We have endeavoured to compile a list of the world’s most talked-about players – the most newsworthy players who, by definition, are the most important. We started by drawing up a list of the key players by league – starting with 50 each for the leading leagues in Europe (England, Germany, Spain), 40 for France and Italy, between 15 and 25 for middle-ranking leagues, and ending with between five and 10 for smaller leagues. We then added players who were important figures for their national sides and in their respective regions.
Omar Abdulrahman – Al Ain/UAE
A top class attacking midfielder, Omar Abdulrahman has the talent to become the first West Asian footballer to make his mark on the world stage
Vincent ABOUBAKAR – Porto/Cameroon/22/01/1992
Striker who moved to Portugal this summer. Combines pace and physicality with neat technical ability.
Aritz ADURIZ – Athletic Bilbao/Spain/11/02/1981
Veteran Basque centre-forward in terrific goalscoring form in his third spell in Bilbao, typified by his recent winner against Real Madrid.
Ibrahim AFELLAY – Olympiakos/Holland/02/04/1986
Winger who is rebuilding his career on loan in Greece after a knee injury curtailed his impact at Barcelona.
Sergio AGUERO – Manchester City/Argentina/02/06/1988
Brilliant attacker whose goals have been crucial to City’s Premier League success but who has been troubled by injury.
Igor AKINFEEV – CSKA Moscow/Russia/08/04/1986
Key figure for club and country since breaking through as a teen more than a decade ago. Mistakes at the World Cup were blamed on a laser pointer.
Nasser Al SHAMRANI – Al Hilal/Saudi Arabia/23/11/1983
The 2014 Asian Footballer of the Year, despite being sent off in the AFC Champions League Final for butting and spitting at an opponent.
David ALABA – Bayern/Austria/24/06/1992
Austria’s youngest international and a veteran at 22. Versatile left-back and free-kick maestro who plays in midfield for his country.
Jordi ALBA – Barcelona/Spain/21/03/1989
Attacking left-back with considerable pace and powers of recovery who has been consistently excellent for Barca since switching from Valencia in 2012.
Paco ALCACER – Valencia/Spain/30/03/1993
Striker who has played his way into the senior Spain side since last summer’s World Cup with a spate of goals to help his club’s quest for a European spot.