100 Best football players in the world 2022

The ultimate list of the best football players in the world in 2022, based on statistics and match performances.

Collage of Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jorginho, some of the best players in the world.

As the world acclimatizes to 2022, new ideas, new goals and new lists are the primary agendas of netizens who want to do away with the old calendar. And what list is greater in the new year than that of the best football players in the world 2022.

Award platforms like the Balon d'Or, have come under intense criticism in recent years due to their use of a flawed popularity model to recognise outstanding players as exemplified by the Messi-Lewandowski debacle of 2021.

This criterion which comes in form of voting processes from teammates, coaches and journalists, have proven to be inconclusive, as players who do not generate front-page popularity or those with zero PR, are relegated to the trenches.

For example, the 2021 FIFA The Best Award final voting result had Neymar in the top 10, despite the Brazilian managing only 8 league goal contributions all year. On the other hand, a player like Thomas Muller who boasted 40 goal contributions in the more competitive Bundesliga was wholly snubbed.

Mohammed Salah and Karim Benzema have earned rave reviews for their numbers in the tail-end of 2021

This disregard could be attributed to the commercial appeal, flamboyant aura and youthful marketability that the German lacked.

With this indeterminate flaw in mind, Clacified have employed a more definitive yardstick that is purely based on statistics. To determine the best players in the world for 2022. This model ranks players solely on how well they have performed, regardless of transfer valuation, transfer fee, popularity or position.

Selection criteria

Personalities enlisted in this compilation of best football players in the world have first been selected based on a points basis which is primarily determined by the difficulty of the league. The difficulty of the league in turn is ascertained by positioning on UEFA league coefficient rankings.

Leagues with at least a 90 coefficient score see their players awarded with 0.5 points, while leagues with:

  • 80-89 = +0.4 points
  • 70-79 = +0.3 points
  • 60-69 = +0.2 points
  • 50-59 = +0.1 points
  • 40-49 = 0 point
  • 30-39 = -0.1 points
  • 20-29 = -0.2 points
  • 10-19 = -0.3 points
  • 0-9 = -0.4 points. 

This in translation means that if a player from the Danish Superliga is worth 8/10 points, their true value will depreciate by -0.2 points, while a player in the Bundesliga worth 7.3/10 points will see their value appreciate by 0.3 points.

So rather than a massive difference of 0.7 points as seen in their initial valuation, the gap in quality will been shortened to 0.2 in cognizance of the competitiveness of each leagues.

Secondly, players who have amassed a certain amount of points in European competitions are considered and awarded extra points based on the quality of the competition.

  • Champions League = +0.3
  • Europa League = +0.2
  • Conference League = +0.1

Lastly, the competitiveness of the club is the final criterion to conclusively determine quality.

This benchmark has been employed with hindsight from history and factual evidence which show that a player with excellent performances at a smaller club in a top league is not necessarily on the same pedestal as a similar player at a big club in a lesser league.

For example, a top player at Arsenal in the most competitive league worldwide, will not rank above a player with similar metric at PSG, in the more inferior Ligue 1.

Alternatively, a top player from Leicester City is not equivalent in quality to a player from Ajax despite the chasm in the competitiveness of both leagues.

However, due to the fact that the competitive gap between clubs of different leagues has been bridged in recent years, this criterion minimally influences our player ratings.

Timeline

Player points have been accrued from the last quarter of 2020 to December 2021.

International competitions in that period, such as the EUROS and Copa America have not been considered.

This is so as to avoid players from these regions having an advantage over other federations like CAF and AFC, who were without a competitive tournament in that window.

Without further ado, here are the best football players in the world in 2022.

Best football players in the world 2022

S/N

Name

Age

Club(s)

