but it was not enough to convince Argentinian head coach Lionel Scaloni to call him up for the upcoming 2024 Copa America. Next season, his third one at AS Roma, he has to deliver even more and possibly win a trophy with the team now coached by Daniele De Rossi. – Francesco Porzio 

69. Federico Dimarco -- Defender/Winger, Inter

The Italian international should be considered among the best left wingers in the world. Dimarco improved drastically over the past two seasons under Simone Inzaghi and became an icon of the team he supported since his childhood, Inter. He also scored six goals in all competitions in the season that just ended and he's a key player for Inzaghi's side. Dimarco is a complete player, with his technique and his pace on the left side of the pitch making him the kind of player that can change the course of a game in any moment. Dimarco will also play as a starter at the UEFA Euro 2024 and became a crucial player also for the national team, especially since Luciano Spalletti took charge in 2023.  – Francesco Porzio 

70. Lamine Yamal -- Right Wing, Barcelona

The youngest player on this list by a long shot at only 16, everything about Lamine Yamal makes you believe that he'll be a star. Fearless on the ball and able to shoot and create from everywhere, I can't think of a time that I've seen someone so young with the confidence that he has and records are already falling as he has become the youngest player to ever appear in a Champions Leauge quaterfinal, the youngest player to debut and score for the Spanish national team and the youngest player to ever provide an assist in Champions League play among other records. The wild thing is that he's only getting better by the day. Plenty of steps still need to happen for him to grow into his role and become a bonafide star before he's even 18. Like other members of Barcelona, consistency and patience will be needed, but things are trending in the right direction. -- Chuck Booth

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71. Gavi -- Midfield, Barcelona

With 29 caps for the Spanish national team at only 19, Gavi is one of the players leading the charge of the current crop of academy graduates from La Masia. Despite the dysfunction around Barcelona as a club -- he's about to see his third permanent manager since debuting in 2021 -- Gavi has still shined in midfield when healthy. Able to pop up all over the midfield or on the wing, Gavi is great at being a defensive presence and at setting up his teammates but if forgotten about he can show up in the box to get a goal too. Alongside Barcelona's other impressive youth players, better times are coming for the club despite the lack of spending power, but consistency is needed at the top sooner than later. -- Chuck Booth

72. Theo Hernandez -- Left Back, AC Milan

Although it might not have been the season that Milan were hoping for, the versatile France international helped the Rossoneri to second place in Serie A and clocked the second best number of minutes out of the entire squad. With 12 goal involvements across all competitions, Theo Hernandez is a rare example of consistency among attack-minded fullbacks and he is likely to be a regular for Didier Deschamps at this summer's UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany. The Marseille-born 26-year-old is coming up on five years in Italy, having honed his skills in Spain and could be tempted to return to his homeland to sample domestic soccer there as his brother -- Lucas -- has done to great effect in Paris. The two will not reunite with Les Bleus because of injury, but expect Theo to be a big attacking plus for the French on the left as they attempt to go all the way. -- Jonathan Johnson

73. Julian Alvarez -- Forward, Manchester City 

The Argentina international completed football last season by winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, adding those incredible achievements to numerous others such as World Cup, Copa America and Copa Libertadores.The 24-year-old native of Calchin, Alvarez has at least 17 goals in each of his last four seasons (two at River Plate, two at City). His 17-goal haul last season was surpassed this campaign with 19 strikes. 

Overshadowed by Erling Haaland, this is a $100 million player (in terms of value and potential) who is just an occasional starter for Manchester City. For the World Cup champs, he's much more. 

Alvarez had seven goals in 2022 for Argentina, and despite not scoring in 2023, he's likely the favorite to join Messi in attack over Lautaro Martinez thanks to what he pulled off at the 2022 World Cup, scoring two crucial goals against Croatia in the semifinals. 

Alvarez isn't near his prime and has the potential to score 30 goals a season as the starting No. 9. Expect him to only rise on this list. -- Roger Gonzalez

74. Kai Havertz -- Forward/Midfield, Arsenal

When he left Chelsea in the summer of 2023, Kai Havertz knew what he didn't want. He had grown tired of being a center forward, dueling with burly defenders, his back to goal and precious few opportunities to stretch his creative muscles. So it was with bitter irony that after half a season when it looked like his troubles had followed him from west London to north, Havertz found his joy again… as a center forward.

