søndag den 1. november 2009

The 200 best players in the world: 200 - 195

And so it slowly begins!

By the way feel very free to comment about anything and you could even do your own rankings as I go along!
Like for an example, of these five players who do you think is the best?


Ah I see.

Anyway, here is my long awaited first take (of many):

200 :

Alberto Zapater

Central midfielder - Genoa - Spain

Zapater makes the list because he has no real weaknesses. He is a tactical strong player who has managed to fit into Gasperini's demanding system at Genoa very well with strong two way play.
When that is defending he is a hard working player and a good tackler and when it's in possession he is good playmaker with considerable passing skills, especially from deeper on the pitch, able to fluently spread the play. Not least benefiting Genoa's always forward storming "wings".

At 24 after starting out at Zaragoza he has been a regular starter at a high level since his teen years and is already closing in on 200 league games. That experience shows with his usually good decision making.
Finally he is also something of set piece specialist able to create goals from there. For himself or for others.

It will be interesting to follow his career from here on out. His ballcontrol probably isn't great enough to be a prominent midfielder for a top Spanish side or their national team for that matter. but even though the competition is absurd I don't think I'll entirely rule out him eventually getting a chance as a defensive midfielder.
Certainly someone like the excellent Marco Senna at 33 now isn't getting younger so in not too long there will be one more squad place available there.
Maybe Zapater eventually at least can come into consideration. He wouldn't be undeserving.


Nikola Žigić

Striker -Valencia - Serbia

Zigic 202 cm (6'8), one of the tallest players around has had a somewhat tumultuous career. At one point a few years ago he even quit stating he had no desire left for the game anymore.
Fortunately he didn't go through on that but you have to wonder how he is feeling at the moment, when he ever since his big money move on the picture above, has seen very limited playing time for Valencia.

They still prefer playing David Villa surrounded by an army of excellent forwards and wings and while it's certainly easy to see Zigic also being very effective in that mix, he just hasn't been getting many chances.
Not that he necessarily should mind you, not least because he'll be far from the last Valencia player to feature on this list!

But when you have seen him play. Mainly for Serbia and for his former club Racing Santander, including recent loan spells, what you see is the kind of physical strength/ability combination that with more regular playing time would justify an even higher ranking and have for similar players.
He is obviously strong in the air and just strong in general, but he has technical ability too, ball control which makes him good with his back to the goal and on top of that I actually think his shot and ability to find and exploit space between defenders arguably is better than similar to him but higher ranked players.
So he really should be higher! But he needs to play and hopefully he will somewhere soon.
In permanent crisis financially Valencia could definitely use the money if they were to sell him and it's very possible that a good World Cup, where we will see him, is what could trigger a move.
At 29 it's not like he has unlimited time left.


Sergio Ramos

Fullback/Defender - Real Madrid - Spain

Too high? Or maybe way too low even?
I can say that Ramos more than most when performing the impossible job of putting all these players in some kind of respectable order has enjoyed more of a roller-coaster ride than most.
From pretty high to sort of in the middle of things, THEN jumping back up to a very high ranking, but now here the poor man is, near the very bottom..
But at least he made the list! That's worth something!
Like minded attacking spirits like Fabio Grosso or Glen Johnson did not!

What speaks in Ramos favor is that when it comes to contributing to attack he has skills so good that they're right up there with the very best at his position. The flip side then of course being that he can be pretty awful at defending. Not just in the rare instances when he is actually in position mano-a-mano, but much worse all the times when poor discipline and Ramos way out of position creates unbalance for his team, so bad it often means letting in goals.
In the case of Ramos some kind of precise + - assessment of Ramos value, goals for and against, would definitely be welcome when deciding his ranking compared to others.
For Spain, a team in superb balance in recent years, I think overall you have to say that his contribution is mostly a positive thing. I suspect the same would be the case if he played for the current Barcelona or even his former team Sevilla, but in the end a lingering suspicion of him actually having hurt, more than helped, Real Madrid in recent years, is what keeps him this low.

