The top 10 footballers in the world for every position in 2019 have been named

  • Rob Swan

It’s been another hugely eventful year in the world of football.

We witnessed some of the greatest Champions League comebacks of all time towards the end of last season; we were treated to a classic Premier League title race between Liverpool and Manchester City, and we also saw Jurgen Klopp’s thrilling team lift the European Cup.

Elsewhere, Brazil won the 2019 Copa America, Barcelona triumphed in both La Liga and the Copa del Rey, Cristiano Ronaldo won his first Serie A title with Juventus, and so much more has happened that we could be here all day.

As we approach the end of 2019, ESPN have released the latest edition of their annual rankings: the ESPN FC 100.

More than 40 ESPN FC experts from around the world have made their selections and come up with top tens for every position on the pitch. Let’s take a look at which players have come out on top…


10. Andre Onana | Ajax/Cameroon

9. David de Gea | Manchester United/Spain

8. Hugo Lloris | Tottenham/France

7. Kepa Arrizabalaga | Chelsea/Spain

6. Wojciech Szczesny | Juventus/Poland

5. Manuel Neuer | Bayern Munich/Germany

4. Ederson | Manchester City/Brazil

3. Marc-Andre ter Stegen | Barcelona/Germany

2. Jan Oblak | Atletico Madrid/Slovenia

1. Alisson Becker | Liverpool/Brazil

David de Gea has dropped from first place to ninth in the latest ESPN FC 100, but that’s not a shock – the Man Utd shot-stopper has been below-par for the past 12 months.

Separating Alisson, Oblak and Ter Stegen this year can’t have been easy – all three ‘keepers have been magnificent – but Liverpool’s Brazilian takes it after winning both the Champions League and the Copa America.


10. Aaron Wan-Bissaka | Manchester United/England

9. Cesar Azpilicueta | Chelsea/Spain

8. Kieran Trippier | Atletico Madrid/England

7. Joao Cancelo | Manchester City/Portugal

6. Dani Alves | Sao Paulo/Brazil

5. Kyle Walker | Manchester City/England

4. Dani Carvajal | Real Madrid/Spain

3. Ricardo Pereira | Leicester City/Portugal

2. Joshua Kimmich | Bayern Munich/Germany

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold | Liverpool/England

Trent Alexander-Arnold only turned 21 last month but is already considered by many as the world’s best right-back. Now that’s impressive.

The Liverpool and England star beats Joshua Kimmich to top spot, while Ricardo Pereira is recognised for his excellent calendar year with Leicester and Portugal.

Dani Alves also gets in despite the fact the veteran Brazilian has made quite a few appearances in midfield for his current employers Sao Paulo.


10. Milan Skriniar | Inter Milan/Slovakia

9. Jose Maria Gimenez | Atletico Madrid/Uruguay

8. Marquinhos | Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil

7. Leonardo Bonucci | Juventus/Italy

6. Giorgio Chiellini | Juventus/Italy

5. Sergio Ramos | Real Madrid/Spain

4. Aymeric Laporte | Manchester City/France

3. Matthijs de Ligt | Juventus/Netherlands

2. Kalidou Koulibaly | Napoli/Senegal

1. Virgil van Dijk | Liverpool/Netherlands

No contest, this one. Virgil van Dijk has been the best central defender since January 1 by a country mile.

The Dutchman, who won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award in August and also stands a chance of winning the 2019 Ballon d’Or, beats Kalidou Koulibaly and Matthijs de Ligt to pole position.


10. Nicolas Tagliafico | Ajax/Argentina

9. Aleksandar Kolarov | AS Roma/Serbia

8. Alex Grimaldo | Benfica/Portugal

7. Ferland Mendy | Real Madrid/France

6. Lucas Digne | Everton/France

5. Lucas Hernandez | Bayern Munich/France

4. Alex Sandro | Juventus/Brazil

3. Jordi Alba | Barcelona/Spain

2. David Alaba | Bayern Munich/Austria

1. Andrew Robertson | Liverpool/Scotland

Yet another Liverpool player finishes in top spot – and again, you can have no complaints about this one.

Andrew Robertson has taken his game to a new level over the course of 2019 and is now, in the eyes of most football fans, the best left-back in the world.

Real Madrid’s Brazilian left-back Marcelo misses out completely after a disappointing calendar year.

