As 2011 draws to a close, I will be counting down the 100 best players over the past year. In a year which has seen the racism issue being ‘solved’ by a handshake according to the ‘legend’ that is Sepp Blatter, Balotelli setting off fireworks in his house before being made an ambassador of the firework safety campaign and Tevez refusing to come off the bench against Bayern Munich and his excuse was that he couldn’t understand what his boss Mancini was saying as he can’t speak English, despite being in the country for 5 years! However, there have been some sad incidents this year with the untimely deaths of Wales manager Gary Speed and Brazilian legend Socrates amongst others and they have and will continue to be mourned by the football world. I thought I would start by naming some players who just missed out on the Top 100 and they are the aforementioned Mario Balotelli, Rennes defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila, Steven Fletecher-the Wolvs striker who had the best goals per shots ratio last season, Copa America winner and Inter striker Diego Forlan and Real Madrid left back Marcelo amongst others.
Spanish players lead the list with 17 Spaniards on the list, with the French and the Germans having 9 players each, Germany and Holland have 7 players while England has 6 players. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona has the most players with 11 of them in the Top 100, Real Madrid have 10 players and Manchester City have 7 players on the list. La Liga has the most players with 28 but the Premier League is only one behind with 27 players. Midfielders lead the list with 42 of them, while there are 27 strikers, 23 defenders and 8 goalkeepers. This blog is the first to be published over a period of 10 days (excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day) and today will be focused on the players ranked from 100th-91st in the list.
100-Alexander Kerzhakov—Zenit St Peterburg—Russia—Striker
Alexander Kerzhakov has helped Zenit to win the first phase of the Russian Premier League with 16 league goals and 5 assists in 22 league games, which made him the second top scorer of the league behind Seydou Doumbia. He wasn’t at his best internationally for Russia but his club form has seen him sneak into the Top 100.
A disappointing season at Bayern Munich in which he only got 1 goal in 20 matches saw him leave the club and head for the new pastures of Italy when he signed for Lazio, where he has excelled with 8 goals and 3 assists in 13 matches including a 93rd minute winner against rivals Roma. The veteran striker also got 9 goals and 2 assists for Germany in Euro 2012 qualifying, which leaves him on 63 goals and only 5 behind Gerd Muller’s record.
The La Roja have found a able replacement for Joan Capdevila at left back in the form of Valencia’s Jordi Alba. He was converted to a left back from a left midfielder by Unai Emery and this move has paid dividends for club and country as he is steady at the back and strong going forward. He has got a goal and an assist in 10 league matches this season and made his Spain debut against Scotland, in which he assisted the opener.
97-Tim Krul—Newcastle United—Holland—Goalkeeper
Last season proved to be a breakthrough season for the Dutchman after a stroke of luck when first choice keeper Steve Harper got injured. However, Krul impressed Newcastle boss Alan Pardew so much he kept him placed in the side and he has gone from strength to strength and has helped Newcastle to a great start at the season and he has kept 5 clean sheets in the process. He also made his international debut for Holland against Brazil.
Now a permanent fixture for both club and country, Shaqiri is starting to make a name for himself abroad where a move to a big club beckons. He had a successful European Under 21’s Championships, in which he helped Switzerland to the final and was named in the team of the tournament. He also provided both assists to help Basel beat Manchester United 2-1 and knock them out of the Champions League while sending the unfancied Basel through.
95-Juan Manuel Vargas—Fiorentina—Peru—Defender
The Peru captain has been a bright light in Fiorentina’s struggles in Sinisa Mihajlovic’s reign at the club and this has seen him linked to Liverpool and Real Madrid. However the left back’s shining moment was helping his country Peru to a 3rd place finish at the Copa America, in which he got sent off in the semi final against Uruguay but this has done little to hamper his reputation in his homeland.
Charlie Adam’s boss at Blackpool Ian Holloway quoted “If Charlie Adam is worth £4 million pounds then I’m a Scotsman named McTavish”. This was after the Scotland international had almost single handedly kept Blackpool out of the relegation zone before finally succumbing to the drop and he was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award. He then moved to Liverpool for £7 million pounds and he looks to be a good capture so far for the Anfield side.
93-Claudio Pizarro—Werder Bremen—Peru—Striker
Former Chelsea flop Claudio Pizarro is having something of an Indian Summer at Werder Bremen, in which he has got 12 goals and 6 assists in 14 league matches so far, which takes his record for the side to 111 goals in 201 games for the club in his second spell. The Peruvian was left out of his country’s squad for the Copa America after disagreements with his confederation dating back to 2007. An interesting fact about Pizarro is that he owns a racehorse with QPR midfielder Joey Barton.
One of many members from the Barcelona side to have graduated from the clubs youth academy La Masia, Busquets is a mainstay for the club and is one of the first names on the team sheet as his defensive midfield role allows his fellow midfielders and strikers to create and attack while he guards the defence. In his short career so far, he has got 37 caps for Spain and few would bet against him reaching 100 games for his country.
91-Fabio Coentrao—Real Madrid—Portugal—Defender
Many people saw Real Madrid’s signing of the Portuguese left back for £27 million pounds from Benfica and Ezequiel Garay as unnessecary due to the club already having an able left back in Marcelo. However he has proved his doubters wrong and has impressed for Real Madrid with 2 assists in 10 La Liga matches so far. He can also play as a left winger and has featured a few times for his new side as a central midfielder.
Thanks for reading the Top 100 so far from the players ranked 100th to 91st on the list. Please comment on what you think so far and if you think some players are being underrated or perhaps the opposite, tell me what you think. The next instalment of players ranked from 90th-81st will be uploaded on Tuesday.
Also, can you sign this petition to help Barnet FC stay at Underhill for the foreseeable future as they have been told by the Football League they can’t stay there next season due to Barnet Council’s pathetic stipulations and hypocrisy. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keeping-barnet-fc-at-underhill/