Best Footballers in the World in 2024: The big competition between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might not be as intense in today’s football, but the question of who’s the best remains as new stars emerge. We made a list considering various things like recent performance, but we didn’t let one outstanding or poor season overshadow players with a consistent history of excellence.
We looked at trophies, the strength of the leagues they play in, basic statistics, that special something that makes a player magical, and more to decide our top 10. We know you might strongly disagree with us.
To give you a taste of how strong the top 10 is, we didn’t include great defenders like Rúben Dias and Virgil van Dijk, creative player Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United, and superstar Neymar from PSG in our rankings.
Best Footballers in the World in 2024
Urdusport.com presents our clear list of the top 10 football players in the world for 2024.
10. Karim Benzema (Al-Ittihad)
Benzema has made a remarkable comeback to the top football players list, thriving in Saudi Arabia after nearly two decades in the game. In the 2021/22 season, he had one of the best performances of his career, securing a spot on this list with 27 goals in 32 La Liga games.
What sets Benzema apart is his consistency, having achieved four consecutive 20-goal seasons before the latest one. His impressive goal-scoring record is complemented by numerous assists, showcasing his hard work, team spirit, and impact on Madrid’s success. Recognized for his outstanding performances, he has been named French Player of the Year four times and received the prestigious UEFA Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or awards in 2021 and 2022.
At the age of 34 years and 302 days, Benzema became the third-oldest player to win the Ballon d’Or. In a surprising move, on June 6, 2023, Saudi Professional League club Al-Ittihad announced the signing of Benzema on a free transfer. Two days later, they officially presented him as their new signing in a grand ceremony at the King Abdullah Sports City, attended by a large number of fans.
Benzema marked his debut for Al-Ittihad on July 27, scoring a goal and providing an assist in a victory over Espérance de Tunis during the Arab Club Champions Cup.
9. Sadio Mane (Al Nassr)
Mane’s impact on Liverpool continues to be felt long after his departure, especially given the current challenges faced by the Reds. His absence is glaring, even with the presence of some talented young players in the team.
In the previous Premier League season, the Senegalese winger scored an impressive 16 goals. In the Bundesliga, he has kicked off his journey with a new club by scoring three goals in as many games, establishing himself as the key player in the team.
On August 1, 2023, Al Nassr, a club in the Saudi Pro League, officially announced Mane’s signing. Interestingly, Mane disclosed that former Liverpool teammates Fabinho and Roberto Firmino had suggested he consider joining their respective clubs, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli, in Saudi Arabia. Jordan Henderson, his former captain, also sent him a good luck message upon his move to Saudi Arabia.
Making his debut just two days later in the 2023 Arab Club Champions Cup, Mane entered the game at halftime and contributed to a draw against Zamalek. He scored his first goal for Al Nassr on August 14 in a league match, although the team ended up losing against Al-Ettifaq.
Known for his sharp and decisive runs that have troubled many opponents throughout his career, Mane’s move to Saudi Arabia provides him with a new platform to make a significant impact in the league.
8. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Salah’s style of direct running may seem straightforward to soccer enthusiasts, but its impact is undeniable. While he may not have the comprehensive skill set of some higher-ranked players, there are few globally who excel as much as he does in swiftly moving the ball down the wings and driving into the penalty area.
Salah is more than just a player for Liverpool; he’s their talisman, an icon, often referred to as their Egyptian king.
Even though he reached his peak later in his career compared to many other superstars, there’s no doubt that he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats in the Premier League.
7. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
When it comes to sheer effectiveness, one could argue that Salah might be ahead of De Bruyne. However, in terms of the overall package encompassing skills, technical ability, physical attributes, and mental toughness, De Bruyne could well be considered the No. 1 complete footballer in the world today. His significant involvement in the 2022–23 season played a key role as Manchester City secured their first continental treble.
De Bruyne is recognized as the best football crosser in Premier League history, showcasing his ability to make some of the most incredible passes ever witnessed on the field. Not only is he a playmaker, but he’s also capable of scoring goals, demonstrating the versatility in his game.
What truly sets De Bruyne apart from similar players is his surprising pace and physical strength. Contrary to expectations, the Belgian is stronger than anticipated, and at full speed, he proves to be a swift and dynamic player on the football field. In essence, he possesses a comprehensive skill set, making him stand out as a player with the ability to excel in every aspect of the game.
6. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Haaland’s primary rival for the title of “Best Player in the World” is undoubtedly Kylian Mbappe. Despite the top two players on this list being 36 and over, Mbappe, at the age of 24, is poised to dominate in the years to come.
Mbappe is known for his incredible acceleration, leaving opponents in awe. At just 24 years old, he has already scored 230 goals for PSG and 46 goals in 75 international appearances for the French national team.
In the 2022 World Cup, Mbappe made a significant impact. After playing crucial roles in France’s victories against England and Morocco in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively, he achieved a historic feat in the final against Argentina. Mbappe became only the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, netting three goals. Despite being 2–0 down with just over ten minutes remaining, Mbappe scored twice in two minutes, including a stunning volley after a one-two with Marcus Thuram. Although Argentina took the lead again in extra time, Mbappe scored a penalty to level the score at 3–3. The match ultimately went to a penalty shoot-out, where Mbappe scored his penalty, but France lost.