It is easy to see why the position might be more appealing at Arsenal, not least the altogether more settled nature of the club. Surrounding the German is elite talent with clearly defined roles, capable of feeding him chances and profiting off those he creates. The result has been goals in a flurry, since he got the striking gig permanently in the 3-1 win over Liverpool on February 4 he delivered nine goals and six assists, as many goal involvements as anyone in the Premier League except Cole Palmer. There was a time when the chant "Kai Havertz scores again" seemed a high stakes gambit on a player who could hardly buy a goal. Now it looks like prophesy. -- James Benge

75. Alphonso Davies -- Left Back, Bayern Munich

The posterboy of MLS players transitioning to – and thriving in – Europe, Davies has gone from a 15-year-old winger who was coming into his own to becoming one of the best left backs in the world with Bayern Munich. Davies has exceeded every expectation set for him and then some, yet he can still go even further being only 23. With his pace, Davies can keep up with the best wingers in the world while also delivering chances into attacking areas and still is able to flip back to being a full time attacker when on international duty for Canada.

After the disappointment of the World Cup in Qatar where Canada crashed out during the group stage of the tournament, it's something that Davies and the team can use as motivation ahead of the Copa America and 2026 World Cup looking to put the Canucks on the map. -- Chuck Booth

76. Mats Hummels -- Center Back, Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund's Cinderella run to the 2024 UEFA Champions League final was built on the back of a strong defense, and at the heart of their resolve in the back was veteran Mats Hummels.

The 35-year-old was able to steer Dortmund out of trouble as they slayed several giants of Europe en route to Wembley Stadium, including Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid. He made 81 recoveries in 13 games, ranking within the top five in the Champions League during the 2023-24 season. His adaptability to the modern demands of the game, though, was his most admirable attribute -- Hummels still fit in amongst the best center backs of the game over the course of the season, ranking within the top 10 for touches with 930 and the top 15 for attempted passes with 708, posting a passing accuracy of 87.6%.

Nearly a decade removed from his central role as Germany won the World Cup, the five-time Bundesliga champion almost ushered in a career renaissance with reminders of his quality. Hummels' long-standing reputation as an elite defender was on full display in Europe this season, serving as the picture of longevity in the process. -- Pardeep Cattry

77. Artem Dovbyk -- Striker, Girona

There's bursting on the scene and then there's what Artem Dovbyk did this season, winning the La Liga golden boot with Girona behind 24 league goals. Coming into the team as a relative unknown after moving from SK Dnipro-1, the Ukrainian quickly established himself as a dominant threat in the air for Girona helping them qualify for a Champions League berth this season. Six of those goals were scored with his head this season maximizing his 6'2" frame and showing how important timing can be in those moments. Like many of the names on this list, Dovbyk will be leading his team at Euros which will only be their fourth ever appearance at the tournament. 

With improving talent, they'll have a chance to do better than their quarter finals finish at the 2020 edition of the tournament, but they'll need more goals from Dovbyk to do it as his next step will be proving that this breakout season is repeatable and not a flash in the pan. At only 26 years old, there are plenty of reasons to believe that this is only the start for the Ukrainian. -- Chuck Booth

78. Marquinhos -- Center Back, PSG

Now into his 11th year with Paris Saint-Germain, the Brazil international has risen to the position of full-time captain and is writing the sorts of records that you imagine might not ever be topped with the French giants. Marquinhos is Les Parisiens' all-time top appearance maker at the age of 30 and has until 2028 to add to that, by which time he would be 34 and well on his way towards the sort of longevity exhibited by former PSG teammate Thiago Silva. The former AS Roma man has experienced all of the ups and downs that Paris under Qatari ownership has had to offer and retiring at Parc des Princes should not be ruled out now that a slide in form has been arrested with a good first term under Luis Enrique which brought Marquinhos his ninth Ligue 1 title and a third UEFA Champions League semifinal outing. -- Jonathan Johnson

79. Jan Oblak -- Goalkeeper, Atletico Madrid

Jan Oblak is no stranger to the top levels of the game. The 31-year-old is a prodigy-turned-elite talent, having been Atletico Madrid's starting goalkeeper for the better part of a decade and collecting one La Liga title and a UEFA Europa League trophy in the process. His consistency may go a little under the rade at times, but one thing is clear -- Oblak's reliability takes his team up a level, serving as the foundation for their success.

