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Is there one soccer player in the world who is peerless? One who stands apart from the rest of the sublimely talented group playing the beautiful game? That’s what we want to know. After magazine FourFourTwo put together a Top 100 list of the best players in the world, we decided our soccer-crazed selves should delve. While we didn’t do 100 players, seven of us put together our own personal top fives and the results were very out of the ordinary. Selectors could base their picks on any reasoning and gave detailed explanations for why some players were selected and how hard it was to leave others off. Current form seemed to be a very influential factor in the lists, with former top five shoe-in Thierry Henry unable to make a single list. Compared with FourFourTwo, Cesc Fabregas’ start to the season had him in four lists, including making the cut at No. 1 after being tagged at No. 32 by the magazine. The only consistent force was Brazilian maestro Kaka, who made every list and was voted No. 1 two times, No. 2 four times and No. 3 once. All of the varying opinions resulted in five different players being named No. 1 in the world by our panel.

So what players made the lists? A total of 19 different players were picked in the 35 slots (there was one tie) allotted and all of them were deserving in one way or another.

After Kaka ran away with the competition, Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all tallied four votes. Ronaldo was named No. 1 twice and Fabregas received a solitary top vote. Voters noted that even though Ronaldo was off to a bit of a slow start, his play from last year was the culmination of his amazing talent. Messi meanwhile picked up two votes at No. 3 and No. 5. It seemed like voters wanted to put the young Argentine higher after his start to the domestic campaign with Barcelona. Next came teammate Ronaldinho with three total votes. The former World Player of the Year picked up a No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 vote, despite being a bit off form right now.

Next come 14 players who received only one vote. Some were picked for hot starts to their league seasons while others were selected because of their ability to transform a league in a country were soccer is not top dog. Others were rewarded for their dazzling array of tricks and cunning, while others given the nod for steadfastness, defense and efficiency. Rounding out the rest of the selections were: Steven Gerrard (a No. 1), Samuel Eto’o (a No. 2), John Terry (a No. 3), Didier Drogba (a No. 3), Francesco Totti (a No. 4), Wesley Sneijder (a No. 4), Ruud van Nistelrooy (a No. 4), Wayne Rooney (a No. 4), Fernando Torres (a No. 4), Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni (a tie for a No. 5), David Beckham (a No. 5), Nemanja Vidic (a No. 5) and Ricardo Quaresma (a No. 5).

While lists are always going to create arguments and leave some deserving players off, it’s hard to disagree with any single selection. Even Quaresma (who FourFourTwo rated at No. 80) is arguably the second-most talented and exciting Portuguese player after Ronaldo, putting him in pretty good company, and completely underrated by the magazine. Others may argue the merits of Terry and Vidic, but I was glad to see some defenders make the list. These two are just as influential to winning games as their attacking counterparts. While no goalies were selected, the inclusion of Gianluigi Buffon and Petr Cech were hard not to consider.

However, the most exciting thing about these lists is the youth that is represented. Nine of the players are 25 or younger and 11 are 26 or younger, with Gerrard and Ronaldinho both being 27. So it looks like the future of soccer is bright and these kinds of lists will only become more difficult to make.


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