Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Superstars like Ronaldo and Messi have become household names across the globe. Gareth Bale has helped put Wales national soccer team on the map. But who is the best of the best? The stars on this list shine brighter than the rest. They have risen to the highest highs of professional soccer and deserve to be recognized as the best ocean-to-ocean. You won't believe how many players from Bayern Munich make the list!
Christiano Ronaldo Is Better Than Lionel Messi
Let's end the Lionel Messi versus Christiano Ronaldo debate right now. Ronaldo is currently the best soccer player in the world. He was good when it mattered in the World Cup. Messi, on the other hand, disappeared in the big moments and missed a decisive penalty kick.
Being Ronaldo wasn't enough for Portugal, though. His country lost in the quarterfinal to Belgium. Argentina barely made it out of the group stage, then lost in the first knockout round. Ronaldo might not have a trophy, but we'd say he still has bragging rights.
Lionel Messi Is Paid More Than Ronaldo
In 2018, Lionel Messi will earn $111 million. Only $27 million of that paycheck will come from endorsements. That means a whopping $84 million will be paid to him for his performance on the field. Ronaldo, for comparison's sake, will get paid a $61 million salary.
Is Messi worth every penny? It depends who you ask. International fans might be getting tired of his lack of titles, while Barcelona fans are clamoring for more league ones. In league play, Messi has eight La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, and five Ballon d'Ors. He's just never won a title with his national team.
Luis Suarez Revitalized His Career In Barcelona
Luis Suarez always had the talent to be one of the best soccer players in the world. He just lacked the dedication. Playing for Liverpool early in his career, Suarez was hot-headed. When he moved to Barcelona, he cooled down, taking his aggression out on the ball.
In his first two years with Barcelona, he scored 100 goals. In 2016 alone, he scored 59 times in 53 matches! Playing for Uruguay in the World Cup, Suarez was everywhere on the field, helping his national team reach the quarterfinal. Next is Zlatan, but is he ranked too high?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Isn't Washed Up Yet
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the only soccer player on this list currently playing in the United States. After spending 2017 with Manchester United, Zlatan took his talents to Los Angeles, signing with the Galaxy.
In his debut with Los Angeles, Zlatan scored twice. One of his goals came from 45 yards away that gave the Galaxy a 4-3 edge of LAFC. Asked about his performance, the Swede proudly said, "I heard the crowd saying 'We want Zlatan, we want Zlatan', so I gave them Zlatan."
Neymar's Star Is Still On The Rise
If you're keeping count, Neyman is ranked fifth on our list. He's also 26-years-old. In a few years, no one will be surprised if he rises to the top. Playing alongside Messi and Suarez in Barcelona, Neyman has carved out his place in the crowd.
In competition, Neymar is the only player in the history of the Champions League to score goals in both quarterfinal matches, both semifinal matches, and the league final. In 2017, Neymar's team paid $260 million to terminate his contract with Barcelona so he could sign with Paris St. Germain.
Gareth Bale Doesn't Want Your Ronaldo Comparisons
Gareth Bale plays winger for Real Madrid as plays for the Welsh National Team. At Euro 2016, Bale and Wales bullied their way to a semifinal appearance. This came one month after Bale won the Champions League with Real Madrid. In 2017, Bale and Madrid successfully defended their Champions League title.
Despite his success, Bale gets a fair amount of criticism from fans. We're not sure why comparing him to Ronaldo is a bad thing, but apparently, it is. In any case, Bale has had enough success he deserves to be known by his name and not Ronaldo Jr. Coming up is Robert Lewandowski and his insatiable appetite for goals.
Robert Lewandowski Is One Of The Best Goal Scorers In The World
Playing for Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski has become a transcendent goal scorer. In 51 games in 2016, Lewandowski netted 42 goals. Against Wolfsburg, he scored an incredible five goals in nine minutes. Wolfsburg did not win the game.
At 29-years-old, Lewandowski is in his prime. He scored the opening goal for Bayern Munich in German Super Cup. The game, against Bayern's rival Borussia Dortmund, ended 5-4 after a penalty shootout where Lewandowski scored the first goal. Again.
Antoine Griezmann Is On Top Of The World After Winning The World Cup
Without Antoine Griezmann setting the stage for France, they might have lost the World Cup Finals to Croatia. Griezmann was directly involved with three of France's four goals. They won 4-2, but that score easily could have been 2-1.
Griezmann's first goal came off a foul shot 30 yards out of the net. Later he was awarded a penalty kick on a handball and banked it in the back of the net. In the second he keyed a pass to Paul Pogba, who scored on the play. Griezmann was named Man of the Match for his performance.
Manuel Neuer Is The Best Goalie In The World
If one position lacks represent on this list, it is the goalie. Manuel Neuer is the only one here, and for a good reason. No goalkeeper comes close to being as good or valuable to their team. Playing for Bayern Munch, Neuer has won four Bundesliga titles and a Champions League Cup.
Playing for the German National Team, Neuer has been crucial to their success. He roamed the net in 2014 when Germany won the World Cup. In 2018, Germany didn't have the same success, but no one is pointing the finger at Neuer for the team's failure to get out of the group stage.
Alexis Sanchez Is Critical To Chile's International Dominance
For the last four years, Alex Sanchez has dominated the English Premier League. Playing for Arsenal, his nonstop motor has made him a nightmare for opposing defenses. He is also one of the best players Chile has ever produced.
