ESPN experts create the 'Ultimate' World XI in football right now

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Who would be in your Ultimate XI right now?

It’s not an easy line-up to name. There are difficult decisions to make in pretty much every position.

Alisson Becker, Marc-Andre ter Stegen or Jan Oblak in goal? Does Raheem Sterling get in? Who partners Virgil van Dijk in defence?

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Van Dijk may be the only four guaranteed names in the team.

ESPN have gone ahead and asked their experts to form the Ultimate XI they feel “could win anything”.

Money wasn’t an object, although their team had to follow some rules:

  • no more than two players from the same club
  • use the 4-3-3 formation, a base template for so many top teams
  • remain true to each player's position: no picking four center-backs and no using a star in a position he plays the least
  • everyone's picks were collated and the most-selected player at each position made the cut for our Ultimate XI

They picked a team that would cost roughly €1.2 billion at current market prices.

It goes as follows…

GK | Jan Oblak | Atletico Madrid | Estimated transfer value: €100 million


RB | Joshua Kimmich | Bayern Munich | €70 million

Bayern Muenchen v Fenerbahce - Audi Cup 2019 Semi Final

CB | Virgil van Dijk | Liverpool | €90 million


CB | Kalidou Koulibaly | Napoli | €75 million

Chievo Verona v SSC Napoli - Serie A

LB | Andrew Robertson | Liverpool | €60 million

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League

CM | Kevin De Bruyne | Manchester City | €130 million

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

CM | N’Golo Kante | Chelsea | €100 million


CM | Frenkie De Jong | Barcelona | €85 million


RW | Lionel Messi | Barcelona | €150 million

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly

ST | Kylian Mbappe | Paris Saint-Germain | €200 million

Paris Saint-Germain v Stade Rennais FC - 2019 Trophée des Champions

LW | Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus | €90 million

Parma Calcio v Juventus - Serie A

All estimated transfer values are from Transfermarkt.


That’s some team.

But, as was bound to be the case, ESPN have left out some high-profile names.

Liverpool’s Alisson misses out despite a stellar 2019 and there’s no room for his club teammate Mohamed Salah, either.


Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva has been incredible for Manchester City and Portugal. He can perhaps feel hard done by to miss out.

And no room for Robert Lewandowski? Ouch.


ESPN’s team has caused a stir among football fans.

"Definitely Lewy of [sic] Mbappe. Thiago, Verratti, Bernardo Silva all good picks over De Jong,” one fan wrote on Reddit.

Another opined: “I just have no idea how anyone can consider Mbappe to be better than the likes of Hazard, Salah, Sterling, Neymar out wide or the likes of Griezmann, Kane, Aguero, Lewandowski centrally.”

On Twitter, one fan wrote: “Midfielders better than De Jong; Bernardo, Kroos, Verratti, Pogba, David Silva”.

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