Look no further than their UEFA Champions League campaign, when they made a surprise run to the quarterfinals despite drawing Serie A champions Inter in the round of 16. Oblak was one of the best goalkeepers in Europe last season, making 38 saves -- the fourth-most in the competition -- and posting a 74.5% save percentage, behind only Borussia Dortmund's Gregor Kobel. It was not just his stability that helped Atleti reach the last eight, either. He was arguably one of the heroes of their round of 16 triumph, making two stops in a penalty shootout as the Spanish side overcame a 2-0 aggregate disadvantage to force spot kicks.

His reputation as a picture of reliability for a modern goalkeeper could grow this summer, when he plays in the Euros for the first time after Slovenia qualified for the competition for the first time since 2000. Oblak is far from the team's only talent -- Benjamin Sesko scored five goals in qualifying -- but he is undoubtedly their leader, not only because he wears the armband. Slovenia conceded just nine goals in 10 games, and Oblak recorded three clean sheets en route to Germany. He will most likely be the anchor of their ship at the Euros and may have some more big game moments in him this summer. -- Pardeep Cattry

80. Jack Grealish -- Left Wing, Manchester City

Manchester City's greatest success is that it can hang onto some of the world's top talents and break them out when need be. The opportunities to play come more often for some than others, but the chances come for most of City's core and considering the stockpile the reigning Premier League winners have, each of the players on the roster is bound to make an impact. That includes Jack Grealish, who may have had a smaller role than he preferred during the 2023-24 season, but still demonstrated his skill set en route to their fourth successive title.

Grealish scored three goals and recorded three assists during the campaign, some of his best games coming in the fall. The England international was arguably at his best during City's 3-0 win over Manchester United, when the champions perfected their possession-based style to out-pass the rivals and render them useless. Grealish was a big part of their harmonious but ruthless display, demonstrating an impressive awareness in attack. He posted a 92.3% passing accuracy in the attacking third, taking five shots and creating one chance in the process.

His role dwindled as the season went on, but even as he played almost exclusively on days Pep Guardiola rotated through the team, his talents were clear. Grealish posted similar numbers towards the end of the season, including big wins over Aston Villa and Crystal Palace during City's end-of-season race to the top. His less-than-ideal season at City means Grealish has a big summer ahead of him at the Euros, three years after he impressed enough with England to even earn a big money move to Manchester. The standard will be high -- England head into the competition as the favorites -- but Grealish's midfield flair has only improved under Guardiola's stewardship. He should be up for the task, if called upon. -- Pardeep Cattry

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81. Christian Pulisic -- Winger, AC Milan

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What's a list of top players in the world without the current Captain America on it? Possibly the best American soccer player ever produced, Pulisic has won a Champions Leauge title with Chelsea, a DFB Pokal with Borussia Dortmund along with multiple honors for the United States men's national team. Now, entering the prime of his career with Milan, it seems like Pulisic is enjoying his soccer while also producing results with it. Still only 25, the versatile attacker has yet to even enter the prime of his career ahead of an important summer where he'll lead the USMNT during Copa America on home soil. 

Things are trending well ahead of 2026 which could be a crowning year in Pulisic's career with a chance to lead the USMNT at a World Cup on home soil. Growing in his role in Serie A will set him up well but so will the fact that Pulisic has been a world traveler able to integrate in three of the five major European Leagues while scoring along the way shows that even if Pulisic just continues to do what he has done that he'll go down as one of the best American careers ever. For more on Pulisic, don't miss this full breakdown on why he made the list and what it says about American talent. -- Chuck Booth

82. Luis Díaz -- Left Wing, Liverpool

One of the focal points of Jurgen Klopp's final Liverpool team was the embarrassment of riches he had in attack. Not only did he have several noteworthy players to choose from, he also had enough options to rotate through as the Reds made deep runs in four different competitions. Even as Klopp spread the love, some players naturally ranked above others in the team's most important games. Luis Diaz was on the pitch more often than not to generate -- and score -- chances.