Mbappe secured the tournament’s Golden Boot with eight goals, becoming the sixth all-time top goalscorer in World Cup history with twelve goals, tied with Pelé. Notably, his hat-trick in the final was the first in a men’s World Cup final since Geoff Hurst for England in 1966. With a goal in the 2018 final as well, Mbappe became the outright top goalscorer in World Cup finals with four goals.
Describing Mbappe’s playing style, it’s noted that when he runs towards you, there’s little you can do except hope for support and perhaps shed a tear. His precise control is unmatched, and his clinical finishing ability adds the perfect touch to his game.
5. Harry Kane (Bayern Munich)
Consistently, Kane has scored more than 20 goals whenever he has played over 30 Premier League games for Tottenham in a season. Even in seasons where he faced significant injuries, he achieved remarkable success. However, the English talisman is not just about impressive statistics. His passing range, technique, vision, and playmaking abilities set him apart from nearly every other striker worldwide. He is an extraordinary talent deserving of trophies in his collection.
In 2023, Kane made headlines by becoming the most expensive signing in Bundesliga history, with Bayern Munich acquiring his services for €110 million.
On March 23, 2023, Kane scored a penalty in a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier. This goal, his 54th for England, surpassed Rooney’s record, making Kane England’s all-time leading goalscorer. Notably, Kane achieved this milestone with 39 fewer games than Rooney, boasting a scoring rate of 0.7 goals per game, higher than most of England’s recent top goalscorers.
4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
Lewandowski stands out as one of the fittest players globally, a fact that’s beyond any doubt and has been the case for quite some time. It’s indeed unfortunate that this remarkable career has not been adorned with a Ballon d’Or win.
The Polish icon possesses a well-rounded skill set, blending pace, power, and technical ability. His movements within the penalty area are exceptional, showcasing impeccable positioning. In a one-on-one situation, there’s no one you’d trust more than Lewandowski.
While raw stats aren’t the sole measure of a player’s greatness, let’s dive into some of Lewandowski’s impressive numbers. During his time with FC Bayern Munich, he scored a staggering 344 goals in 375 games across all competitions. In the 2020/21 season alone, he netted 41 goals in the Bundesliga in just 29 games. Now, as he transitions to Barcelona, he seems to be settling in well, maintaining his high standards.
3. Erling Haaland (Man City)
We now come to the first player on the list, and he has tremendous potential to reach the coveted No. 1 spot in the coming years.
Haaland has been nothing short of outstanding since bursting onto the professional football scene. His success at Red Bull Salzburg was notable, and he continued to impress, making a significant impact in the Bundesliga while playing for Borussia Dortmund. During his time at Dortmund, he scored a remarkable 86 goals in 89 games.
Standing at 6ft 4in, Haaland is a powerhouse, a force that few can contend with. Defenses in the Premier League are quickly realizing this as he continues to showcase excellent form.
In the summer of 2022, he made a transfer to Manchester City for a fee of €60 million (£51.2 million) and played a key role in the club’s achievement of a continental treble in his debut season. His 52 goals across all competitions set a record for the most ever by a Premier League player in a single season. Haaland’s exceptional performance earned him the titles of Young Player and Player of the Season in the league, making him the first player to win both awards in the same year. His trajectory suggests that he is a player with the potential to climb to the very top of the football world shortly.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr)
Ronaldo has experienced a notable shift in his position on this list, having been a dominant force at the top for over a decade.
Although it’s evident that his peak years are now behind him as he approaches the final phase of his career, there’s no diminishing the impact he continues to make. Even with a somewhat rocky start to the new season with Al Nassr, Ronaldo remains a potent force on the field.
Ronaldo’s playing style has transformed from a speedy winger to a talismanic center forward, and he still ranks among the best in the business when it comes to keeping his composure and scoring crucial goals, particularly in the latter stages of a match.
Remarkably, he managed to score over 50 goals in the calendar year of 2023, a feat matched only by Haaland in the current year. Despite the evolving landscape of football, Ronaldo remains a lethal and impactful player.
1. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)
Yes, you read it right – Ronaldo fell to 2nd place. There’s no attempt to conceal the fact that Lionel Messi didn’t reach the extraordinary heights we’re used to seeing from him in America and Qatar last season, at least not by his own ridiculously high standards.
Messi and Ronaldo are undoubtedly destined to be remembered among the three greatest football players of all time, alongside the late great Diego Maradona. While Ronaldo’s role may have been somewhat toned down, Messi is still giving us the full, unfiltered version.
Messi, the current Ballon d’Or holder, had an incredible final season at Inter Miami, capped off by winning the World Cup with Argentina. His influence on the game should never be underestimated, and his talent always deserves full recognition.
Despite a somewhat challenging start at Inter Miami, Messi managed to score 11 goals and provide 14 assists in 14 games across all competitions, including winning the Leagues Cup in 2023. As he begins the 2023/24 season, there’s a sense that we could be in for another stellar season from the diminutive wizard.
Who is the best footballer in the world?
Lionel Messi is still considered the best in football, even though some people might question it as he gets older. His amazing skills, backed by almost two decades of both clear data and incredible talent, make Messi not just the best right now, but the best.
Even though not everyone might agree with this opinion, that’s okay! In football, people have different views, and it’s these disagreements that make the game interesting. We’ve even set up a poll at the top of the article, so you can choose your favorite.