List of the best football players in the world in 2023. | World’s best football players in 2023
World’s best football players in 2023
Neymar Júnior, also known as Neymar, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Al Hilal and the Brazil national team. He is a prolific goalscorer and playmaker, scoring at least 100 goals for three different clubs. Neymar made his professional debut at 17 and became the Brazilian league star player. He won the 2011 Copa Libertadores with Santos and was named the South American Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Neymar transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for €222 million, becoming the most expensive player ever. He is the all-time top goalscorer for Brazil and has won the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the Golden Ball. He has been named the FIFA Puskás Award, FIFA FIFPro World11, and UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season three times.
In March 2023, PSG announced Neymar’s surgery and ruled him out for the season, leading to protests and demands for his departure. On 15 August, Neymar signed a two-year contract with Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, worth €90 million, making him the most expensive purchase in the Saudi Pro League.
09. Erling Haaland
Erling Braut Haaland is a Norwegian professional footballer known for his speed, strength, positioning, and finishing inside the box. He holds the record for the most goals scored by a player in a single Premier League season with 36. Haaland played for Bryne’s reserve and senior teams, Molde, Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester City. He won the Young Player of the Season and Premier League Player of the Season awards in 2022.
Haaland has broken several records, including scoring goals in five consecutive UEFA Champions League matches, being the top scorer of the Champions League for both 2020 and 2022 seasons, and breaking Premier League records. He represented Norway at various youth levels and made his senior international debut in September 2019.
Manchester City’s new Premier League campaign began with Haaland scoring a brace against Burnley. He won his first trophy in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla. Haaland was awarded PFA Players’ Player of the Year and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. He broke Andy Cole’s record of 50 Premier League goal contributions in 39 games.
08. Harry Kane
Harry Edward Kane is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and captains the England national team. Kane is a prolific goalscorer, having scored over 350 goals for both clubs and the country. He has played for Tottenham Hotspur, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Leicester City, and Norwich City. Kane’s involvement increased after Mauricio Pochettino became head coach in 2014, and he was named PFA Young Player of the Year in his first season. He finished as the league’s top goalscorer and top assist provider in the 2020-21 season. In 2023, he became the most expensive signing in Bundesliga history.
England’s Wayne Rooney has been a key player in the country’s football history, scoring 50 goals in the league phase of the 2022–23 UEFA Nations League. Kane’s 50th international goal in June 2022 made him the second player to score 50 goals for England, three goals behind Wayne Rooney. Kane’s 54th goal in a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier overtook Rooney’s record, making him England’s all-time record goalscorer. His record is notable for his success and high number of penalties, with 19 of his 56 goals coming from the penalty spot.
07. Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Manchester City and the Belgium national team. He is considered one of the greatest players of his generation and one of the best midfielders in the world. De Bruyne began his career at Genk, then joined Chelsea, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, and Manchester City. He has won the UEFA Champions League, five Premier League titles, five League Cups, and two FA Cups with the club. In 2017-18, he helped Manchester City achieve 100 points in a single season.
De Bruyne made his full international debut in 2010, earning over 90 caps and 26 goals for Belgium. He has been named in various awards, including the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season, IFFHS Men’s World Team, ESM Team of the Year, FIFA FIFPRO World 11 and UEFA Team of the Year.
De Bruyne scored a brace and assist in a 4-1 win over Arsenal in April 2023, reducing their rival’s lead. He scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. He played 36 minutes in his second Champions League final due to a hamstring injury. De Bruyne was nominated for UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award after the season. De Bruyne became Belgium’s new captain after Eden Hazard’s retirement, leading Belgium to a 3-2 friendly win against Germany, marking the first time since 1954.
06. Luka Modrić
Luka Modrić is a Croatian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Real Madrid and captains the Croatia national team. Born in 1985, Modrić began his career with Dinamo Zagreb before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008. He led them to UEFA Champions League qualification in 2010 and has won 23 major trophies at Madrid, including five UEFA Champions League titles, three La Liga titles, and two Copa del Rey titles. Modrić has won numerous individual awards, including the Ballon d’Or in 2018, the Best FIFA Men’s Player, and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award.
He has also been named in the FIFPRO World 11 six times and the UEFA Team of the Year three times. Modrić has become Croatia’s most capped player in history and has been named Croatian Footballer of the Year eleven times between 2007 and 2022.
Modrić scored his first goal and assist in La Liga on 20 August 2022, becoming the eighth Real Madrid player with 100 appearances in the Champions League. He became the third Real Madrid player to play 100 games over 35 years old.
