No marathon writeups in this update and I'm just itching to get to the top 100. I can feel it!
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
169: Bojan Krkic and Pedro - Barcelona - Spain
168: Ronaldinho - AC Milan - Brazil
167: Tranquillo Barnetta - Bayer Leverkusen - Switzerland
166: Stiliyan Petrov - Aston Villa - Bulgaria
165: Amauri - Juventus - Brazil
164: Dirk Kuyt - Liverpool - The Netherlands
163: Bruno Alves - FC Porto - Portugal
162: Lorik Cana - Sunderland - Albania
161: Carlton Cole - West Ham - England
160: Lukas Podolski - FC Köln - Germany
159: Felipe Melo - Juventus - Brazil
158: Craig Bellamy - Manchester City - Wales
157: Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger - Palermo and Liverpool - Denmark
156: Alessandro Nesta -Milan-Italy
155: Aly Cissokho - Lyon -France
154: Walter Samuel - Inter - Argentina
153: Diego Lugano - Fenerbahce - Uruguay
152: Mauro Zarate - Lazio - Argentina
151: Sebastian Giovinco - Juventus and Luca Cigarini - Napoli - Italy
150: Taye Taiwo - Marseille - Nigeria, Rod Fanni - Rennes and Benoit Tremoulinas - Bordeaux - France
149: Domenico Criscito - Genoa - Italy
148: Fernando Llorente - Atletic Bilbao - Spain
147: Juan Roman Riquelme, Juan Sebastian Veron, Lucho Gonzalez, Pablo Aimar and Javier Pastore - Argentina
146: Alexis Sanchez - Udinese - Chile
145: Tom Huddlestone - Tottenham - England
144: Gerard Pique - Barcelona - Spain
Hey it's the Portuguese central midfielder special:
both Sporting Lissabon - Midfield
also central midfielder but FC Porto
Because I almost never get to see football from Portugal, these are definitely not the three players I'm most qualified to talk about, so if there are any fans or experts on Portuguese football reading, your views on these players would be very welcome.
Just please no talk of Javi Garcia or other central midfielders from Liga Sagres that I haven't seen much being much better or much more deserving. Spare me!
Anyway, from seeing these three over the years I'm of course confident that they're very good. I'm also aware that they're generally regarded as such.
In some ways even though there are quite a few differences in what they offer I think they all battle for central midfield playing time on the national team as well.
On the defensive side of things Meireles unquestionably is the number one. He has successfully operated the FC Porto defensive midfield for years now and he also looks to be Portugal's first choice in that position come World Cup time with most of the previous rivals for that spot getting too old.
One that could have been a rival is actually Miguel Veloso but from what I understand he never really became quite good enough defensively. What Meireles and him do have in common though is their excellent range of passing.
I'm kinda guessing here but it could be that Veloso because of Moutinho so far in their careers being the more attacking midfielder type of the two has used a lot of time playing the deeper midfield role where his range of passing was really useful, while Moutinho kind of like a Deco excels in the short passing game where both his movement and technique are really good.
Technically Veloso is very good as well and has nice ball control. He is also very good on set pieces and likes to move himself in position to cross the ball as well.
He has been connected with a number of big clubs and it would be really interesting to see if he is good enough to hold a defensive midfield role in a stronger league. I think if he was to move to England we would see what perhaps is already taking place this season at Sporting, a more attacking role for Veloso with less defensive responsibility, and a good chance for him to really put his considerable skills to use in the final third.
On the other hand if he was to move to Italy I could definitely see him in a deep-lying play-maker role with defensive positioning as part of the job description but also with protection from more outright defensive midfielders doing a lot of the dirty work, moreso than perhaps in Portugal, he could then really focus on being a play-maker.
Moutinho other than being a skilled attacking midfielder also has good work rate and teamwork and just like with Veloso it would be really interesting to see what kind of success (or failure) he would have in one of the strongest leagues.
Right back - France
Sagna rivals any fullback on this list defensively where he is as good as it gets.
He is both fast and strong enough + a good tackler to make him very hard to beat one on one and he also consistently helps out the central defenders. For an attacking team like Arsenal his defensive contributions (yes he is another one of those defenders who I would say has a great range of command) are invaluable.
It's when we start talking about going forward that we get to what's stopping him from climbing a lot higher. On the one hand his fantastic stamina makes sure that he is always there as a passing option on the right and I think that he has a decent, perhaps improved, cross too. But unlike a lot of fullbacks on this list he doesn't really become a weapon offensively. Like get into positions where his crosses could become really dangerous or make piercing runs into the penalty area.
Of course it could just be if that were to happen, Arsenal would be left with only 2 or 3 people defending and with plenty of attacking talent coming from other places, what they need most of all is an excellent defender, and in Sagna they certainly got that.
In some games though with fullbacks generally becoming such an important part of the attacking game they really could use more of an attacking contribution from out there as well.
Especially if a lot of the attacking players have their main strengths central, and I do think that's why (and I know resting plays in as well) we've seen someone very attack minded like Eboue recently (at the time of writing) get starts at right-back against certain park-the-bus type of opponents.
Winger/Forward - Netherlands
Elia was named Dutch football talent of the year in 2009 and with some terrific performances for his new club Hamburg, both scoring and assisting goals, he has perhaps already established himself as one of the most exciting attacking players in the world.
He has also been rewarded with call ups to the national team and looks likely to go to the World Cup, where he might even end up starring since of course the likes of Arjen Robben and Robbie Van Persie both have quite the history of injuries.
In playing style you could say that Elia is quite similar to Robben. He has great acceleration, pace and dribbling ability and though definitely not on the nearly unstoppable level that Robben can take those things to, I have noticed at least one thing I like more in Elia's game than Robben's, a nice unselfishness that's resulting sometimes in some really nice passes basically anywhere on the pitch, including central in tight space, which I think is a very good sign. There is definitely creativity in Elia's game which makes you wonder just how good he is on the brink of becoming. Or already is.
As far as weaknesses go other than the obvious defensive ones where he doesn't offer much at all, I would say he could become a lot stronger and get even better balance. Someone like Robben for an example is crazy strong which I'm not sure a lot of people notice and can be almost unmovable unless you foul him.
Talent wise it could be argued that Elia should be even higher. But of course as far as him really proving he is an excellent player it could be argued he should be lower.
I've definitely seen too many good things from him to fear that his limit is say Ryan Babel but I'm also a little hesitant in elevating someone to the top 100 when outside of the relative weak Eredivisie, he doesn't have a full Bundesliga season under his belt yet.
Winger - Germany
Hey it's the German Giovinco, kind of, except of course little Marko plays all the time for his club team and is on the national team as well :(
At only 168 cm (5'6) Marin is quick and extremely agile and his quick turns with the ball using his good control can be a nightmare for defenders. There is no doubt especially when coming from the wing that Marin is one of the best dribblers on the list and if in transition he maintains very good speed running with the ball.
One thing I'm not sure of yet regarding him is his general passing skills. Obviously he is not bad but for an example when it comes to crossing his dribbling and pace can bring him so far into enemy territory that more so than just electing to cross the ball it often ends up in combinations with teammates in and around the area.
His energy over 90 minutes is also very impressive and something that has perhaps improved this season where he sees less substitutions.
Again the weaknesses are pretty obvious. He is very small and though strength will likely still improve he can't be expected to be much of a presence defensively.
Forward - Italy
American born Rossi is a very skilled player who not long ago I would have ranked higher, but he's been struggling a bit this season which is perhaps his first bad one in his still young career.
He is a player with excellent technique in most areas. Very good ball control, at times exquisite passing and he has a great shot.
The negatives I think are that he has shown himself pretty limited to a role of second striker.
As a wide forward his effectiveness is too reduced to being around the penalty area, he offers almost nothing further back, and as a main striker he lacks power and maybe some pace plus work rate to really be a serious goalscoring threat without a partner that he can cooperate closely with through his great technique.
Without the ball he has never quite become good enough and often falls through on the work that's needed in both of these positions, if we're talking highest level.
Where he is excellent though is in the middle of where things happen in the final third, preferable in a functioning possession game (that could easily be the problem for Villarreal where the standard has really fallen) where he'll get lots of touches. The more the merrier. Then good things happen and even without much space at all he has great ability to be effective whether it's a great pass, shot or dribble.
If you look at ability alone he has a very good case for the World Cup. Even if it's close between several players. Not long ago he was certain. But his limitations tactically and a possible Italy comeback from Francesco Totti, who still does most things just a little bit better than Rossi, could easily prevent it.