In 2014, Sanchez was the reason Chile won the Copa America Title. In 2015, Chile did it again, and Sanchez was the reason, again. Someday Sanchez might slow down, but at 29-years-old, it won't be for a while. Sorry other teams! Coming up, did you ask for Sergio Ramos, because you might be getting him!
Sergio Ramos Has 11 Trophies On His Mantle
Sergio Ramos is the best defensive player in the world. He has appeared in over 500 matches for Real Madrid, collecting 11 trophies on the way. No current defensive player is as decorated as the Spanish born phenom.
On the international stage, Ramos has been just as good. Anchoring the defense for the national team in 2010, Spain won its first ever World Cup title. From 2008 until 2012, Spain was the dominant soccer force in the world. In 2018, Ramos will earn $13.7 million. Not bad for a player who just turned 31-years-old.
David Alaba Has A Bright Future
Playing for the most decorated German team can be stressful. For David Alaba, showing up to the pitch for Bayern Munich is just another day at the office. No big deal for the 25-year-old wunderkind. Playing defense, he holds down the left side of Bayern's back line without breaking a sweat.
As a player, Alaba is already excellent. Not only is he a defender, but he has the ability to cover several other positions if need. And did you know he also coaches? In 2008, he helped coached Bayern Munich's under-11 team. Next, Jerome Boateng is one of the best, when he's not letting his attitude get in the way.
Jerome Boateng Is German Soccer Royalty
Another player for Bayern Munich, Jerome Boateng works alongside Alaba for the German powerhouse to form a brick wall of defense. Boateng played an integral role in Germany's 2014 World Cup title and has been a part of five league titles.
The 2018 World Cup might be the only negative on Boateng's resume. He collected a red card for an aggressive slide against Sweden and was disqualified from the match. The poor sportsmanship he showed earned him the distinction to be the first German player removed during a match since 2010.
Andres Iniesta Is Known As The "Little Magician"
Reaching the back end of his career, no one will ever question how great of a player Andres Iniesta has been for Spain and Barcelona. For over a decade he has been called the heart of his teams, as well as earning the nickname "Little Magician" for his on-field trickery.
In total, Iniesta has won 12 titles with Barcelona and one World Cup title with the Spanish National Team. Not too shabby. At the end of his most recent season with Barcelona, Iniesta announced he was leaving, having signed a three-year contract with Vissel Kobe in Japan.
Eden Hazard Has Been Up And Down For Chelsea
Eden Hazard is a controversial selection for this list. He was named the player of the year for Chelsea during the 2014-15 campaign, then saw his performance drop dramatically for 2015-16. The next year saw the 27-year-old get close to returning to form.
Still being so young, it's hard to imagine Hazard not finding his magic foot again. In his spare time, Hazard is learning how ownership works. The North American Soccer League was more than happy to take his money to become part owner of San Diego 1904 FC. Still waiting for Paul Pogba? You won't be much longer!
Paul Pogba Set A Transfer Fee Record In 2016
In 2016, Paul Poga transferred from Juventus to Manchester United. To make the move, a record $123 million transfer was paid. Gareth Bale previously set the record in 2013, moving from Tottenham to Real Madrid for $90 million.
Pogba, 22-years-old at the time, has been criticized for his play since coming "home." He originally played for Manchester United before leaving them for Juventus. His performance for France in the World Cup Final helped to silence his critics as he scored the game-winning third goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Scores A Goal A Game
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 39 goals in 45 games for Dortmund in 2016 and came out guns blazing in 2017 averaging a goal a game. Like a certain Chilean from earlier on this list, Aubameyang frustrates defenses with his speed and stamina.
In 2015, Aubameyany was named African Footballer of the year, one of many titles that have come his way. Despite his league successes, Aubameyang has been hesitant to play at the international level. Before the 2018 World Cup, he rejected an invitation from Gabon to compete with them.
Sergio Aguero Helped Manchester City Win Its First Title
In 2012, Sergio Aguero was a critical component to Manchester City winning its first ever Premier League title. He scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time to kick off the celebration. The pure scorer is unstoppable with the ball at his feet and has scored 20 or more goals eight different times.
If anything is holding Aguero back from being higher on this list, it's his ability to stay healthy. Throughout his career, the Argentine star has been plagued by the injury bug. He even had to sit out of the 2014 World Cup because of injuries. Next, you demanded Thomas Muller, so here he is!
Thomas Muller Keeps The Bayern Munich Train Rolling
Thomas Muller received heavy criticism for not scoring a single goal during the 2018 World Cup. The team failed to defend their 2014 title and didn't even make it out of the group stage. Muller, known for being in the right place at the right time to score goals was nowhere to be found.
The most recent World Cup won't be Muller's last. The prolific scorer is still in his 20s and will be hungry to rebound. It's not easy keeping someone with close to 200 career goals down.
Kevin De Bruyne Brought Manchester City Back To Premier League Prominence
Manchester City paid a team record transfer fee of $72 million to sign Kevin De Bruyne in 2015. Three years later De Bruyne repaid the club in spades, leading them to a Premier League title and being named the Premier League Playmaker of the Year.
On the international stage, De Bruyne played for Belgium in the 2018 World Cup and scored a goal against Brazil in the quarterfinals. Belgium would go on to lose to France in the semifinal.