Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and the rest. Supporting strikers and wingers make for a pretty wide selection pool, but there’s no doubt who the top two at this vague position definition are. Messi and Ronaldo have been above the rest of the football world for a few years now, and it ain’t about to change.
Joining them as the best forwards who aren’t strikers in the world, entering 2012, are Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery from the Bundesliga, Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria from Real Madrid, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney from Manchester United and David Silva all alone.
Number 9 – Mario Gotze, Dortmund & Germany
If Gotze made a good impression in 2010-2011, this first half of the season has proven that Gotze isn’t just ready to lead Dortmund, and impress for the national team, despite not reaching his 20th birthday. Mario Gotze is being courted by quite a few bigger European club, but if Dortmund manage to hang on to him there’s real potential for another German empire besides Bayern.
Number 8 – Antonio Valencia, Manchester United & Ecuador
Speed and work effort go a long way, and if it wasn’t for the injuries that have been plaguing Valencia these past two seasons, he might be ranked a bit higher. Valencia has been playing right back for most of this season so far as Alex Ferguson once again has to shuffle through his defensive ranks, but has been spectacular so far when playing his original position, out preforming other wingers like Nani and Ashley Young.
Number 7 – Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid & Germany
Ozil isn’t surprising anyone this year, and probably gets more closely watched that on his debut season with real. Still, his passing ability and quality with the ball as some sort of a pace changer in Real Madrid’s hectic counter attacks adds another dimension to the improved Real Madrid. If only he would have stopped with the disappearing acts, especially against Barcelona.
Number 6 – Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich & France
Like Bayern Munich, Ribery’s form is more of one year on, one year off. This season, Ribery’s been fantastic, playing like expected of France’s premier player. Even the talks surrounding his future with the Bavarian club, currently leading the Bundesliga, seems to be much clearer than ever, with Ribery declaring he’s willing to end his career with Bayern.
Number 5 – Angel di Maria, Real Madrid & Argentina
Simple as that – The best player on Real Madrid not named Cristiano Ronaldo, and without the frown. Di Maria’s speed with and without the ball is nearly impossible to handle. Besides his passing and crossing, Di Maria has certainly become more and more of a successful finisher in front of goal, scoring 14 goals on his first 18 months with the club.
Number 4 – David Silva, Spain & Manchester City
From growing, or adjusting pains in 2010-2011, David Silva has turned into the club’s most important player. When David Silva was unstoppable, Manchester City were as well. His performance in the 6-1 win at Old Trafford over United was probably the finest example. Silva at his best does everything on one leg, building up plays and also finishing them. So far this season, deserved to win players of the season in the Premier League, with 5 goals and 12 assists so far.
Number 3 – Wayne Rooney, Manchester United & England
Despite the behavior, the rumors and the relationship with Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney is the link to everything with the club. If he’s good, than United look more than just a boring team, scraping out wins. He can play up front, behind the striker, on the wings or in the middle. Rooney’s effort and ability to score or create goals is among the best in Europe, but his temper and off the field behavior get in the way of his excellence too often.
Number 2 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid & Portugal
The best scorer in the world, but still looking for his first league or European title with Real Madrid. Chances are that something is going to change this season. Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in 18 league matches so far for Real, 26 in all competitions so far. He’ll beat Messi for the golden boot, and so far it looks like he’s going to win the La Liga title as well. He’s just gotta step up in the big matches, meaning Barcelona. His change of thought through some of the matches this year, meaning not a complete shoot first mentality, has benefited the club.
Number 1 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona & Argentina
A third FIFA Ballon d’Or to cap off another fantastic year, winning the La Liga title and the Champions League. Unlike Ronaldo, which is easy to explain why he’s so good due to his physical attributes, Messi remains a wonder. The variety of ways he can hurt you, the ball just glued to his feet and the way defenses just go crazy in panic as he approaches them. Messi isn’t an impressive figure like Ronaldo and is certainly much more boring, but as far as history and current times are concerned, Messi is the best player in the world right now.