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2022 best male players in the world revealed

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GOAL50 is an annual award that gives fans the power to rank the 50 best footballers in the world over the previous 12 months.

This year GOAL50 featured three categories of players to vote on. In addition to the Men and Women categories, we added a special once-off World Cup Wonders category to pay tribute to the tournament legends of the past.

GOAL50 employs a unique voting system that sees fans voting on a series of head-to-head clashes between players in each category.

There were 2,450 possible player match-ups in each category, and the players with the most victories have now been crowned the GOAL50 2022 winners.

Here are the final standings, and the overall winner, of the Men’s GOAL50 2022!

1 Lionel Messi – PSG & Argentina

The years roll on but Messi’s class and his place among the best players on the planet have never been in question. He registred double figures for goals and assists in Ligue 1 last term, winning the title in the process, and lit up the World Cup with the kind of genius that convince many he’s the greatest to ever touch a football.

2 Neymar – PSG & Brazil

At 30, Neymar remains one of the planet’s most breathtaking talents, with his ability to beat opponents, flummox defenders with his twinkle toes, or make decisive contributions in the final third ensuring he’s received heavy backing from GOAL50 voters. The Brazil superstar has already had a hand in 20 goals in 14 Ligue 1 games this season.

3 Erling Haaland – Manchester City & Norway

Haaland’s impact in the Premier League since signing for Manchester City for a bargain £51 million in the summer has been frightening, with the 22-year-old already striking 18 league goals in 13 league games including three hat-tricks. Expect Haaland to continue terrorising Prem defences in 2023.

4 Karim Benzema – Real Madrid & France

Benzema’s exploits with Real Madrid last season earned the 34-year-old a Ballon d’Or—the award’s oldest winner since 1954 – with a 17-minute hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain en route to the Champions League title being one of several highlights. Injury cost the veteran the chance to spearhead France’s World Cup campaign.

5 Kylian Mbappé – PSG & France

Hailed as Pele’s successor when he won the World Cup with France in 2018, aged just 19, Mbappe has realised his promise and developed into one of the game’s finest players. The 23-year-old won his fourth Ligue 1 Golden Boot, not to mention another title, last season, and PSG fans are delighted that… for now… rumours of a move to Real Madrid have died down.

6 Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City & Belgium

De Bruyne had a direct hand in 33 league goals during Manchester City’s title-winning season last term, being named Player of the Year in the process. His consistent level of brilliance and boundless creativity continue to enthrall.

7 Luka Modric – Real Madrid & Croatia

Still going strong and dictating the tempo for both Real Madrid and Croatia, the Ballon d’Or winner’s class on the ball and marvelous vision continue to set him apart as one of the finest midfielders of this generation. If this World Cup does prove to be his last, it was a glittering farewell to international football.

8 Robert Lewandowski – Barcelona & Poland

Lewandowski hasn’t missed a beat after swapping Bayern Munich for Barcelona, and while Bundesliga defences will be delighted to see the back of him, La Liga’s defenders are already struggling to contain a player who has already scored 18 goals in his first 18 games for the Nou Camp giants.

9 Mohamed Salah – Liverpool & Egypt

It’s testament to the high standards Salah has set for himself during his career that even though he was criticised for not eviscerating opponents as frequently as he had done in 2021, he nonetheless ended the year with another Premier League Golden Boot and with a domestic cup double for Liverpool.

10 Sadio Mané – Bayern Munich & Senegal

2022 has surely been the finest year of Mane’s career, with the 30-year-old firing Senegal to their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title, winning both the FA Cup and League Cup, while reaching the Champions League and finishing second in the Ballon d’Or ranking. It was a bitter injustice that a late injury prevented him from participating at the World Cup.

11 Cristiano Ronaldo – Free Agent & Portugal

The 37-year-old’s recent struggles at Manchester United haven’t made Ronaldo a poor player overnight, and he remains a superstar capable of winning matches for country and…when he finds one…club. He scored 18 league goals last term, making the Premier League Team of the Season.

12 Vinícius Júnior – Real Madrid & Brazil

The 21-22 season was a breakout one for Vini, as he stepped into a key role for Real Madrid as they clinched a league and Champions League double. He scored 22 goals in all competitions last season, although he may not score any in his career as important as the winner to defeat Liverpool in the UCL final.

13 Son Heung-Min – Tottenham Hotspur & South Korea

Son won the Premier League’s Golden Boot in 21-22 after smashing in 23 goals, and while he started this season slowly, he demonstrated his class with a breathtaking 13-minute hat-trick against Leicester City and a moment of genuine brilliance to defeat Portugal at the World Cup.

14 Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur & England

Talisman for club and country, Kane has scored 12 in 15 league games for Tottenham Hotspur so far this season, and while his World Cup ended in heartbreak, he still became England’s joint-top scorer in Qatar.