Nationality

Top achievement

1

Lionel Messi

34

Barcelona, PSG

Argentina

2nd top scorer - Europe 2020/21

2

Robert Lewandowski

33

Bayern Munich

Poland

Most league goals since 2020 - Global

3

Joshua Kimmich

26

Bayern Munich

Germany

Most progressive passes - Bundesliga 2020/21

4

Karim Benzema

34

Real Madrid

France

2nd most direct goal contribution - Global first half 2021/22

5

21

Borussia Dortmund

Norway

Golden boot - UCL 2020/21

6

Kevin de Bryune

30

Manchester City

Belgium

2nd most through balls - Europe top leagues 2020/21

7

Trent Alexander-Arnold

23

Liverpool

England

2nd most touches - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

8

Toni Kroos

32

Real Madrid

Germany

Most chances created - UCL 2020/21

9

Dusan Tadic

33

Ajax

Netherlands

Most chances created - UCL Group stages 2021

10

Riyahd Mahrez

30

Manchester City

Algeria

Most carries into opposition penalty area - UCL 2020/21

11

Cristiano Ronaldo

36

Juventus, Manchester United

Portugal

3rd top scorer - Europe top leagues 2020/21

12

Juan Cuadrado

33

Juventus

Colombia

Best playmaker - UCL 2020/21

13

Paulo Dybala

28

Juventus

Argentina

Most shots attempted per minute - Europe first half 2021/22

14

Bruno Fernandes

27

Manchester United

Portugal

2nd most chances created - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

15

Harry Kane

28

Tottenham

England

Most goals + assists - Premier League 2020/21

16

Steven Berghuis

30

Ajax

Netherlands

2nd most big chances created - UCL Group stages 2021

17

Hakan Calhanoglu

27

AC Milan, Internazionale

Turkey

Most chances created - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

18

Lorenzo Insigne

30

Napoli

Italy

3rd most shots attempted - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

19

Thomas Muller

32

Bayern Munich

Germany

Best playmaker - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

20

lkay Gündoğan

31

Manchester City

Germany

2nd most progressive player - UCL 2020/21

21

Mohammed Salah

29

Liverpool

Egypt

Most direct goal contribution - Global first half 2021/22

22

Mason Mount

22

Chelsea

England

4th most chances created - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

23

Kylian Mbappe

23

Paris Saint-Germain

France

2nd top scorer - UCL 2020/21

24

Sebastian Haller

27

Ajax

Ivory Coast

Top scorer - UCL Group stages 2021

25

Christopher Nkunku

24

RB Leipzig

France

Best finisher - UCL Group stages 2021

26

Gerard Moreno

29

Villarreal

Spain

Most goal + assists - Europa League 2020/21

27

Dani Parejo

32

Villarreal

Spain

Most touches - Europa League 2020/21

28

Memphis Depay

27

Lyon, Barcelona

Netherlands

Best playmaker - Ligue 1 2020/21

29

Dimitri Payet

34

Olympique Marseille

France

Most clear-cut chances created since Aug 2020 - Ligue 1

30

Marcelo Brozović

29

Internazionale

Croatia

3rd most progressive passes - UCL Group stages 2021

31

Sebastian Coates

31

Sporting CP

Uruguay

4th most successful pressures - UCL Group stages 2021

32

Iago Aspas

34

Celta Vigo

Spain

Best playmaker - La Liga 2020/21

33

Kingsley Coman

26

Bayern Munich

France

2nd-most big chances created - UCL Group stages 2021/22

34

Leon Goretzka

26

Bayern Munich

Germany

35

Jorginho

30

Chelsea

Italy

Most defensive actions - UCL 2020/21

36

Matteo Kovacic

27

Chelsea

Croatia

37

Reece James

22

Chelsea

England

3rd most crosses - UCL 2020/21

38

Thiago Silva

37

Chelsea

Brazil

10th highest pass accuracy - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

39

Vinícius Junior

21

Real Madrid

Brazil

Most progressive player - Global first half 2021/222

40

Neymar

29

Paris Saint-Germain

Brazil

3rd-most goal contributions - UCL 2020/21

41

Ousmane Dembele

24

Barcelona

France

2nd-most shots on target - UCL 2021/21

42

Rodrigo de Paul

27

Udinese, Atletico Madrid

Argentina

Most progressive player - Serie A 2020/21

43

Cristian Romero

23

Atalanta, Tottenham

Argentina

Most interceptions - UCL 2020/21

44

Lisandro Martinez

24

Ajax

Argentina

Most touches - UCL Group stages 2021

45

Antony

21

Ajax

Brazil

2nd most assists - UCL Group stages 2021

46

Ruslan Malinovskyi

28

Atalanta

Ukraine

Best playmaker - Serie A 2020/21

47

Pedro Gonclaves

23

Sporting CP

Portugal

Golden boot - Primeira Liga 2020/21

48

Filip Kostic

29

Eintracht Frankfurt

Serbia

Most accurate crosses per game - Global first half 2021/22

49

Florian Wirtz

18

Bayer Leverkusen

Germany

4th most assist - Europe's top leagues first half 2021/22

50

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

40

AC Milan

Sweden

3rd-most shots on target per 90 - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

