Every fan has an opinion about the world’s best football players, but nearly everyone agrees on a few players. Many of these stars play for the elite soccer teams — Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester figure prominently in this list — and a few of them are already considered legends, like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. All of them contribute to the global appeal that football fans call the “beautiful game.”
1 LIONEL MESSI
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Often considered the best player in the world and regarded by many as the greatest of all time, Messi has a record-tying five Ballon d'Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record five European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 32 trophies, including nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copas del Rey. Both a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga (383), a La Liga season(50), a club football season in Europe (73), a calendar year (91), El Clásico (26), as well as those for most assists in La Liga (149) and the Copa América (11). He has scored over 600 senior career goals for club and country.
2 CRISTIANO RONALDO
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Portugal national team. Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, Ronaldo has a record-tying five Ballon d'Or awards, the most for a European player, and is the first player to win four European Golden Shoes. He has won 25 trophies in his career, including five league titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and one UEFA European Championship. A prolific goalscorer, Ronaldo holds the records for most official goals scored in Europe's top-five leagues (395), the UEFA Champions League(120), the UEFA European Championship (9), as well as those for most assists in the UEFA Champions League (34) and the UEFA European Championship(6). He has scored over 650 senior career goals for club and country.
3 NEYMAR JR.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team.Neymar came into prominence at an early age at Santos, where he made his professional debut aged 17. He helped the club win two successive Campeonato Paulista championships, a Copa do Brasil, and the 2011 Copa Libertadores, Santos' first continental title since 1963. Neymar was twice named the South American Footballer of the Year, in 2011 and 2012, before relocating to Europe to join Barcelona. As part of Barça's attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, he won the continental treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League in the 2014–15 season, followed the next year by the domestic double. He came third for the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2015. In August 2017, Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in a transaction worth €222 million, making him the world's most expensive player.
4 KEVIN DE BRUYNE
Kevin De Bruyne (born 28 June 1991) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester City and the Belgian national team. His playing style has frequently led to the media, coaches, and colleagues ranking him among the best players in Europe,and has often been described as a "complete" footballer. He was ranked the fourth-best footballer in the world by The Guardian in 2017.De Bruyne began his career at Genk, where he was a regular player when they won the 2010–11 Belgian Pro League. In 2012, he joined English club Chelsea, where he was used sparingly and then loaned to Werder Bremen. He signed with Wolfsburg for £18 million in 2014, and in 2015 he was named Footballer of the Year in Germany.Later that year, he joined Manchester City for a club record £54 million.De Bruyne made his full international debut in 2010, and has earned over 50 caps for Belgium. He was part of the Belgian squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.
5 HARRY KANE
Harry Edward Kane (born 28 July 1993) is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the English national team.Kane made his first-team debut for Tottenham on 25 August 2011 in a UEFA Europa League match against Hearts. Before establishing himself in Tottenham's first team, he spent time on loan in League One playing for Leyton Orient, in the Championship playing for Millwall and Leicester City and in the Premier League for Norwich City.He became a regular starter for Tottenham in the 2014–15 season, in which he scored 31 goals across the campaign, 21 of which in the league, and was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. Kane finished top scorer of both the 2015–16 and the 2016–17 Premier League seasons, and aided Tottenham in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League on both occasions. He has been named Premier League Player of the Month six times, and selected for the PFA Team of the Year in each of the last four seasons. He has scored over 100 goals for Tottenham, and is currently sixth in the team's all-time top goalscorers list.At international level, he represented England at youth levels, playing for the under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels. He scored on his senior international debut on 27 March 2015 and was selected for UEFA Euro 2016. The Guardian ranked him as the fifth-best footballer on the planet in 2017.
6 LUKA MODRIC
Luka Modrić (born 9 September 1985) is a Croatian professional footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and captains the Croatia national team. Modrić plays mainly as a central midfielder but can also play as an attacking midfielder or as a defensive midfielder, usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker. Modrić is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.Born in Zadar, Modrić was signed by Dinamo Zagreb in 2002 after showing promise with his hometown club's youth team. He continued his development in Zagreb before spells on loan to Zrinjski Mostar and Inter Zaprešić. He made his debut for Dinamo in 2005 and won three consecutive league titles and domestic cups with them, being named the Prva HNL Player of the Year in 2007. In 2008, he moved to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, where he led Spurs to their first UEFA Champions League appearance in almost 50 years, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2010–11 tournament.After the 2011–12 season, he moved to Real Madrid for a fee of £30 million, where he became a key contributor under coach Carlo Ancelotti and helped the team to win La Décima, being elected to the squad of the season. In 2016 and 2017, he won his second and third Champions League title with the squad and election to the squad of the season on both, as well as receiving the La Liga Award for the "Best Midfielder" in 2016 for the second time, and UEFA Club Football Award for the "Best Midfielder" in 2017.
