Introduction to the list.
The list so far:
200: Alberto Zapater - Genoa - Spain
199: Nikola Zigic - Valencia - Serbia
198: Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid - Spain
197: Lucio - Inter - Brazil
196: John Obi Mikel - Chelsea - Nigeria
195: Sergio Busquets - Barcelona - Spain
194: Philippe Mexes - Roma -France
193: Anatolij Tymoshchuk - Bayern München - Ukraine
192: Theo Walcott - Arsenal - England
191: Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal - Wales
190: Pepe - Real Madrid - Portugal
189: Sergei Semak - Rubin Kazan - Russia
188: Alberto Aquilani - Liverpool - Italy
187: Clarence Seedorf - Milan - Holland
186: Diego Capel - Sevilla - Spain
185: Yossi Benayoun - Liverpool - Israel
184: Riccardo Montolivo - Fiorentina - Italy
183: Kolo Toure - Manchester City -Côte d'Ivoire
182: Yuri Zhirkov - Chelsea - Russia
And it continues:
Martin Demichelis - Bayern Münich - Argentina
The thing he is holding there is his talisman. Maybe it's what saved him from being dumped from the list? Cause it got pretty pretty (Larry David style) pretty close.
At first I had Demichelis much higher. I was thinking here is someone who can do a good job both as a central defender and defensive midfielder. That's some value right there and a very useful player I thought.
He was ahead of so many of the players coming up, but at some point for whatever reason it just started looking silly. It looked wrong!
And it's entirely possible that some of the players he is STILL ahead of STILL makes it look a little silly. I'm not even sure anymore...
I'm not sure how much defensive midfielder he has actually played in recent years either, and also recently it hasn't exactly been easy to look any good at all as a central defender for Bayern.
Worst of course last season when Klinsmann was still the manager and made it a rule to organize the team in a fashion ensuring as many defensive holes as humanly possible.
That has cost lower ranked Lucio some spots I'm sure, and someone who I suspect would look good on a lot of teams, Daniel Van Buyten didn't even make the list.
Demichelis however remains. He is pretty good at everything in two different positions. That's not so bad when you think about it.
Marouane Fellaini - Everton - Belgium
The most expensive Belgium player of all time and Everton's highest purchase of all time as well, unfortunately hasn't had a great start to the season and that has affected his ranking some.
However with how good he was last season, a key contributor to Everton's impressive repeat 5th place in the league, I expect him to perform much better, sooner rather than later.
Fellaini is something increasingly rare these days, a tremendous box to box player. He defends. He attacks. From one end to the other. He has great stamina and can really put it to use.
Then there is his his height which makes him effective in the air. Something always useful whether in his own team's box or the opponent's, where he has shown himself to be a good goalscoring threat.
When it comes to passing he is not as impressive as some of the midfielders already listed and it's possible his ball control could improve as well, but make no mistake about it, with his size, despite looking skinny he does have great balance which of course really helps.
He is someone potentially commanding football games but I do think he could improve his defensive discipline. Work hard is one thing, needlessly flying around in tackles is another and he'd well adviced to put that great energy into great positional play moreso than into reckless tackles.
If he can improve/add even some of those elements to his impressive box to box play he will have an excellent case for a much much higher placing.
Cristian Zapata - Udinese - Colombia
I'm not sure what there have been more of in recent years for Zapata, various injury problems or various big clubs he has been linked to.
I think that with a good injury free run he would have been at a big club already and very likely higher ranked too. That hasn't happened though but with the athleticism and skill he has shown both as a central defender and right-back he just had to make the list.
And while he may settle, depending on where he ends up, as "just" a central defender, his size would indicate such, I think that right now there aren't really many if any, as able as Zapata to play both as a central defender and fullback as well as him when on form.
Unfortunately it's only been in glimpses and last season especially was disappointing. I even remember some horrible individual errors in Serie A when he played but I wonder how much of that was due to the lack of a good injury free run, in fact he was coming back from missing 6 months, errors like those are not really something I remember from the seasons where he played more and I haven't seen any this year either.
Anyway it's too early to say if his sky high potential has been severely damaged by the injuries or how much they will affect him in the future.
With this ranking I'm definitely not writing him off but also being a bit cautious as I'm still uncertain where exactly he is right now, let alone how far he will go.
If this was made a couple of years ago, before all the adversity, I don't think I would have hesitated jumping the gun and based on his obvious talent and high level of play, ranked him very high.
Just like I have with some of the, yet to come, young stars now.
Who I hope will have a lot more luck with injuries than Zapata.
Tim Cahill - Everton - Australia
Yet another really tough player to rank. Some years ago, Ballon d'Or nominee and everything, a a much higher ranking would have seemed obvious, but rightly or wrongly, it's my impression that Cahill has slowed down some, or at least at the moment isn't quite on the same level as the last few years.
He still has a good work rate and in the opponent's penalty area of course is a very proven goal scorer with both head (especially that) and feet but overall it just seems that it's to a lesser extent than before.
Though decent enough in his own right Cahill's never been a great technical player, this list will be full of better ones, but what set(s) him apart are the things above (workrate/goalscoring) and if those two great qualities are lesser now because of presumably less effective movement he loses some real value.
Though he is not old yet at 29, he has had some serious injuries along the way and that could be a reason for any correctly perceived slowdown or decline.
One interesting thing to look out for at Everton is to what extent Cahill and Fellaini will play together or if one, they do share a lot of qualities, will be preferred over the other. Earlier this season manager David Moyes expressed doubts over fitting them both in at the same time and commented it was a real dilemma.
I suspect for now at least, just like on this list, Cahill will still be ahead but if not able to find room for both (Arteta at some point will come back too) I don't think Cahill should be given a long a leach at all.
Meaning if he isn't just as effective in the final third as he used to be, Fellaini younger and stronger likely will be, it's only a matter of time anyway, and should be given the chance.
Paul Scholes - Manchester United - England
35 years old now and obviously not going... Quite as strong.
When he first came up, if anyone remember, he was actually a striker but that was relatively short lived and he quickly became a very good attacking midfielder and then at some point gradually developed into a superb all around midfielder contributing effectively both to attack and defense, and doing it day in and day out.
That I think is the biggest difference from now and to then. Then being when he was one of the very best in the world. Say at least 100 places better than this.
He does still have those games where he will do all the things he is so good at and do it almost as good as ever, but it's not every game anymore, in fact it can be pretty far between sometimes. Too far between. There just isn't the same consistency.
If I think that Cahill has slowed down then I know that Paul Scholes has. But of course when it comes to quality he has something of a head start over most, hence him still being ranked ahead of a lot of very good players.
Scholes is a very good passer, probably underrated over the years when it comes to that, short or long and very direct, established attack or in transition, Scholes can deliver.
Especially when keeping the pressure on an opponent like Manchester United have done time and time again in the Ferguson era, Scholes has been a key player in forcing and forcing (and forcing!) the tempo, contributing through great work both with and without the ball, into reaching a final frenzy where eventually the poor opponents just could not keep up anymore and succumb. Usually by some time in the final minutes with United grabbing a late winner or equalizer...
Over the years I think, the higher the tempo the better the performance from Scholes. Dynamic runs, booming shots on goal, quick turns with the ball, crunching tackles and direct passing.
Scholes could do all those things very well even when the tempo was high (on the flip-side when it was not so high, like occasionaly in Europe, what most would stand out sometimes from Scholes would be those trademark dumb tackles).
But even if now as a veteran he can only bring that "A -game" some of the time it's still enough to earn him a place on the list