If you’ve been keeping up to date on 90min‘s Welcome to World Class, you’ll know we’ve been going over what defines a ‘world class’ footballer in this day and age.
Using our unique metric – you can find an explainer on that here – we picked out five players per position who make up the best the planet can offer in those specific spots.
We’ve detailed our thinking behind each score in the lists, and it’s provoked some great debate on social media. What better way to round things off than a big list of footballers ranked by how each scored on our metric?
Deep breathes, here we go…
Metric Score: 402 James is part of England’s rich group of right backs and is edging his way to the front of the queue. While Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier remain fierce competitors for a national team spot, James’ powerful defensive skills and excellent delivery in the final third make him a high quality defender with even higher potential.
49. Luke Shaw
Metric Score: 408 Shaw has managed to turn his career around over the past year, becoming first choice for both Manchester United and England while delivering some of his most consistent performances to date. He’s found the latter part of 2021 tough, but there’s no doubting he’s been one of the best left backs around in recent times.
48. Vinicius Jr
Metric Score: 412 Vinicius squeezed into the rankings for the top five left forwards in the world, with his hot start to the 2021/22 season the reason for his ascension. The Brazilian has struck up a terrific partnership with Karim Benzema as Real Madrid look to win back the La Liga title.
47. Ilkay Gundogan
Metric Score: 413 One of the big reasons for Manchester City’s 2020/21 Premier League title win was Gundogan’s goalscoring form. The Germany international enjoyed some deadly months in front of goal and was voted into the central midfield rankings by 90min followers.
46. Leroy Sane
Metric Score: 415 Another to be voted in by fans, Sane is now delivering the goods for Bayern Munich. He claimed the third league title of his career last season and has made a hot start to the current campaign. He’s starting to fulfil his potential and the only way is up.
Metric Score: 418 The holding midfielder baton at Manchester City has finally been passed from Fernandinho to Rodri, and the Spaniard has made that transition look seamless. He’s a consistent presence in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI and is good for a banger from distance every now and then too.
44. Bernardo Silva
Metric Score: 422 Silva has been reborn since the start of the 2021/22 season and was voted into the attacking midfield rankings by 90min followers. The Portugal international has been afforded greater license to get forward and his goal stats show how good a decision that has been.
43. Serge Gnabry
Metric Score: 423 Handpicked by 90min‘s YouTube gang for the final right forwards spot, Gnabry is now one of the most clinical and ruthless players around. That didn’t seem to be on the cards after that woeful spell at West Brom, showing you should never write someone off just because they couldn’t cut it under Tony Pulis.
42. Theo Hernandez
Metric Score: 423 Hernandez is one of the most dangerous defenders around. He’s got a great goal record from the back and doesn’t neglect his defensive duties. His first international cap came in 2021 and he’ll add a load more to the four he’s accumulated so far by the time his career’s done and dusted.
41. Antonio Rudiger
Metric Score: 426 Voted in via the fan poll, Rudiger has turned his Chelsea career around and is one of Thomas Tuchel’s most important players. Comfortable bringing the ball out from the back and rarely beaten for pace or strength, the centre back is one of the most sought after defenders around.
Metric Score: 430 You only need watch Liverpool when they don’t have Fabinho in their starting lineup to understand just how important he is to Jurgen Klopp. He wins the ball back quickly and provides excellent cover for his flying full backs at club level. He was voted in by a fan poll too.
39. Joao Cancelo
Metric Score: 431 It took a while for Cancelo to establish himself at City, but after his performances over the past year or so, it’s clear to see just how important he is to the club now. The Portugal international has a wand of a right foot and has racked up magnificent assist numbers. You can read more about the stats that prove Cancelo is world class here.
38. Kyle Walker
Metric Score: 431 To reduce Walker to just a speed merchant does a disservice to just how much he has improved since switching Tottenham for Man City. Walker rarely lets his side down and if you’re rated so highly by Pep Guardiola, you’re probably doing something right. You can read more about the stats that prove Walker is world class here.
37. Federico Chiesa
Metric Score: 432 Gianluigi Donnarumma and Jorginho aside, Chiesa was the real ace in the pack for Italy at Euro 2020. An electric presence with the ball at his feet, the winger has turned from promising prodigy to world class performer, as his performances over the summer show. You can read about how Chiesa became one of world football’s most feared wingers here.
36. Leon Goretzka
Metric Score: 436 It can be hard to stand out at a club with a squad as richly filled as Bayern Munich’s, but that’s exactly what Goretzka has done. An immense goal threat from central midfield, the German pops up with crucial strikes and has helped Bayern in their continued domestic dominance.
35. Toni Kroos
Metric Score: 437 He might be long in the tooth now, but Kroos continues to have a massive influence on Real Madrid’s midfield. Kroos joins the dots for Los Blancos’ attacks and is an underrated defensive presence. He’s been world class for years and there’s no change this time around. You can read more about the stats that prove Kroos is world class here.
34. Riyad Mahrez
Metric Score: 437 Man City have such an embarrassment of riches in attack that it’s easy to underestimate just how excellent Mahrez has been in recent times. The Algerian has grown in stature at the Etihad Stadium and is one of their go-to guys whenever a goal is needed.
33. Cesar Azpilicueta
Metric Score: 441 Azpilicueta has been Mr Dependable for years at Chelsea – whether that be on the side of a back three or as a trademark right back. Whatever the situation, the Spaniard always drops a consistent 7/10.
32. Raphael Varane
Metric Score: 443 Varane’s trophy cabinet is famously full and he swapped the Bernabeu for Old Trafford in the summer in search of a fresh challenge. He’s a world class operator and it’s only a matter of time before he makes Man Utd’s defence watertight.
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