Messi, Salah, Haaland, no Ronaldo: The world's best XI as voted by fans

  • Kobe Tong
PSG's Messi warms up.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still two of the world’s very best players, but even their most ardent of fans would admit that a new era is upon us.

For many, many years during those two icons’ pomps, drawing up the best XI in the men’s game was pretty straightforward with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves and Andres Iniesta appearing just as frequently as them.

However, now that we live in a heady time where Messi and Ronaldo are no longer Ballon d’Or favourites nor head and shoulders above the rest in FIFA ratings – shock horror – it’s never been clearer that it’s not so easy anymore.

The world’s best XI at the moment

Seriously, think about it, even drawing up the best world XI in your head right now isn’t as easy as you think it might be.

Do Ronaldo and Messi even still make the cut? Do you have Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back? Is Alisson Becker still the best goalkeeper? Does Karim Benzema start up front or does Erling Haaland?

These are the sorts of tricky questions that you’ve got to answer on your way to making a decision because it’s no longer as simple as copying and pasting over the latest combined XI of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But if we’re starting to make you feel stressed, then fear not, because we’re neither putting the responsibility on you or ourselves with today’s deep dive into the best male XI at the moment.

The best XI according to fan votes

That’s because we’ve let the people decide by taking a look at the interactive list titled: “The Best Current Soccer Players,” over on Ranker where football fans can vote for who they think is the best in the business.

Informed by over 1.4 million votes by almost 200,000 voters, it truly is one of the biggest polls on the topic, and we’ve duly created an XI out of its results so that all the major positions are represented.

We’ve not been too strict and fussy about players’ exact preferred positions, but we have – nevertheless – scrolled down as far as necessary to ensure that the left-back is the highest-placed left-back, the right-back is the… you get the picture.

So, without further ado, be sure to check out what the votes of the people paint as the world’s best XI right now as a result of their opinions on who the finest current players are.

GK: David de Gea (Manchester United)

De Gea in Man Utd training.
Soccer Football – Pre-Season Friendly – Manchester United Training – Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand – July 11, 2022 Manchester United’s David de Gea during training REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Soccer Football – Pre-Season Friendly – Liverpool Training – Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand – July 11, 2022 Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during training REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

CB: Sergio Ramos (Paris Saint-Germain)

LB: Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

Bayern's Davies celebrates.
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group C – Inter Milan v Bayern Munich – San Siro, Milan, Italy – September 7, 2022 Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies celebrates their second goal scored by Leroy Sane REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

RM: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Man City's De Bruyne warms up.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – August 13, 2022 Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Braut Haaland during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

LM: Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

AM: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)

Atletico's Griezmann on the ball.
Soccer Football – LaLiga – Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo – Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain – September 10, 2022 Celta Vigo’s Joseph Aidoo in action with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann REUTERS/Susana Vera

ST: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

ST: Erling Braut Haaland (Manchester City)

Man City's Haaland and Guardiola.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v Crystal Palace – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – August 27, 2022 Manchester City’s Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their fourth goal with manager Pep Guardiola REUTERS/Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Some rogue choices from the fans

Well, well, well, you know we’re embarking on a brave new era in football when Ronaldo – who was all the way down in 8th – doesn’t get a look in and Messi only makes the cut by the skin of his teeth back in midfield.

And they must be feeling proud of who many supporters are tipping as their successors with both Mbappe and Haaland leading the line despite competition from 2021 Ballon d’Or favourite Benzema.

Elsewhere, there won’t be too many complaints about De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield, while Salah and Van Dijk probably still have enough credit in the bank from last season to hold onto their places.

However, the people haven’t got everything right because with all due respect to Griezmann, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance that he’s the world’s fourth-best player right now above the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Sadio Mane.

Ronaldo or Messi? GMS Shop
Ronaldo or Messi? GMS Shop

Equally, you’ll no doubt join us in shaking our heads as the sight of De Gea between the sticks with his crippling inconsistency since 2018 placing him far behind the likes of Alisson and Ederson.

Meanwhile, Ramos is clearly riding the wave of nostalgia because his injury problems at PSG mean that he’d be lucky to be considered in the world’s top 10 centre-backs at the moment.

So, it just goes to show that getting tens of thousands of supporters to vote on something doesn’t necessarily lead to the right results, but it’s nevertheless exciting to see so much debate about the world’s best XI again.

Ronaldo and Messi in action.
Football Soccer – Barcelona v Real Madrid – Spanish La Liga Santander- Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain – 3/12/16. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in action during the “Clasico”. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN – Tags: SOCCER SPORT)
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