7 ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
Robert Lewandowski (born 21 August 1988) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a striker for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and is the captain of the Poland national team.After being the top scorer in the third and second tiers of Polish football with Znicz Pruszków, he moved to top-flight Lech Poznań, and was the top scorer in the league as they won the 2009–10 Ekstraklasa. In 2010, he transferred to Borussia Dortmund for a reported €4.5 million, where he won honours including two consecutive Bundesliga titles and a season as the league's top goalscorer. In 2013, he earned with Borussia a spot in the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final, tournament where he was the second top goalscorer, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo.Prior to the start of the 2014–15 season, Lewandowski agreed to join their rivals, Bayern Munich, on a free transfer. In Munich, he won the Bundesliga title in each of his first three campaigns, earning a spot in the Bundesliga Team of the Year in every season. In 2015–16, he led the league in goalscoring with 30 goals, and in 2016–17 he was named the Bundesliga Player of The Year. He was named to the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season on each of the last two seasons. He has totalled over 170 goals in Germany's top division, Bundesliga, and reached the century mark quicker than any other foreign player. On 22 September 2015, Lewandowski scored five goals against VfL Wolfsburg in nine minutes, the fastest in any major European football league since records have been kept.
8 KYLIAN MBAPPE
Kylian Mbappé Lottin (born 20 December 1998) is a French professional footballer who plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain, on loan from fellow Ligue 1 club Monaco, and the France national team.1Mbappé came into prominence at an early age, starring for the youth academies at AS Bondy, INF Clairefontaine, and Monaco, making his debut as a professional for the reserve team of the last. Mbappé soon became a regular starter and goalscorer for the first team in the 2016–17 season, helping the club gain their first Ligue 1 title in seventeen years. The following season he joined Paris Saint-Germain on an initial loan, with a deal in place to join the club permanently at the end of the season for a fee of around €180 million.Mbappé made his senior international debut for France in March 2017, after previously representing them at under-17 and under-19 levels.
9 LUIS SUAREZ
Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz (born 24 January 1987), commonly known as Luis Suárez, is a Uruguayan professional footballerwho plays as a striker for Spanish club Barcelona and the Uruguay national team. Often regarded as one of the best players in the world, Suárez has won 16 trophies in his career, including five league titles, a UEFA Champions League title and a Copa América. A prolific goalscorer, Suárez has won two European Golden Shoes, an Eredivisie Golden Boot, a Premier League Golden Boot, as well as ending the six-year dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by winning La Liga's Pichichi Trophy in 2016. In October 2015, he scored his 300th senior career goal for club and country.Suárez notched his 400th goal two years later, in December 2017.Suárez began his career as a youth player for Nacional in 2003. At age 19, he relocated to the Netherlands to play for Groningen, before transferring to Ajax in 2007. He won his first trophy in 2010, the KNVB Cup, finishing the season as the league's top scorer and was named Dutch Footballer of the Year. A year later, he helped Ajax secure the Eredivisie title, and scored his 100th Ajax goal. In January 2011, Suárez transferred to Liverpool, and won the League Cup in his first full season at the club. In 2014, he was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year as well as winning the Premier League Golden Boot, and sharing the European Golden Shoe with Cristiano Ronaldo before moving to Barcelona in a transfer worth €82.3 million (£64.98 million), making him one of the most expensive players in football history.
10 EDEN HAZARD
Eden Michael Hazard (born 7 January 1991) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Belgium national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and as a wide midfielder. Hazard's creativity, speed, and technical ability are widely acknowledged. He has been described as "a superb passer" and has earned critical acclaim for his playing style, which has led to the media, coaches, and players drawing comparisons to Ballon d'Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Hazard is often ranked by coaches, colleagues, and commentators as one of the best players in the world.Hazard is the son of former Belgian footballers and began his football career in Belgium playing for local clubs Royal Stade Brainois and Tubize. In 2005, he moved to France joining first division club Lille. Hazard spent two years in the club's academy and, at the age of 16, made his professional debut in November 2007. He went on to become an integral part of Lille under manager Rudi Garcia, racking up over 190 appearances. In his first full season as a starter, he won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award, becoming the first non-French player to win the award. In the 2009–10 season, Hazard captured the award again, becoming the first player to win the award twice. He was also named to the league's Team of the Year.