In the fourth instalment of ten blogs over the upcoming week and a half, I will be continuing the Top 100 Players countdown from 70th-61st place on our chart. I thought I would start the blog by recounting the year of 200 of the genius or plonker (make up your mind as to which) that is Mario Balotelli. March was a relatively busy month even by the Italian’s standards and it starts when he had to be substituted away to Dynamo Kyiv. Why? It turns out that he had suffered an allergic reaction to the grass at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy stadium. Against the same opponents exactly a week later, he proved to old adage that footballers are stupid when he needed help from a Manchester City coach to help him put on a bib. Towards the end of the month, he got fined £100,000 for throwing darts at youth team players for a prank. The month of September saw Balotelli use his iPad when he was put on the substitute’s bench for Italy. October saw fireworks set off at Balotelli’s house and a week later he was named as an ambassador for the firework safety campaign; what’s next-Rooney being made an ambassador for L’Oreal due to his ‘natural’ hair. The Manchester derby the following day produced what will be remembered as one of the most iconic celebrations when he pulled his shirt over his head to reveal the infamous “Why always me?” phrase. There is much more that could be said about the eccentric youngster and that is just a few of the crazy things he has done this year. Now let’s get cracking on with the countdown from 70-61.
70-Seydou Doumbia—CSKA Moscow—Ivory Coast—Striker
The Ivory Coast are sound in the knowledge that they have an able replacement when Didier Drogba retires as they have Seydou Doumbia to replace him. In 41 games in all competitions this year, he has scored 33 goals for CSKA Moscow, an average of a goal every 1.2 games. Since moving to Europe 3 years ago from Japan, he has played for Young Boys Bern in Switzerland and CSKA Moscow and has scored 102 goals in 136 games for both clubs in all competitions.
The winger is now firmly entrenched as part of the Barcelona and Spain sides after a meteoric rise to the Barcelona team in the 2009-2010 season. Last season saw Pedro grab 22 goals and 10 assists in 54 matches in all competitions and was rewarded with a new contract until 2016. However this season has seen the Tenerife born player struggle for the Catalan side with only 5 goals and 4 assists in 21 matches in all competitions but this is bound to improve in the New Year.
Having been moved from his natural position of centre back to left back to accommodate the new Juventus centre back partnership of Leandro Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli has proved a success for the hard tackling player. The Italy vice captain has been so successful at left back he has managed to keep Pablo De Ceglie out of the side and has played a key part in his teams’ challenge for the Serie A title under the management of Antonio Conte.
Senegal has produced a bunch of quality strikers over the past few years but Moussa Sow is at the top of the pile after helping Lille to secure their first league title since 1954. This was achieved in no part to Sow’s 25 goals and 3 assists in 36 games, in which he got 3 hat tricks along the way. The 2011-2012 season hasn’t lived up to last season but after 17 games so far, he has scored a respectable 6 goals and he is bound to get more in the rest of the season.
Introducing yourself to the club in a press conference with a lion mask covering his face helped to endear Inler to Napoli fans after signing for Napoli. He helped his old club Udinese qualify for the Champions League and he has been a key part of the Napoli side that has reached the group stages of the same tournament. The tough tackling central midfielder helps to enable the attacking prowess of his side by preventing any possible attacks and by creating oppurtunites for the likes of Cavani.
Benfica has been a stepping stone for many Argentine midfielders and Nicolas Gaitan has been no exception to that. Manchester United have been linked with a £25 million pounds for the midfielder after stunning performances against them in the Champions League. However, according to Gaitan’s agent Jose Iribarren said “Gaitan still has much more to give at Benfica … He is doing a great job and it is normal that foreign clubs are following him but he is currently happy where he is.”
Despite me being sceptical about the Chilean’s move to Barcelona after only one outstanding season for Udinese, he has proved me wrong and has adapted well to life at the Nou Camp club. He got his move after 12 goals and 6 assists in 31 games and an impressive Copa America for Chile; he managed to get on the score sheet against the eventual champions Uruguay and impressed with his attacking play. Sanchez was also able to score the equalizer in his first El Classico match.
Despite his young age of 24, he has remained a pillar of both the Lyon and France side despite their troubles over the past few years. He has impressed so much he has elevated to the vice captain of Lyon and is one of the few people in contention to become the permanent French captain. It is in no doubt he will play at a higher level in the near future and he can only enhance his reputation in 2012 with a successful Euro 2012 and by helping Lyon’s chances in the 2011-2012 Champions League.
62-Antonio Di Natale—Udinese—Italy—Striker
For someone who turned 34 years old in October, he is in the form of his life and has been awarded the Italian Golden Boot for the last 2 seasons. In the last 2 seasons, he has scored 38 goals in 50 matches in Serie A; he is proving that age is only a number. Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have a better strike rate than him last season and Di Natale said “My dream is to hit 150 goals in Serie A, I would move past many great champions” and this should be achieved in the near future.
61-Juan Manuel Mata—Chelsea—Spain—Midfielder
Spanish playmakers are proving to be the crème de la crème in their position and Juan Manuel Mata is no exception. Pundits and fans alike describe Mata as Chelsea’s creative “spark” and has filled the void for Chelsea in that position and with 7 assists and 3 strikes in 14 games for the Stamford Bridge club, this backs up all the hype about him. Vicente Del Bosque would be mad to leave out the former Valencia man out of the squad when Spain will try to defend their title at the upcoming Euro 2012.
Thanks for reading the Top 100 so far from the players ranked 70th-61st 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 60th-51st will be uploaded on Thursday.
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/
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