Diaz scored 13 goals and recorded five assists in 51 games this season, doing his part in Klopp's final season. He did so on important occasions, too -- he scored in extra time of Liverpool's second leg of their EFL Cup semifinal against Fulham, sending them to the final and playing a big role in the team that won the trophy. He also managed to carve a place for himself amongst the top attackers in the Premier League this season, ranking within the top 20 for expected goals with 11.88, shots with 95 and chances created with 64. The 27-year-old will be counted on to impress for Colombia at the Copa America, a few short months after scoring twice for Los Cafeteros in their first-ever World Cup qualifying win over Brazil in November. Diaz has a habit of emerging from a crowded field as a dependable attacking force, offering both his club and country a healthy chance to win each and every time he's on the pitch. -- Pardeep Cattry

83. Viktor Gyokeres -- Striker, Sporting CP

A winger turned striker, Victor Gyokeres has broken out since moving to Sporting Lisbon. From being a relative unknown in Brighton's academy to emerging as a dangerous attacker with potential at Coventry City to now now showing that he's the real deal in Portugal, Gyokeres' improvement under Rubin Amorim has been striking. Some forwards are the type to artfully curl shots into the net, but not Gyokeres who strikes every ball like it will be his last. Making the net ripple with every goal, the Swedish striker puts a venom on the ball that even if a keeper gets their hand to it, they may not stop it. It may be an interesting summer for him as transfer interest grows, but it's rightly deserved. Add his abilities with the ball to strength retaining it and being good at pressing and it makes a forward who any manager would want. It's unfortunate that he won't be at Euro 2024, but it does provide the added benefit that he'll be well rested entering the season, wherever that season may be. -- Chuck Booth

84. Mike Maignan -- Goalkeeper, AC Milan

Established as France's undisputed No. 1 since the retirement of Hugo Lloris after the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, this summer's UEFA Euro 2024 is the first chance for Milan's shot stopper to make a name for himself at international level. On the club scene, consecutive titles in Ligue 1 and then Serie A have been added to by the UEFA Nations League with Les Bleus and Maignan is finally getting the overdue silverware and individual recognition that his ability warrants. The 28-year-old French Guiana-born Rossoneri goalkeeper is considered one of the best in Europe right now and formative club Paris Saint-Germain's decision to sign Gianluigi Donnarumma which paved the way for Maignan's Italy switch looks questionable from the French giants given their push for domestic talent of late. Expect to see this late bloomer rival the likes of Thibaut Courtois in being recognized as Europe's best netminder over the next few years and possibly even being coveted by a continental juggernaut before the age of 30. -- Jonathan Johnson

85. Lois Openda --  Striker, RB Leipzig

Few expected the Belgium international to maintain his hot form with RC Lens quite as spectacularly as he managed to do during his first season with RB Leipzig with 28 goals and seven assists across all competitions including a first taste of UEFA Champions League action. Openda is one of European soccer's most in-form strikers at present and is expected to take that clinical edge into this summer's UEFA Euro 2024 with the Belgians which could make Domenico Tedesco's men dark horses in Germany, which is where the RBL man now plies his trade. Die Roten Bullen are known as a stepping stone club despite their regular continental forays so the chances are that Openda or strike partner Benjamin Sesko will be wanted men sooner rather than later. However, the 24-year-old along with Xavi Simons was one of the Bundesliga outfit's top performers all year long and will have another shot at the UCL next term before a potential suitor comes calling. -- Jonathan Johnson

86. Karim Benzema -- Striker, Al-Ittihad

It seems like only yesterday that the French superstar was being crowned Ballon d'Or winner after some unstoppable form with Real Madrid, but things are a far cry from that glorious moment in Paris less than two calendar years later. Benzema, like a few others on this list, benefits from form being temporary and class being permanent -- his Al-Ittihad spell in Saudi Arabia has certainly not been going according to plan so far since his arrival to great fanfare last summer. The former Olympique Lyonnais man's incredible trophy haul with Real -- notably five UEFA Champions League and four La Liga titles -- will live long in the memory but it is hard not to feel that the 36-year-old's final few years are fading into obscurity. With fellow Al-Ittihad man N'Golo Kante still holding down a UEFA Euro 2024 squad berth despite being out of European soccer for a year now, it could be that the end of Benzema's international career with France brought about the premature closure of his club days too. -- Jonathan Johnson

87. Manuel Neuer -- Goalkeeper, Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer's reputation as one of the game's best goalkeepers is already set. The World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner is considered a trendsetter for today's shot-stoppers, skilled with his feet in a way that was once unique, but is now the standard for the game's elite goalkeepers. At 38 years old, there's no need to reinvent the wheel for Neuer but he impressively remains a valuable asset for both Bayern Munich and Germany, even as both storied teams hit a period of uncertainty.

