Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, most of the players on our list were unquestionably the best in the world this season. This list, however, may be contentious in some ways due to continual variations in form and the fact that soccer was suspended for a few months in the middle of the season. But what good is a ranking if there isn't a debate over it?
It’s also worth noting that, while most leagues resumed play after the forced vacation, Ligue 1 in France did not. As a result, the two League 1 players’ placement on this list is subjective and arbitrary, and it may have been very different if those players had the rest of the season to play. I tried to consider each player’s present form and general ability when he was fit, but the ranking is always arbitrary when many players have performed so well. Also, because of the pause in play and the fact that many players may be considered among the world’s best players right now, the ranking naturally becomes more subjective as it progresses to the bottom. But, without further, here are the best ten players in the world right now, based on form and natural talent when fit.
1. Lionel Messi For Lionel Messi, it’s just another day at the office. For nearly a decade, La Pulga Atómica (the Atomic Flea) has remained at the top of this list, and at 33, he’s still going strong. He has made impressive stats and seasons second nature to him. Despite overlooking Barcelona’s first four games due to injury, Messi is on track to win La Liga’s top footballer for the seventh time in his career, with 22 goals in as many games. Along with his 22 goals, Messi has 20 assists in the league, breaking his own personal best of 18 assists in a season and contributing 42 goals in 30 league games. That is a once-in-a-lifetime season for any player.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo He’ll be around the top of the list as long as he’s alive. Cristiano Ronaldo is 35 years old and only in his second season in Italy, yet he is still putting up ridiculous numbers in front of goal. With 28 goals and six assists in 28 league games and a total of 39 goal contributions in all competitions, Ronaldo has contributed to half of Juventus’ goals this season. He is presently vying for the Capocannoniere (Serie A top scorer) with Ciro Immobile of Lazio. He has been Juventus’ outstanding player in what appears to be a title-winning season. Ronaldo will try to complete his trifecta this season when the Champions League resumes in August, winning the competition with both of his former clubs.
3. Neymar Despite struggling with injuries this season and not having played since early March due to Ligue 1’s decision to conclude the season early rather than continue play following the lockout, Neymar Jr. ranks third on my list. This should demonstrate how good the Brazilian winger is when he’s in top form. Neymar scored 13 goals and added six assists in 15 league appearances this season. These figures rise to 18 goals and ten assists in 22 games across all competitions. Neymar has not had a fully fit season in his three seasons with Paris Saint-Germain, but his world-class ability is displayed every time he steps onto the field. Messi, Ronaldo, and injuries are the only reasons Neymar won the Ballon d’Or.
4. Robert Lewandowski And at 31, Robert Lewandowski had his finest season yet. Bayern Munich’s world-class frontman merely finished his sixth season with the club and his tenth season in the Bundesliga overall, assisting Bayern to win its 8th title in a row. Lewandowski affixed Bundesliga’s top scorer award for the fifth time with 34 goals in the 31 matches he emerged in.
5. Kylian Mbappé Mbappé only plunges after Lewandowski on my list due to his youth and that he hasn’t played in any matches since March. Nonetheless, in a few years, the French 21-year-old could very reasonably be at the top of this list, for his stats and proficiency are clearly and objectively great. A World Cup winner with a courteous goal in the final and a four-time Ligue 1 winner, Mbappé’s trophy cabinet will only resume growing.