51

Maximilian Arnold

27

Wolfsburg

Germany

3rd most assists - UCL Group stages 2021

52

James Maddison

25

Leicester City

England

2nd most through balls - UEL 2020/21

53

Evander

23

Midtylland

Brazil

Best dribbling accuracy - UCL 2020/21

54

Domenico Berardi

27

Sassuolo

Italy

Most assists - Serie A first half 2021/22

55

Antonio Candreva

34

Sampdoria

Italy

5th most chances created - Europe's top leagues first half 2021/22

56

Serge Gnabry

26

Bayern Munich

German

3rd most big chances created - UCL Group stages 2021

57

Rodri

25

Manchester City

Spain

2nd most accurate passes - 2020/21 Premier League

58

Gabriel Jesus

24

Manchester City

Brazil

Best chance converter - UCL Group stages 2021

59

Bernando Silva

27

Manchester City

Portugal

Most pressures applied - UCL 2020/21

60

Ferran Torres

22

Valencia, Manchester City, Barcelona

Spain

7th most goals per minute -

61

Virgil Van Dijk

30

Liverpool

Netherlands

62

Joel Matip

30

Liverpool

Cameroon

3rd most aerial duels won - UCL 2021/22

63

Andrew Robertson

27

Liverpool

Scotland

Most touches - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

64

Ben Chilwell

25

Chelsea

England

65

Ngolo Kante

30

Chelsea

France

8th most dribbles completed - UCL 2020/21

66

Antonio Rudiger

28

Chelsea

Germany

9th most aerial duels won - UCL 2020/21

67

Romelu Lukaku

28

Chelsea

Belgium

2nd top scorer - Serie A 2020/21

68

Casemiro

29

Real Madrid

Brazil

8th most tackles completed - UCL 2020/21

69

Angel Di Maria

33

Paris Saint-Germain

Argentina

Most big chances created - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

70

Gianluigi Donnarumma

22

Paris Saint-Germain

Italy

2nd highest save percentage - UCL Group stages 2021

71

Federico Chiesa

24

Juventus

Italy

4th most big chances created - Serie A 2020/21

72

Alvaro Morata

29

Juventus

Spain

3rd most goals - UCL 2020/21

73

Jadon Sancho

21

Manchester United

England

3rd most big chances created - Bundesliga 2020/21

74

Antoine Griezmann

30

Atletico Madrid

France

Most non-penalty goals-assists - UCL Group stages 2021

75

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

33

Roma

Armenia

10th most goals+assists - Serie A 2020/21

76

Son Heung-min

29

Tottenham

South Korea

4th best chance converter - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

77

Noussair Mazraoui

24

Ajax

Morocco

Highest scoring defender - Eredivisie first half 2021/22

78

Mehdi Taremi

29

Porto

Iran

2nd most goal contributions since Aug 2020 - Primeira Liga

79

Otavio

26

Porto

Brazil

2nd most fouled player - UCL 2020/21

80

Dominik Szoboszlai

21

RB Salzburg, RB Leipzig

Hungary

7th most big chances created - Bundesliga 2021/22

81

Patson Daka

23

RB Salzburg, Leicester City

Zambia

9th most goals+assists - Global 2020/21

82

Karl Toko Ekambi

29

Olympique Lyon

Cameroon

3rd most chances created - Ligue 1 2020/21

83

Fabian Ruiz

25

Napoli

Spain

Most long-range goals - first half Europe's top leagues 2021/22

84

Victor Osimhen

23

Napoli

Nigeria

Most goals per minute - first half Europa League 2021/22

85

Josip Ilicic

33

Atalanta

Slovenia

Most big chances created - Serie A 2020/21

86

Rafa Silva

28

Porto

Portugal

Most goals+assists - first half Primeira Liga 2021/22

87

Carlos Soler

25

Valencia

Spain

9th most goals+assists - LaLiga 2020/21

88

Jesus Navas

36

Sevilla

Spain

2nd most crosses - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

89

Iuri Medeiros

27

SC Braga

Portugal

5th most goal+assists - first half Primeira Liga 2021/22

90

Cody Gakpo

22

PSV Eindhoven

Netherlands

3rd most goals+assists - first half Eredivisie 2021/22

91

Mario Gotze

29

PSV Eindhoven

Germany

Most assists - first half Europa League 2021/22

92

Ibrahim Sangaré

24

PSV Eindhoven

Ivory Coast

Most tackles+interceptions per game since Aug 2020 - Eredivisie

93

Gernot Trauner

29

Lask, Feyenoord

Austria

Most tackles+interceptions - 2020/21 Austrian Bundesliga

94

Adnan Januzaj

26

Real Sociedad

Belgium

Most chances created - Europa League group stages 2021

95

Andrej Kramaric

30

Hoffenheim

Croatia

4th top scorer - Bundesliga 2020/21

96

Jonas Hofmann

29

Bo russia Mönchengladbach

Germany

7th most assists - Europe's top leagues 2020/21

97

Sergio Canales

30

Real Betis

Spain

4th most big chances created - LaLiga 2020/21

98

Youri Tielemans

24

Leicester City

Belgium

4th most through balls per game - first half Europa League 2021/22

99

Declan Rice

23

West Ham United

England

100

Aaron Cresswell

32

West Ham United

England

5th most big chances created - 2020/21 Premier League