He had to overcome his own hurdles to keep his stock high nearly a decade after winning the World Cup, though. Neuer spent the better part of a year away from the pitch after fracturing his right knee during a ski trip in December 2022, but played his first game in 350 days when Bayern beat Darmstadt 8-0 in October of last year. He has since collected new individual records in his comeback year, chief among them breaking Iker Casillas' record for most clean sheets in the Champions League. Neuer now has 58 clean sheets to his name in European competition, the most recent of which came in Bayern's 1-0 win over Arsenal in the quarterfinals, when the usually attack-minded team delivered a defensive masterclass.

How Manuel Neuer compared to other goalkeepers in last season's Bundesliga TruMedia

He can still come up big against the best players in the game, too. Look no further than their second leg semifinal tie against Real Madrid, when Neuer made five saves in a loss. The icon may be in the twilight of his career, but there's no reason to suggest he's behind the pace at the elite levels of the game just yet. -- Pardeep Cattry

88. Dusan Vlahovic -- Striker, Juventus

The Serbian striker had a very strong season at Juventus after a disappointing start and is now set to start a new chapter under Thiago Motta at the club after the Euros he will play with Serbia. Apart from the 18 goals scored in all competitions this campaign, Vlahovic finally seemed to be finally back at the level he was at Fiorentina before signing for Juventus. The feeling is that he can only improve under Motta, and a lot will also depend on how Juventus will play next season when they will also be back to play Champions League soccer. So far, Vlahovic performed better when he was playing with another striker playing next to him, rather than in the 4-3-3. If the Serbian striker will be able to make that extra step we are all expecting, we should consider him among the best ones around Europe. –  Francesco Porzio

89. Neymar -- Left Wing, Al-Hillal

Just about scraping onto this list, despite not having played much soccer in the best part of two years is the Brazilian superstar who does not even have a goal to his name with Al Hilal yet after making a mega money move from Paris Saint-Germain last summer. Neymar is now 32, and although he remains important for his country and a darling of the nation, his best days are definitively behind him, and it is unlikely that he will be featuring in many more lists like these unless there is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes. Given how injury-prone the South American has been in recent years, it might be a better plan to get back to playing regularly before considering whether European soccer is worth one final crack. A brilliant player on his day but not consistent nor motivated enough over the final meaningful years of his career means that this feels like things ending in ignominy unless Neymar can summon huge inner strength and belief to get back to something close to his best one final time. -- Jonathan Johnson

90. Joao Cancelo -- Fullback, Barcelona

When he started to show all promise at Valencia a decade ago (how is he already 30 years old?), he looked destined for superstardom. Another Portuguese prodigy ripped from Benfica for big money, only to then play for Inter Milan, Juventus, Manchester CityBayern Munich and Barcelona in a six-year span. While his maturity is often questioned, his ability is not. He's as fast as they make them, he can dominate you with his technical skill, and even though he's a fullback, he's an attack-minded player with all the potential in the world. 

His four goals for Barca this season are a career high, and despite those defensive woes, he offers enough to be on this list due to talent and production.

Now, if he were simply playing as an attacking winger (I think he should), I think he'd be much higher on his list because he does posses the skill to set up his teammates and create space to cross it in from the wing. Though he can struggle passing if he drifts centrally, he balances it out with the one-on-one ability. -- Roger Gonzalez

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91. Ademola Lookman -- Forward/Winger, Atalanta

Lists like these are generally a celebration of the glamorous side of sports, featuring players who most anticipated would be stars and lived up to the billing from a young age. Most sports journeys, though, are not linear but a lengthy road to landing in the right place at the right time can be a triumphant one. Just ask Ademola Lookman, who is finally hitting his stride.

The 26-year-old Lookman landed at his sixth club in three countries when he joined Atalanta in 2022. It was one of those moves that attracted limited attention -- the England-born Lookman was chewed up and spit out of the Premier League and landed at a club on the rise but far from anyone's list of top contenders for silverware. Quickly enough, those perceptions did not matter -- he scored on his Serie A debut, a 2-0 win over Sampdoria and scored 15-plus goals in consecutive seasons across all competitions. He mixed that in with acclaim for Nigeria, scoring three goals en route to this year's Africa Cup of Nations final and making the team of the tournament.

