Five surprises from the Guardian's top 100 footballers of 2015

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December 21 saw the Guardian publish their annual top 100 footballers list as decided by a panel of 123 football experts across 49 nations.

As always the rankings proved controversial, with arguments made as to why certain players did or didn't feature and why others were ranked so low or so high.

Here are the five biggest surprises on the 100-man list.


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One of the biggest criticisms made was for players making the cut based on reputation rather than ability and influence - and the inclusion of Totti lends itself to such a view.

As great a player as the Roma no.10 has been over the last 20 years, he is far from one of the world's best 100 players.

The striker has played just 163 minutes this season and while he is undoubtedly a legend, 97th best player in the world he is certainly not.


The English pair have both exploded onto the scene over the past 24 months, netting 46 Premier League goals between them in 2015.

With the Premier League receiving so much media attention it's perhaps no surprise that both players feature on the list, but the sheer height of their rankings comes as a shock.

The lowest ranked of the two, Vardy, finished above the likes of Petr Cech (79th), Mario Gotze (80th) and Giorgio Chiellini (71st), while at 38th, Kane is the highest Englishman on the list and placed above Marco Reus (50th), Jerome Boateng (45th) and Marco Verratti (43rd).


Though the list contains 15 defenders, only two made the top 35. Bayern Munich's Phillip Lahm David Alaba ranked 21st and 23rd respectively, whilst big names such Sergio Ramos (39th), Diego Godin (40th) and Gerard Pique (44th) all missed out on the upper echelons of world football.

It perhaps speaks volumes about the difference in which positions are appreciated given that, rather coincidentally, Lahm and Alaba have frequently featured as midfielders at the Allianz Arena.


Another ranking that emphasises the argument that the top 100 was decided based upon reputation rather than performance.

Though the young Frenchman has started his Manchester United career well, scoring eight goals in 22 games, to rank him as the 69th best player in the world seems absurd.

Simply put, had he not joined the Red Devils for £38 million last summer, it's likely Martial would be nowhere to be seen on the list.


The surprise here is not just that the Juventus shot-stopper makes the top 100 as the third highest ranked goalkeeper, but rather that Buffon, who turns 38 in this month, has risen 38 places since last year.

Like a fine wine, Buffon seems to getting better with age and, providing he doesn’t play another pivotal role in an England defeat during the summer's European Championships, long may it continue.

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