Central midfielders

10. Saul | Atletico Madrid/Spain

9. Marco Verratti | PSG/Italy

8. Rodri | Manchester City/Spain

7. Miralem Pjanic | Juventus/Bosnia & Herzegovina

6. Fabinho | Liverpool/Brazil

5. Casemiro | Real Madrid/Brazil

4. Fernandinho | Manchester City/Brazil

3. Sergio Busquets | Barcelona/Spain

2. Frenkie de Jong | Barcelona/Netherlands

1. N’Golo Kante | Chelsea/France

N’Golo Kante is a player that every manager in the world would love to have in their starting line-up – but has Chelsea’s Frenchman really been the best central midfielder in 2019?

Frenkie de Jong can consider himself a little unlucky to finish in second spot, while the same can be said of Fernandinho in fourth and, in particular, Fabinho down in sixth.

Perhaps Fabinho would have finished higher up the list had he been part of the Brazil squad that won the Copa America.

Attacking midfielders

10. Bruno Fernandes | Sporting CP/Portugal

9. Ever Banega | Sevilla/Argentina

8. Kai Havertz | Bayer Leverkusen/Germany

7. Koke | Atletico Madrid/Spain

6. Paul Pogba | Man United/France

5. Christian Eriksen | Tottenham/Denmark

4. David Silva | Man City/Spain

3. Donny van de Beek | Ajax/Netherlands

2. Kevin De Bruyne | Man City/Belgium

1. Bernardo Silva | Man City/Portugal

A deserved win in this category for the brilliant Bernardo Silva, who lifted the Premier League and UEFA Nations League trophies with Man City and Portugal this year.

The 25-year-old finishes above Kevin De Bruyne, who has been excellent at the start of the 2019/20 campaign, and Ajax’s Donny van de Beek.

Paul Pogba and Koke haven’t always been on top form in 2019, but they finish in sixth and seventh place, respectively.


10. Everton | Gremio/Brazil

9. Leroy Sane | Manchester City/Germany

8. David Neres | Ajax/Brazil

7. Angel Di Maria | PSG/Argentina

6. Marco Reus | Borussia Dortmund/Germany

5. Son Heung-min | Tottenham/South Korea

4. Jadon Sancho | Borussia Dortmund/England

3. Eden Hazard | Real Madrid/Belgium

2. Sadio Mane | Liverpool/Senegal

1. Raheem Sterling | Manchester City/England

How do you separate Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane? Both players have been fantastic all year.

Sterling takes top spot thanks to his performances for Man City and England, but Mane can consider himself a tad unfortunate.

Elsewhere, Jadon Sancho finishes one place higher than Son Heung-min, while Angel Di Maria is a bit unlucky to finish behind Marco Reus in seventh.


10. Dusan Tadic | Ajax/Serbia

9. Joao Felix | Atletico Madrid/Portugal

8. Neymar | Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil

7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Arsenal/Gabon

6. Antoine Griezmann | Barcelona/France

5. Roberto Firmino | Liverpool/Brazil

4. Mohamed Salah | Liverpool/Egypt

3. Kylian Mbappe | Paris Saint-Germain/France

2. Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus/Portugal

1. Lionel Messi | Barcelona/Argentina

There’s some serious talent in this category.

Lionel Messi takes top spot – and deservedly so – following yet another exceptional calendar year. The Barcelona legend is in with a chance of winning the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

Cristiano Ronaldo finishes in second place, followed by Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah.


10. Fabio Quagliarella | Sampdoria/Italy

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic | unattached/Sweden

8. Alexandre Lacazette | Arsenal/France

7. Duvan Zapata | Atalanta/Colombia

6. Edinson Cavani | Paris Saint-Germain/Uruguay

5. Luis Suarez | Barcelona/Uruguay

4. Karim Benzema | Real Madrid/France

3. Robert Lewandowski | Bayern Munich/Poland

2. Harry Kane | Tottenham Hotspur/England

1. Sergio Aguero | Manchester City/Argentina

And finally, we have the strikers.

Sergio Aguero pips Harry Kane to first place, although Robert Lewandowski has been better than both Premier League stars in recent weeks.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic finishes in ninth spot after scoring 31 goals in 31 games during his final season with LA Galaxy.

You wouldn’t bet again the mercurial Swede finishing higher up the list next year.

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