Being a football player is certainly a very prestigious and highly paid profession, especially when it comes to playing for famous clubs. The fast-growing online-resource BPRO EXPERT collects data of such players and their teams and calculates the outcome of football matches. You can personally check it out — just visit the site. The integration of machine learning in football is striking! Let’s observe the top football players who have earned worldwide recognition for their talent and commitment to the favorite sport.
1. Lionel Messi (33 y.o, Argentina, FC Barcelona)
Messi is called the most fantastic player in the history of professional football. His professional career began in 2000 at FC Barcelona youth team. Messi was only 13, but his head coach was so impressed with his talent that persuaded the club’s management to sponsor his move from Argentina to Spain.
Since 2003, Messi has been playing for FC Barcelona senior squad. During this period, Barcelona won the Spanish Championship 10 times, not to mention other tournaments:
- UEFA Champions League — 4 times,
- La Copa — 6 times,
- Spanish Super Cup — 8 times,
- European Super Cup — 3 times,
- FIFA Club World Cup — 3 times.
Messi was awarded 11 times as the best football player of the year in his homeland, Argentina. To characterize his unique style of play, a new word has been introduced into the Spanish dictionary — inmessionante, which is now used to describe the greatest player of all time. No surprise, Messi is truly the greatest.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (35 y.o, Portugal, Juventus F.C.)
Ronaldo is the most successful football player in the history of Portuguese football and possibly the most recognizable face in the world of sports. Even those people who are not into football have heard his name. By the way, Ronaldo is his second given name.
Just like Messi, Ronaldo obtained the Golden Ball award five times. Also, he overtook Messi by scoring the highest number of goals during the UEFA Champions League games and was called the most successful striker in Europe.
3. Neymar Jr. (28 y.o, Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain F.C.)
Not only is this Brazilian footballer known for his talent, but also for the most high-priced transfer. In 2017, Paris Saint-Germain paid $222 million for his transfer from Barcelona.
Neymar began his professional career right after entering the Santos Youth Academy. As a young football player, he could attract many European clubs, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, and others. In 2008, Neymar signed his first contract with the Brazilian football club Santos. Since then, different clubs were highly interested in his transfer. They didn’t even care about enormous compensation for premature contract termination. However, the footballer stayed true to his native club until 2013.
After joining Barcelona in 2013, Neymar won a number of championships:
- Copa del Rey
- Spanish Super Cup
- UEFA Champions League.
Playing for PSG, Neymar managed to win the Coupe de France, Trophée des Champions (French annual football trophy), and French League Cup.
4. Eden Hazard (29 y.o, Belgium, Real Madrid C.F.)
Quite often this Belgian footballer is compared with Messi and Ronaldo due to his style of play. Hazard turned 20 when he was titled the Player of the Year in France. After 7 seasons in the French Lille, he went to the British Chelsea and brought them victory in the UEFA Europa League Final. Over the next few years, he twice won the EFL Championship, the EFL Cup, and was awarded the Player of the Year trophy by the PFA. In 2019, Hazard was transferred to Real Madrid.
5. Kevin De Bruyne (29 y.o, Belgium, Manchester City F.C.)
Like other footballers in the ranking, de Bruyne has demonstrated his talent since the very beginning of his professional career. 2010/11 was his first successful season. Playing for the Belgian FC Genk, he scored five goals for the competition period (total 32). As a result, Genk won the Belgian championship for the third time since its formation.
In 2012-2015, de Bruyne played for the English club Chelsea and the German Wolfsburg. Since 2015, he’s been playing for Manchester City that paid 74 million euros for his transfer, a record amount in the club’s history. In the very first season, Kevin paid off the investment. Thanks to him Manchester could participate in the Champions League semi-finals.
6. Virgil van Dijk (29 y.o, the Netherlands, Liverpool F.C.)
Unlike other players in my top 10, van Dijk is not an attacker, but a defender. Having started his career at Groningen’s youth football academy, he soon entered the main squad. In 2013, Virgil began to play for the Scottish professional football club Celtic and spent two seasons there; then he moved to the British Southampton F.C.
After joining Liverpool in 2018, van Dijk made a true football star. His transfer to the club cost 75 million pounds, which made him the most expensive defender of all times. As it turned out, Liverpool got their money’s worth. In 2019, Virgil won UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and PFA Player of the Year awards.
7. Mohamed Salah (28 y.o, Egypt, Liverpool F.C.)
Salah’s international career had begun before he turned 20. He performed in the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2012 Summer Olympics, representing Egypt. However, the real success came to him as he started playing for European football clubs. As a member of the Swiss FC Basel, Mohamed won the Super League and obtained the Swiss league player of the year title.
In 2017, Salah signed a contract with the British Liverpool. This 42 million euro transfer was quite beneficial for the club — Mohamed scored 36 goals already in the first season. In 2018, Salah was named the best Premier League player. In 2019, he proved himself to be a legendary striker scoring the winner at the Champions League final.
8. Kylian Mbappé (21 y.o, France, Paris Saint-Germain)
Kylian is the youngest player in my ranking. He was called the best football player under 20 after contributing to France’s victory at the World Cup in 2018.
Mbappé’s professional career began after signing a contract with the AS Monaco Academy. In 2015, he made a senior team debut, showed incredibly high results and gained a bonus that 10 times exceeded the initial amount (from 300 thousand euros to 3 million euros).
In 2018, as the rental season was over, Kylian joined Paris Saint-Germain opting out of the deal with Real Madrid that failed to offer him a favorable financial package. But even though PSG could not fully satisfy the player’s great appetite, their cooperation was successful.
9. Sergio Ramos (34 y.o, Spain, Real Madrid C.F.)
Ramos is one of the few footballers who prefer representing only his native country. From the very beginning of his professional career in 1996, Sergio have played only for Spanish clubs. In 2005, he was bought by Real Madrid, although two other clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United, wanted him on their teams that year. Ramos is currently the captain of Real Madrid and Spain’s national football team with 168 caps.
10. Antoine Griezmann (29 y.o, France, FC Barcelona)
Griezmann first drew the attention of world-famous football clubs when he was 14. At the age of 18 he joined the main squad of the Spanish FC Real Sociedad. Even though Antoine mostly performed as an attacking midfielder, he could become the highest goalscorer exceeded only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa.
Griezmann’s football career continued at Atletico Madrid, where he entered the top five strikers in the history of the club. In 2019, he signed a five-year contract with Barcelona FC.