05. Karim Benzema
Karim Mostafa Benzema is a French professional footballer who plays as a striker for Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad . He is considered one of the best strikers of all time, known for his goal-scoring ability, technical skills, vision, and versatility. Benzema began his career with Olympique Lyonnais in 2005 and joined Real Madrid in 2009 for €35 million. He achieved a consistent goalscoring rate with Real Madrid, including four Champions League wins from 2014 to 2018.
After Ronaldo’s departure in 2018, Benzema transitioned into a sole striker and won La Liga Team of the Season for four consecutive years. He is France’s sixth-highest all-time top goalscorer and has been named French Player of the Year four times. He has also won the UEFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or.
Real Madrid’s Benzema scored a hat-trick in a 6–0 win over Real Valladolid, becoming the club’s third fastest hat-trick scorer in La Liga history. He also scored a back-to-back hat-trick in a 4–0 Copa del Rey semi-final victory against Barcelona. Benzema was part of the team that won against Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final. Real Madrid announced his departure on 4 June, with a rapturous reception from Madrid fans.
Al-Ittihad signed Saudi Benzema on a free transfer in June 2023, and he made his debut on 27 July in the Arab Club Champions Cup, scoring a goal and providing an assist.
04. Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé Lottin is a French professional footballer known for his dribbling abilities, speed, and finishing. Born in Paris, he began his senior club career with Monaco in 2015 and signed for Paris Saint-Germain at age 18. With PSG, he has won five Ligue 1 titles and three Coupes de France, leading the club to its first UEFA Champions League final in 2020. Mbappé made his senior debut for France in 2017, becoming the youngest French player to score at a World Cup and the second teenager to score in a World Cup Final.
He has won numerous awards, including the Golden Boot and Silver Ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Mbappé has been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year four times and is ranked third on the Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
Mbappé announced his decision not to renew his contract with PSG, which was set to expire in June 2024. He reaffirmed his intention to continue at PSG next season, stating that he needed to sign a new contract. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi clarified the club’s stance on Mbappé, and he was excluded from PSG’s preseason tour in Japan. In August, he made his first appearance of the 2023–24 season, scoring his 150th and 151st Ligue 1 goals.
03. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a striker for Barcelona and the Poland national team. He is considered one of the best strikers of all time and has scored over 600 senior career goals. Lewandowski has played for various Polish clubs, including Znicz Pruszków, Lech Poznań, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayern Munich. He has won the Bundesliga title in every season in his eight seasons with Dortmund, and was integral in Bayern’s UEFA Champions League win in 2019-20.
In 2022, he signed with Barcelona, where he won the Supercopa de España, La Liga title, and Pichichi Trophy. Lewandowski is a full international for Poland, having earned 142 caps and participated in the UEFA European Championship, FIFA World Cup, and UEFA European Championship. He has won numerous awards, including the Best FIFA Men’s Player Award and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award. Lewandowski has also won the VDV Bundesliga Player of the Season five times and is the league’s all-time leading foreign goalscorer.
02. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Al Nassr and the Portugal national team. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time, having won five Ballon d’Or awards, three UEFA Best Player in Europe, and four European Golden Shoes. Ronaldo has won 33 trophies in his career, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, the UEFA European Championship, and the UEFA Nations League.
Ronaldo, a renowned footballer, has set numerous records for most appearances, goals, assists, and international goals in the Champions League, European Championship, and international competitions. He began his career with Sporting CP before joining Manchester United in 2003. Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal in 2003 and has earned 200 caps, making him the country’s most-capped player of all time.
Ronaldo, a multi-talented man, has five children. His first child was born in the US in 2010, and he has full custody of the child. He has also had twins born via surrogacy. He is currently in a relationship with Argentine-born Spanish model Georgina Rodríguez, who gave birth to a daughter in 2017. Ronaldo’s father, José, died of an alcoholism-related liver condition at 52. In January 2023, Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia, where he was granted an exception to the rule that unmarried couples cannot live together. Despite the laws still prohibiting cohabitation without a marriage contract, Saudi authorities have begun to stop prosecuting anyone. Ronaldo is of Cape Verdean descent and is a Roman Catholic.
01. Lionel Messi
Lionel Andrés Messi, also known as Leo Messi, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Inter Miami and the Argentina national team. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time, having won seven Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Shoes. Messi spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he won 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and the UEFA Champions League four times.
He has scored over 800 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals by a player for a single club. Messi relocated to Spain from Argentina at 13 and made his competitive debut at 17. He won his first Ballon d’Or in 2008-09 and became the all-time top scorer in La Liga in 2014-15. In 2018, he assumed captaincy of Barcelona and won a record sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019. Messi is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer and holds the national record for appearances.
Messi, a renowned footballer and athlete, has been endorsed by Adidas since 2006. He was the world’s highest-paid footballer for five years and Forbes’ highest-paid athlete. In 2020, he became the second footballer and team-sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings.