5: Neymar [Barcelona, Brazil]
He’s the third man in Barcelona’s ferocious front three. Neymar is explosive. He’s technically gifted. He’s perhaps the one modern Brazilian player who still plays with the expected flair. While it seems like he’s been around a while, he still has room to grow. He just turned 24 in February. Sadly, he won’t be appearing at Copa America Centenario. Stupid Olympics on home soil.
4: Luis Suarez [Barcelona, Uruguay]
Suarez would be everyone’s favorite player, if he weren’t soccer’s most odious villain. He’s inventive, with or without the ball. He can finish. He’s an absolute nightmare to defend. He’s at the peak of his power right now, which meant 63 goals and 23 assists in 58 starts for Barcelona this season.
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3: Cristiano Ronaldo [Real Madrid, Portugal]
CR7 may have lost a step turning 31. That still leaves him a step or two ahead of just about everyone else. 51 goals and 15 assists in 47 starts for Real Madrid in the league and Champions League. His great flaw has been playing at the same time, in the same league as Lionel Messi.
2: Paul Pogba [Juventus, France]
Pogba just turned 23 in March. He’s already the world’s best all-around midfielder. He will only mature and improve. He’s a powerful box-to-box force like Vieira. He has some Zidane-like grace and instincts on the ball. He has a chance to be something we’ve never seen before. Expect him to smash the world-record transfer fee when Juventus decides to sell.
1: Lionel Messi [Barcelona, Argentina]
Messi had a pedestrian season by his standards. He struggled with injuries. He only produced 26 goals and 16 assists in 31 starts leading Barcelona to the Primera Liga title. Some have been more fun to watch. Many have had more personality. No one has done it as well or as long at European club level, now the world’s best competition. He is the GOAT.
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