Lookman's crowning achievement, though, is the hattrick he scored in this year's UEFA Europa League final in Dublin. The promise many had identified in him once upon a time was clearly on display -- he barely put a foot wrong that day, scoring on each of his shots and beating his defender on just about every occasion. Lookman's success is a reminder that there's no one right way to the top, and there's plenty to celebrate about that. -- Pardeep Cattry

92. Raphinha -- Right Wing, Barcelona

His play might be overshadowed by Barcelona's incredible consistency of being inconsistent, but the Brazil international just wrapped up his third straight season (two at Barca) with double-digit goals. The former Leeds United man can finish in a variety of ways, but it's his ability to be in the right spot at the right time, on top of creating danger down the right, that makes him such a concern for opposing defenses. He figures to have a solid role with the Brazil national team at Copa America, and if it weren't for him, Barca's season probably would have been worse than it already was. 

Raphinha is exceptional when it comes to beating a defender in tight spaces as his ability to react to the slightest hesitation will see him clean through more often than not. With the speed to beat you down the flanks, he does a superb job of putting the ball into dangerous areas for his teammates to finish. -- Roger Gonzalez

93. Vitinha -- Midfield, PSG

The Portuguese midfielder has really come into his own over the last season, becoming an integral part of a Paris Saint-Germain team that made it to the semifinals of the Champions League while also winning Ligue 1 and the French Cup. The 24-year-old Portuguese international joined from Porto in 2022 and had a stellar campaign this season with nine goals in 46 games. His creativity on the ball and ability to shoot from a distance has made him PSG's most dangerous player, arguably, behind Kylian Mbappe. He only needs a little bit of room to launch a rocket, and he seems to enjoy pulling the trigger from range over getting into the box. 

There is no doubt he's more settled in the French capital and his performances indicate a player at the top of his game, with a knack for recovering the ball high up the field just an added bonus to an all-around star. With Mbappe leaving PSG, he is set to become one of the new faces of the club as they pursue European glory, and he's expected to be a key part of Roberto Martinez's Portugal plans this summer at Euro 2024. -- Roger Gonzalez

94. Alvaro Morata -- Striker, Atletico Madrid

The one trait all great strikers share is an ability to find themselves in great scoring positions with frequency. For the best part of half a decade, Alvaro Morata did that, but the ball just did not go in the net as often as it ought to. At almost every club he ended up at he would be the whipping boy, the player who infuriated a portion of the fanbase because so many big chances came and went.

Alvaro Morata's shots in the 2023-24 season, sized by xG value. From 20.9 xG the Atletico Madrid striker scored 21 goals TruMedia

In his second spell at Atletico Madrid, all that has changed, at least at club level. The 31-year-old is admired by his teammates for the quality of his all-around play and the leadership he brings to the locker room. More important even than that, he is scoring goals and more of them than his expected goal total would suggest. His 21 this season are the best of his career so far, while he also has 11 goals in his last 21 caps for Spain. It has taken time and a lot of mis-steps for Morata to get to a peak lower than it might have been if he had ever found a stable environment. Still, the summit he is at now is higher than most. -- James Benge

95. Nico Williams -- Winger, Athletic Club

The Spain international has managed to burst onto the scene at Athletic Bilbao alongside his brother Inaki, who narrowly missed this list, but it is the younger Williams brother who looks destined for stardom. A winger with speed, technical ability and incredible talent, he can beat almost any defender with his super dribbling skills. Defenders are often left with the only recourse being to hack him down as his foul-winning ability is one of the best around. Already a key member of the Spanish team, he's aiming for a deep run at this summer's Euros. 

He continues to improve in his ability to deliver crosses and fire on goal, and those early minutes in his career are paying off for his development with bigger clubs likely to come calling before long. His ability to play on either side of the wing makes him just that much more valuable. -- Roger Gonzalez

96. Anthony Gordon -- Winger, Newcastle 

There's always a level of uncertainty attached to a youth prospect, some of whom unfairly carry the hopes and dreams of idealistic supporters on their shoulders. Newcastle United's £45 million bet in January 2023 to sign Anthony Gordon from Everton was a good one, though, and the 23-year-old's stock is only rising after a career-best season with the Magpies.