When your team takes a drastic measure like removing a player from a position where he clearly is better suited on to somewhere where he just isn't very good, in this case central defense, that is a pretty alarming sign actually going as far as to suggest that we here have a player unwilling to make tactical adjustments for the team's benefit!
That in itself sounds almost crazy but why else remove him from somewhere where he could do so much good if it isn't that he is doing very bad, to the team!

SIGH, before I decide too take him remove him from the list all together, meaning more revamping, I should probably just move on to:



Defender - Inter - Brazil

For years and years a very good player not least known for his ability to go forward.
He has great technique, whether it's controlling the ball or passing it out of the defensive ranks and he is also great in the air and strong man to man facing an attacker.

He also has this great desire to win I've noticed and really always plays with very high intensity.
Now when rating players that's probably very overrated usually, but I feel like mentioning it since Brazilians often have a reputation for exactly the opposite. You know, they're so lazy!

But all in all that sounds like pretty much the perfect defender huh? Well unfortunately Lucio has become painfully slow. Not that he was very fast, at least not on the first meters, to begin with, but he is much slower now! And when you combine that with his not exactly famous ability for spot on safety first positioning you have a player who at times can actually be something of a liability.

However the key will obviously be to adjust, position himself much more carefully, and by the way I'm sure Mourinho will "help" him with that, and he will still be a good defender and one who with all his technical ability and shear strenght, is fully worthy of a place on this list!


Jon Obi Mikel

Central Midfielder - Chelsea - Nigeria

Speaking of physical ability and good technique we have one here so capable of both that he probably should be way higher.
Unfortunately, like I've written about several times in other entries, Ancelotti's midfield Chelsea diamond and with the other player characteristics in and around it, very much requiring non slow short passing distribution to be very effective, that's just something that has not been a good friend of Mikel and he has really struggled in it:

Again things started of slow with too much short passing going through Mikel resulting in nothing positive except for Hull that is.
I do think Mikel is a good player who when the first few times I saw him thought would become an excellent one. Of that I'm not so sure anymore. But he is very strong and can do the simple things and play an effective holding midfielder role.

What he just isn't though is any kind of effective distributor in what is clearly meant to be an attacking possession game. He won't make that very good pass to people making runs in front of him and won't make a quick first touch pass to a Bosingwa coming forward. Or be part of a nice one-two or triangle with his colleagues in the diamond.

That unfortunately was his role however so he did look to do those things but the result was turnovers and/or momentum for Hull. He was never comfortable and either took too long on the ball, lost it or both.
Resulting in 1-0 for Hull and Mikel getting substituted at halftime.

It's not like he is a bad passer of the ball or has bad ball control (definitely not that).
He has just been way too slow and when trying to quicken things has made errors. Not good! And definitely a clear weakness for a player who on the surface at his time at Chelsea (there is that lack of pace and the reckless temper BUT other than that) had looked like he didn't really have any! Well he does, and that's why he is so low I guess, behind several of central midfielders yet to come.


Sergio Busquets

Central midfielder - Barcelona - Spain

The first one of those (midfielders that Mikel finds himself behind, please pay attention) is young Barcelona player Sergio Busquets.

His father was a not very good goalkeeper and just a few months ago I would have been inclined to put a similar not very good stamp on Busquets.

Not that he wasn't talented but he did look out of place and too many levels below what was surrounding him on the Barca midfield. Quite simply he looked like he still had a long way to go.

Enter this season and I see he has improved exactly what I see someone like Mikel is lacking.
That very good passing ability. One touch passing too. Long AND short. Some actual deep lying playmaker ability.

And with that already blending in much better than he did last season. It's a really quick, really drastic improvement I think.
Now it's of course very possible that the technical ability was already in place. Last season too. And it's just the added experience we're now seeing the results of. That coming up from the youth team he is now more comfortable at the highest level where you have less time on the ball.
Either way, whether it's technical or mental, we are seeing it now in full flow, and how far he will eventually go will now depend on how good he becomes physically and defensively where of course right now he is nowhere near someone like Mikel.
He has good size though so really you would think everything is in place for him to become one of the best midfielders in the world.

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