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.
Attacking midfielder who made his senior Russia debut aged 18 and impressed at Euro 2012. A central figure for the 2018 World Cup hosts.
Edin DZEKO – Manchester City/Bosnia/17/03/1986
A key figure in Bosnia reaching a first World Cup finals. In and out of the City team but could command a big fee in the summer.
Artyom DZYUBA – Spartak Moscow/Russia/22/08/1988
Tall target man and a regular scorer in the league. Called up last autumn after being left out of the World Cup squad.
Mohamed EL NENNY – Basel/Egypt/11/07/1992
Central midfielder who impressed in Basle’s run to the Champions League knockout stage. Already a key figure for Egypt’s national side.
ELIAS – Corinthians/Brazil/16/05/1985
All-round midfielder who is proficient at bursting beyond the strikers. Now back where he made his name after failing to sparkle in Europe.
Breel EMBOLO – Basel/Switzerland/14/02/1997
One moment a kid with Basle’s juniors, the next a Swiss league and European prodigy, Embolo has certainly been in a hurry in his scramble to the top. Turned down overtures to represent the country of his birthplace, Cameroon, in favour of his adopted homeland Switzerland.
EMERSON ‘SHEIK’ – Corinthians/Brazil/06/09/1978
Capped by Brazil at under-20 level and later played three times for Qatar, even though ineligible. Has been caught biting opponents in the past.
Vincent ENYEAMA – Lille/Nigeria/29/08/1982
National captain and Africa’s leading goalkeeper who has been exceptional behind a tight Lille defence over the past two seasons.
Roman EREMENKO – CSKA/Finland/19/03/1987
Russian-born, but a Finland mainstay for many years. Brother Alexei Jnr is also a Finnish international.
Christian ERIKSEN – Tottenham/Denmark/14/02/1992
Former Ajax star who is the leading Danish player of his generation and Spurs’ most creative influence. A free-kick specialist.