15 Bernardo Silva – Manchester City & Portugal

The Manchester City schemer who had appeared close to leaving the Etihad Stadium during the offseason, but after sticking around, has been busy reaffirming just how pivotal his intelligence, versatility and end product are to Pep Guardiola’s dream team.

16 Casemiro – Manchester United & Brazil

Since forcing his way into Erik ten Hag’s starting XI at Old Trafford, Casemiro has been busy demonstrating why the Red Devils were so keen to part with £55 million to bring the veteran defensive midfielder to Manchester. Now 30, he can be one of the key building blocks of Ten Hag’s United rebuild.

17 Phil Foden – Manchester City & England

Foden’s ongoing evolution is a joy to behold, with even non-Manchester City supporters enjoying the blossoming of one of the brightest talents England has ever produced. Constantly inventive, dangerous between the lines, a velvet first touch, just how sublime will the 22-year-old become?

18 Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid & Belgium

The world’s top goalkeeper, Courtois was influential as Real Madrid won a record-extending 14th Champions League by defeating Liverpool 1-0 in Paris, with the Belgian stopper pulling off a series of outstanding stops in the final.

19 Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool & Netherlands

Still the outstanding central defender in the world game, Van Dijk exudes calm and authority in the heart of Liverpool’s backline. He’s already achieved great things at Anfield, and expect yet more silverware to follow.

20 Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund & England

The most accomplished teenager in the world game, Bellingham isn’t yet 20 but has already captained Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and starred for England at the World Cup.

21 David Alaba – Real Madrid & Austria

A stalwart for Real Madrid last term as they clinched a league and Champions League double, Alaba didn’t flinch after taking Sergio Ramos’s legendary No. 4 shirt, and began this season by netting the opener in Los Blancos’ 2-0 Super Cup triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt.

22 Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal & Brazil

Thoroughly revitalised since his offseason move from Manchester City to Arsenal, Jesus is relishing life as the leading man at the Emirates Stadium, and has been directly involved in 10 goals in his first 14 league games with the Gunners.

23 Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich & Germany

Had the potential to make the World Cup Team of the Tournament had it not been for Germany’s early exit, Musiala proved himself to be one of the brightest young talents in the world game with his technical prowess, acceleration and awareness in tight spots.

24 João Cancelo – Manchester City & Portugal

Cancelo took his game to new heights last season, bursting forward from the right-side of Manchester City’s backline to make a major impact in the final third. He had a hand in eight Prem goals last season.

25 Joshua Kimmich – Bayern Munich & Germany

Providing dynamism, energy and intensity to the heart of the Bayern Munich midfield, Kimmich is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and his defensive awareness ensures the German champions are rarely caught out.

26 Antonio Rüdiger – Real Madrid & Germany

Currently in his prime after leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid during the summer, Rudiger’s aggressive, assertive defensive play, and improving leadership qualities make him one of the world’s finest centre-backs.

27 Christopher Nkunku – RB Leipzig & France

Nkunku, the reigning Bundesliga Player of the Year, has already scored 17 goals in the German top flight this season – fuelling rumours of a high-profile transfer in 2023 – and it was a real shame that injury prevented him from taking his place in France’s World Cup squad.

28 Rafael Leão – AC Milan & Portugal

Absolutely lethal down the left flank for Portugal and AC Milan, Leao’s pace makes him a dangerous prospect, while his ability to either go outside or cut in before firing at goal make him a fearsome threat. Surely destined for a big move in 2023.

29 Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City & Algeria

The Algeria maestro may have been used sparingly by Manchester City in the Premier League so far this season, but he was the champions’ top scorer last term – with 11 top flight goals – and finished 12th in the Ballon d’Or ranking earlier this year. Expect him to come back strongly in 2023.

30 Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich & Germany

Gnabry has bulked up and matured in recent years at Bayern to become a genuine dangerman out wide; he now brings a consistent end product to the table, and has grown into a true leader at the Allianz Arena.

31 Luis Díaz – Liverpool & Colombia

Diaz surprised even Liverpool fans by slotting seamlessly into Jurgen Klopp’s team after moving to Anfield in January, with his dribbling, acceleration and sharp use of the ball causing immediate problems for Premier League defences. Injuries have slowed his progress in the second half of 2022, but expect big things from the Colombian over the coming 12 months.

32 Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool & England

No other right-back in the world can offer TAA’s blend of attacking vivacity and lethal delivery, and while concerns remain about his defensive qualities, no one can question his success at Liverpool.

33 Darwin Núñez – Liverpool & Uruguay

Maybe it’s been a slow start to life at Liverpool for Nunez, but it’s surely only a matter of time before he settles into his groove at Anfield. His power and movement can cause problems for any defence, and he’s already averaging a goal every other game in the Premier League.

34 Theo Hernández – AC Milan & France

AC Milan’s Hernandez stepped into a key role during France’s run to the World Cup final following injury to Les Bleus’ starting left-back – his brother Lucas – and his forays forward gave the reigning champions a new dimension in attack.

