For me, world-class players are few and far between. I've had this discussion many times and have never been able to come to a reasonable conclusion.
So, what defines a world-class player?
Firstly, a player must be at their peak. For example, Thierry Henry was most definitely a world-class player. Can he still produce above all others at the highest level now? Probably not. Likewise with a player like Marc Andre ter-Stegen. One of the best young goalkeepers in the world, but hasn't made it yet. World-class potential – yes, but still a long way to go.
The player doesn't necessarily have to be a world beater, just a cut above the rest. I would class Leighton Baines as a world-class left-back, but he hasn't got a trophy cabinet full to the brim.
How many left-backs out there are better or on par with Baines? Possibly David Alaba and Ashley Cole. The modern left-back is typically excellent going forward, but can be a liability defensively. So a world-class one would have to have a near faultless set of attributes. You can pick holes in almost every other left-backs game.
Let's use Manchester City to portrait my point. They're one of England's top clubs and are well on their way to becoming on of the continents, but I'd say they only have four world-class players.
Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva & Sergio Aguero.
Whether you agree or disagree, ask yourself how many in the world are better at their roles on a football pitch? Not many.
There are players who are still extremely good – the likes of Negredo being a prime example. Is he one of the best in the world though? Not for me.
Of course opinions will always be divided, but how many players after they retire will be remembered as one of the greats of their era? Probably only around 50 worldwide.
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