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
181: Martin Demichelis - Bayern Munich - Argentina
180: Marouane Fellaini - Everton - Belgium
179: Cristian Zapata - Udinese - Colombia
178: Tim Cahill - Everton - Australia
177: Paul Scholes - Manchester United - England
176: Arda Turan - Galatasaray - Turkey
175: Ezequiel Lavezzi - Napoli - Argentina
174: Klaas Jan Huntelaar - AC Milan - The Netherlands
173: William Gallas - Arsenal - France
172: Shaun Wright Phillips - Manchester City - England
171: Pavel Pogrebnyak - VBF Stuttgart - Russia
170: Darijo Srna - Shakhtar Donetsk - Croatia
Bojan Krkic and Pedro - Barcelona - Spain
The first and only shared ranking on this list I promise!
For some reason it just seemed appropriate.
In some ways it could be argued that they're both a little too unproven to sit this comfortable on the list or even to be included at all.
Bojan is someone who has been surrounded by a lot of hype since pretty much day one of his adulthood but this season so far has been slow for him and he now finds himself fighting for playing time, with among others of course Pedro, who unlike Bojan, at least for outsiders, kind of came out of the blue this season after previously mostly playing for Barcelona B .
He had just 5 first team starts last season and didn't really make much of a mark.
This season however with stars such as Iniesta, Henry and Bojan all battling fitness issues he received a chance to play first team Barca football and took it so well that he still, following all of these stars to various extents having been back, is getting plenty of playing time.
Pedro is a skilled attacking player who can make effective runs so that the Barca playmakers can find him and then when he gets the ball he has excellent control.
He is comfortable on either wing and he seems superior to Bojan when it comes to such things as general effectiveness in the area, especially centrally and not least in Guardiola's all important systematic immediate pressure on the opposition ball-holder whenever possession's been lost.
Spain manager del Bosque has declared him a serious candidate for the World Cup and considering the absurd amount of talent he is up against at his position that's a serious endorsement of the kind of talent that he has been displaying this season.
The kind of talent that in just a few months could make this list look rather silly by not having been included!
Yesterday when he scored one of the goals in Barcelona's World Club Championship win over Estudiantes he even set the curious record of being the first player to score in six different competitions in a single season following strikes in the European Super Cup, La Liga, Copa del Rey, the Champions League and the Spanish Super Cup...
Then there is Bojan who it needs to be said is three years younger than Pedro and has already been a star for years, with a much slower start to the season and it could be argued that even last season was a personal disappointment for him. But then again expectations were very high.
He just has those glimpses of great pace and extraordinary dribbling skills that make people expect the world of him.
And that he in stature and style reminds people of his teammate Messi doesn't help lowering expectations either.
Physically is where the obvious improvements can be made. Bojan is a very skilled finisher (over the years he has nettet 500 goals for various Barca youth teams) but needs better off the ball work so he can find himself in better positions more often (when playing with the big boys). Especially when we're talking centrally in the final third.
He is much better coming from the wing where he can use his acceleration into actual space but then another physical problem enters in that he can't defend very well and that rivals like Henry, Iniesta, Messi and now Pedro are more able to put effective pressure on the opponent ballholder whenever the possession is lost.
Ronaldinho - AC Milan - Brazil
Not on the first,second or third version of this list but with some timely reminders lately of the incredible talent that's still there, the clown prince makes a late entry after all.
But first let's take a look at why he almost didn't make it.
While he is still a supremely skilled player he has been something of a team killer in recent years. Killer of his own teams that is.
Because of what I presume must be poor physical condition, cause he is still only 29 which is a decent football age, he just doesn't have any movement without the ball anymore.
That he doesn't work when his team isn't in possession is not anything new of course. That's never been his role in the first place. But when he never makes runs or has movement off the ball he is generally just too easy to mark.
Then when he 4 or 5 times a game he will make a run he will often be too out of breath to do anything effectively once he gets the ball.
Too often it has seemed like he wasn't able to keep up with the tempo at the highest level anymore, which when you think about it is pretty sad for a 29 year old who among millions of people is still one of the utmost talented this game.
Personally I'm convinced that a significant part of Barcelona's historic improvement from the last season under Rijkaard to first season under Guardiola was the black hole that had become Ronaldinho wherever he was on the pitch now being gone from the lineup.
His extreme case of non work simply limited the team in too many ways. With the ball he reduced the movement of the whole team and without it, for starters, something like effective pressure on opponent possession could never be very effective.
Even last season in what was his debut season for Milan it was when Ancelotti started benching him that results finally improved for Milan and they started a rapid climb up the table. Coincidence? I think not!
So why is this clown even on the list? Why is this season different?
It really isn't that much different from what I can tell. I still see many of the same negative things from him and him now being given a whole left-wing to occupy in a 4-3-3 by new Milan coach Leonardo, where he can then mostly stand still or sometimes go for walks, he still hurts his team's balance consistently throughout games.
But what can't be denied is that he is an extraordinary playmaker when he gets the ball out there.
He doesn't really have the energy/pace/whatever to dribble much anymore, but he'll make great passes that very few can even think of. Short, forward, long, diagonal or cross, he'll do it all and with two other forwards to look for and a player like Seedorf coming from behind often ending up somewhere near him, he's been quite effective lately and he leads Serie A in assists. It's when Milan doesn't have the ball where the real trouble starts but with it and Ronaldinho, parked out on the wing, he has actually become value.
Leonardo seems to have just accepted that off the ball Ronaldinho just isn't good enough anymore in order to not be, a way too easy mark so to speak, so he has placed him so far out left field that he really is beyond normal marking unless you wanna man mark him for some reason.
For long periods of the game he is just out there almost glued to the sideline and yeah most players wouldn't be able do much of anything from out there especially not when they're slow and not much of a threat to cut well inside, but Ronaldinho he'll somehow make things happen from out there.
Say one great first touch, follow it up with some genius pass and the man (the clown) has created a dangerous situation, and that without much effort at all.
He is too skilled not to be on the list :(
Tranquillo Barnetta - Bayer Leverkusen - Switzerland
Now here is a player who I honestly have no idea how is looked upon. What people think of him or how highly or not so highly (at all) that he is rated. If rated at all??
For Switzerland he has been a key player for years now helping them impressively through qualifications to major tournaments. Not an easy thing to accomplish for a small nation.
In Germany I have less of an idea how he has been doing game in and game out. From one season and on to the next. All I can say is that whenever I've seen him there is always something I really like.
Barnetta is just an all-round player in every sense of the word. He will make effective contributions to both defense and attack. Without the ball he has good movement always looking for space and even with the ball he has nice things to offer. Not like some of the previously ranked players in this update but still, he is a skilled player who can run with the ball himself or try and create chances for others through passing.
He is also a versatile player who can get the job done in several positions. Be it on either wing or central.
The man is even good on set pieces where he is always a danger to collect an assist.
All in all this is starting to sound like a player who should be even higher?
Well he is someone who has been connected with big clubs before and seeing what he could regularly do at the highest level would tell us a lot more of how good he really is (or just seeing him flop there) and to what extent this is a case of good at most things but great at none we have here with Barnetta, certainly for Switzerland in major competitions it could be argued that exactly has been the case. That it's mostly been rather ordinary.
It's possible that this year with Leverkusen will tell us a lot one way or the other. They have just secured the "winter championship" in Germany meaning they're leading at the traditional winter break and just how far they can go from that will not only depend on, but should tell us a lot, about how good, not just Barnetta really is, but other players (still to come on the list) from that team as well.
It will be interesting to watch.