Gordon wrote the prologue to his strong first full season in Newcastle at last year's European U-21 Championships, scoring two goals and notching one assist as England won the competition and he picked up the Player of the Tournament award. The follow-up act was just as impressive -- he scored 12 goals and recorded 11 assists in 48 games for Newcastle during the 2023-24 season, behind only Alexander Isak in the former category. Gordon has not just carved out a place in Eddie Howe's lineup but also in the club's history, becoming the first Englishman to score in four league home games in a row for the Magpies since Alan Shearer did so in 1999.

As a changing of the guard takes place at the top levels of the game, Gordon's name is a worthy inclusion amongst talented young players who are emerging as the sport's new stars. There's still room to grow for the 23-year-old, but he is beginning to demonstrate a reliability that serves as a foundational element for any top-tier goal-scorer. -- Pardeep Cattry

97. Dominik Szoboszlai -- Midfield, Liverpool

It's hard to believe he is just 23 years of age, but not long ago he was that teenage sensation starring at Red Bull Salzburg. A move to RB Leipzig and back-to-back 10-goal seasons resulted in the transfer to Liverpool last summer. Since then, he's delivered with seven goals in 45 games with four assists. He's been part of a rebuilt Reds midfield alongside Alexis Mac Allister, and the versatile Hungary international can play wide or centrally. He has the ability to beat a defender one-on-one or deliver clinical vertical passes, while also showing he can put the right amount of touch on a through ball. 

Any coach's dream, he wants to be involved in duels, he seeks contact, and he will fight for the man next to him in any situation. That aggression and toughness can rub off on others, and it was much needed in a Liverpool team that looked like the Europa League and Premier League favorites at one point. -- Roger Gonzalez

98. Teun Koopmeiners -- Midfield, Atalanta

Getty Images

The Dutch midfielder was one of the surprises of the season under Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini. He showed surprising attacking qualities, exploding for 15 goals in all competitions. Those are numbers that are usually reserved for strikers have around Europe. The Dutchman has been a key player for Atalanta since he joined the Italian side in 2021, and has attracted the interests of multiple European clubs, including Juventus, who seem incredibly interested in signing him this summer. Koopmeiners is the type of player who could easily make that jump up in notoriety this summer ahead of the new season, but on the other hand, staying at Atalanta would mean the chance for him to play Champions League soccer with a team that just won their first European trophy against Bayer Leverkusen. Remember his name, Koopmeiners is one of those players that could become one of the biggest names around European soccer over the next few years. – Francesco Porzio 

99. Federico Chiesa -- Winger/Forward, Juventus

The Italian winger narrowly slides onto the list, even though a few years ago he could have been in a higher position. Chiesa, still only 26, had a strong start to his Juventus spell while also winning the Euro 2020 as one of the stars of Roberto Mancini's Italy. However, an ACL injury suffered in January 2022 sidelined him for a whole year and when he came back he was not able to rise to his forrmer level. Over the past two seasons, Chiesa played in different roles as winger in the 4-3-3 and also as a striker in the 3-5-2 as the Bianconeri played, and sometimes not even as a starter. The feeling now is that he needs a coach who can get the best out of him, because the talent is there and there is no reason to think that he can't get back to his previous best. Thiago Motta might be the right manager for him at Juventus, but there are also increasing rumors he might also leave Juventus this summer, as his contract currently expires in 2025. – Francesco Porzio 

100. Ronald Araujo -- Center Back, Barcelona

Continuing the tradition of Uruguay's production of elite center backs, the 25-year-old Rivera native is a menace in the middle. At 6-foot-2, he plays even bigger with his superb aerial ability. He's got speed and power to push nearly any player off the ball with his aggression. A key piece for Marcelo Bielsa's Uruguay national team, if the Charrua make any noise at the Copa America this summer, he will have to play a big role. His 2023-24 season, while strong for an inconsistent Barcelona, will unfortunately be remembered by his questionable red card on Bradley Barcola of PSG in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg. Barca were up 4-2 at that point before their surprising elimination. Those occasional high-profile errors are what keep him from being higher up the list. -- Roger Gonzalez