Ranking the 100 best players at the 2018 World Cup, from Lionel Messi to Jordan Henderson

FC Yahoo

With the 2018 World Cup fast approaching, and with all 32 final rosters announced, Yahoo Sports set out to rank the 100 best players you’ll see on fields in Russia this summer.

[Yahoo Sports’ 2018 World Cup preview hub]

It was, inherently, a near-impossible task. There are no objective metrics for cross-position comparisons. There is no valid way to adjust for strength of competition or teammates.

Nonetheless, we tried. The result – 100 names, in order from best to, uh, not best – is below. But first, some numbers and notes:

Top 100, by the numbers

  • The nation with the most players on the list? It’s a tie between Brazil and Spain at 16. France and Germany are level in third with 13 apiece. Belgium is fifth with nine.

  • Spain’s entire starting 11 – or at least possible starting 11 – makes the top 50.

  • Twenty different nations are represented in the top 100. The best team not represented? Mexico – by far.

  • Nine different countries are represented in the top 10.

  • Portugal, the reigning European champion, has just two players in the top 100.

  • Even with Leroy Sane left off Germany’s squad, Manchester City leads the way among clubs with 13 players in the top 100. Barcelona is second with 12. Its Clasico rival, Real Madrid, is hot on its tail with 11. Tottenham is fourth with nine. Bayern Munich is fifth with eight.

  • Four Real Madrid players cracked the top 10. Only one other club, PSG, had multiple players in the top 10.

  • 23 different clubs from six different leagues are represented. But those numbers will drop to 21 and five if/when Leon Goretzka officially moves to Bayern Munich and Fred completes his move to Manchester United.

  • All 100 players, as expected, are based in Europe.

  • Only one teenager made the list … and he came in at No. 9.

  • Of the 100 players, 41 are midfielders; 24 are defenders; 21 are forwards; eight are goalkeepers; five were listed as midfielders/forwards, and one was listed as a defender/midfielder.

Spoiler alert: Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo occupy the top three spots in our 2018 World Cup player rankings. (Getty)
Spoiler alert: Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo occupy the top three spots in our 2018 World Cup player rankings. (Getty)

Now, on to the rankings. If you want the reasoning behind them, you can find it here (1-20), here (21-50) and here (51-100).

Top 100 players at the World Cup

1. Lionel Messi, F, Argentina/Barcelona
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, F, Portugal/Real Madrid
3. Neymar, F, Brazil/PSG
4. Kevin De Bruyne, M, Belgium/Manchester City
5. Mohamed Salah, F, Egypt/Liverpool
6. David De Gea, G, Spain/Manchester United
7. Luka Modric, M, Croatia/Real Madrid
8. Sergio Ramos, D, Spain/Real Madrid
9. Kylian Mbappe, F, France/PSG
10. Toni Kroos, M, Germany/Real Madrid
11. N’Golo Kante, M, France/Chelsea
12. Eden Hazard, M/F, Belgium/Chelsea
13. Robert Lewandowski, F, Poland/Bayern Munich
14. Manuel Neuer, G, Germany/Bayern Munich
15. Antoine Griezmann, F, France/Atletico Madrid
16. Harry Kane, F, England/Tottenham
17. Marcelo, D, Brazil/Real Madrid
18. Paul Pogba, M, France/Manchester United
19. Isco, M, Spain/Real Madrid
20. Mats Hummels, D, Germany/Bayern Munich