35 Fabinho – Liverpool & Brazil

An underappreciated element of Jurgen Klopp’s magnificent Liverpool side, Fabinho has established himself as one of the finest defensive midfielders in the world, and he’s regularly a crucial element of the Merseysiders’ biggest wins.

36 Dusan Vlahovic – Juventus & Serbia

A nightmare for defenders to play against, Vlahovic’s dynamism, energy, power and pace make him a lethal, rounded frontman for Juventus and Serbia.

37 Julián Álvarez – Manchester City & Argentina

Erling Haaland’s understudy at Manchester City but a star in his own right with the Argentina national side, there’s a sense that Premier League supporters have only had the briefest glimpse of what Alvarez is truly capable of with the ball at his feet. Still only 22, the 2021 Copa America winner should take his game to new heights under Pep Guardiola.

38 Victor Osimhen – Napoli & Nigeria

Proving himself to be a goal threat of genuine quality and consistency at Napoli this season, Osimhen has scored nine in 11 in Serie A so far this season, and is one of the key reasons why the Partenopei are sustaining their unlikely title challenge.

39 Kalidou Koulibaly – Chelsea & Senegal

Commanding in the heart of the backline as Senegal conquered the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, Koulibaly established himself as one of the best center-backs in the world game at Napoli before a high-profile move to Chelsea earlier this year.

40 Ciro Immobile – Lazio & Italy

A European champion with Italy in 2021, the veteran Immobile followed that up with an impressive season in which he struck 27 league goals for Lazio to clinch the Serie A Golden Boot. He’s started 22-23 in a similarly prolific vein.

41 Jack Grealish – Manchester City & England

Some may argue that Grealish still hasn’t truly demonstrated his class – at least not regularly enough – at Manchester City following his £100 million move from Aston Villa, but on his day, at full flow, slaloming past defenders with the ball at his feet, he remains one of the game’s truly outstanding entertainers.

42 Fikayo Tomori – AC Milan & England

Tomori has got his career back on track at AC Milan after being deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, and was influential as the Rossoneri ended their 11-year wait for a Serie A title. Quick, intelligent, strong, it’s surely only a matter of time before the 24-year-old returns to the Premier League.

43 Lorenzo Pellegrini – AS Roma & Italy

Whatever else he achieves in his career, Pellegrini will find it hard to top the conclusion of the 21-22 season, as he captained his boyhood club AS Roma to victory in the inaugural edition of the Uefa Conference League. One of Jose Mourinho’s trusted lieutenants, he won the Serie A Goal of the Month award for both January and March.

44 Hirving Lozano – Napoli & Mexico

Mexico’s star man, and one of several members of Luciano Spalletti’s magnificent Napoli side to make GOAL50, Chucky has overcome fan criticism at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium to establish himself as one of the would-be Italian champions’ key threats.

45 Mike Maignan – AC Milan & France

A French champion with Lille in 2021, Magic Mike then followed that up by helping AC Milan end their decade-long wait for a Scudetto last term, with the Rossoneri’s defensive record – the joint best in the division – underpinning their title triumph.

46 Sébastien Haller – Dortmund & Ivory Coast

Haller broke records aplently in the Champions League last season – including becoming the first player to score in seven consecutive UCL matches – and promtly signed for Borussia Dortmund in a €31 million deal after having scored 21 goals en route to another Eredivisie title. The 28-year-old will be hoping to bounce back in 2023 after a cancer diagnosis put his BVB career on pause.

47 Gabriel Barbosa – Flamengo & Brazil

Gabriel has been scoring goals and picking up silverware relentlessly since signing for Flamengo in an €18.5 million deal in 2020, and reaffirmed his big game mentality with the winner to secure the 2022 Copa Libertadores against Athletico Paranaense in October.

48 Hulk – Atletico Mineiro & Brazil

The ex-FC Porto phenomenon is still a force of nature at 36, and rolled back the years to slam home 29 goals last season as Atletico Mineiro won a treble. He’s added to his trophy cabinet again with the Mineiro State Championship and Brazilian Super Cup in 2022, and despite his advancing years, shows little sign of slowing down.

49 Patrik Schick – Bayer Leverkusen & Czechia

One of the Bundesliga’s finest goal-getters since arriving at Bayer from AS Roma in 2020, Schick’s 24 goals were critical in ensuring Leverkusen qualified for the Champions League last term. Newcastle United and Manchester City have been linked to his signature.

50 Raphael Veiga – Palmeiras & Brazil

The Palmeiras talisman has won seven titles with the Sao Paulo giants since finally becoming a key figure at the club following Abel Ferreira’s arrival in 2020. Twice a Copa Libertadores winner, he was influential as Palmeiras won the Brazilian Serie A, Sao Paulo state championship and Recopa Sudamericana in 2022.


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