Analysis: Breaking down the top 20

21. David Silva, M, Spain/Manchester City
22. Philippe Coutinho, M, Brazil/Barcelona
23. Luis Suarez, F, Uruguay/Barcelona
24. Christian Eriksen, M, Denmark/Tottenham
25. Mesut Ozil, M, Germany/Arsenal
26. Gerard Pique, D, Spain/Barcelona
27. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, G, Germany/Barcelona
28. Paulo Dybala, M/F, Argentina/Juventus
29. Thiago Alcantara, M, Spain/Bayern Munich
30. Casemiro, M, Brazil/Real Madrid
31. Andres Iniesta, M, Spain/Barcelona
32. Raheem Sterling, F, England/Manchester City
33. Joshua Kimmich, D, Germany/Bayern Munich
34. Sergio Busquets, M, Spain/Barcelona
35. Sergio Aguero, F, Argentina/Manchester City
36. James Rodriguez, M, Colombia/Bayern Munich
37. Dani Carvajal, D, Spain/Real Madrid
38. Edinson Cavani, F, Uruguay/PSG
39. Thomas Muller, M/F, Germany/Bayern Munich
40. Gabriel Jesus, F, Brazil/Manchester City
41. Jan Vertonghen, D, Belgium/Tottenham
42. Dries Mertens, F, Belgium/Napoli
43. Sadio Mane, F, Senegal/Liverpool
44. Mousa Dembele, M, Belgium/Tottenham
45. Fernandinho, M, Brazil/Manchester City
46. Raphael Varane, D, France/Real Madrid
47. Jordi Alba, D, Spain/Barcelona
48. Diego Costa, F, Spain/Atletico Madrid
49. Ilkay Gundogan, M, Germany/Manchester City
50. Ousmane Dembele, M/F, France/Barcelona

Analysis: Breaking down players 21-50

51. Kyle Walker, D, England/Manchester City
52. Samuel Umtiti, D, France/Barcelona
53. Dele Alli, M, England/Tottenham
54. Ivan Rakitic, M, Croatia/Barcelona
55. Roberto Firmino, F, Brazil/Liverpool
56. Romelu Lukaku, F, Belgium/Manchester United
57. Bernardo Silva, M, Portugal/Manchester City
58. Gonzalo Higuain, F, Argentina/Juventus
59. Sami Khedira, M, Germany/Juventus
60. Koke, M, Spain/Atletico Madrid
61. Kalidou Koulibaly, D, Senegal/Napoli
62. Alisson, G, Brazil/Roma
63. Ederson, G, Brazil/Manchester City
64. Nabil Fekir, M, France/Lyon
65. Joao Miranda, D, Brazil/Inter Milan
66. Diego Godin, D, Uruguay/Atletico Madrid
67. Thibaut Courtois, G, Belgium/Chelsea
68. Jerome Boateng, D, Germany/Bayern Munich
69. Willian, M, Brazil/Chelsea
70. Florian Thauvin, M/F, France/Marseille
71. Marquinhos, D, Brazil/PSG
72. Saul Niguez, M, Spain/Atletico Madrid
73. Thomas Lemar, M, France/Monaco
74. Toby Alderweireld, D, Belgium/Tottenham
75. Nemanja Matic, M, Serbia/Manchester United

Analysis: Breaking down players 51-100

76. Douglas Costa, M, Brazil/Juventus
77. Blaise Matuidi, M, France/Juventus
78. Son Heung-Min, F, South Korea/Tottenham
79. Iago Aspas, F, Spain/Celta Vigo
80. Cesar Azpilicueta, D, Spain/Chelsea
81. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, M, Serbia/Lazio
82. Angel Di Maria, M, Argentina/PSG
83. Nicolas Otamendi, D, Argentina/Manchester City
84. Keylor Navas, G, Costa Rica/Real Madrid
85. Benjamin Mendy, D, France/Manchester City
86. Julian Draxler, M, Germany/PSG
87. Leon Goretzka, M, Germany/Schalke
88. Paulinho, M, Brazil/Barcelona
89. Eric Dier, D/M, England/Tottenham
90. Hugo Lloris, G, France/Tottenham
91. Jose Maria Gimenez, D, Uruguay/Atletico Madrid
92. Thiago Silva, D, Brazil/PSG
93. Marco Asensio, M, Spain/Real Madrid
94. Vincent Kompany, D, Belgium/Manchester City
95. Granit Xhaka, M, Switzerland/Arsenal
96. Medhi Benatia, D, Morocco/Juventus
97. Ivan Perisic, M, Croatia/Inter Milan
98. Fred, M, Brazil/Shakhtar Donetsk
99. Marco Reus, M, Germany/Borussia Dortmund
100. Jordan Henderson, M, England/Liverpool

More on the top 100: 1-20 | 21-50 | 51-100

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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