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.

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FERNANDINHO – Manchester City/Brazil/04/05/1985

Defensive midfielder who suffered World Cup humiliation but is still in the squad.

Yannick FERREIRA CARRASCO – Monaco/Belgium/04/09/1993

In his third season in the Monegasque pro ranks, the winger has been one of the most exhilarating attackers in Ligue 1, Although a little too individualistic at times, he has the speed, inventiveness, audacity and shooting power to trouble the best defences. He can run all day, and while happiest cutting in from the left is effective on the right, too.

Roberto FIRMINO – Hoffenheim/Brazil/02/10/1991

Goalscoring midfielder who has played his way into the Brazil national side this season. Moved to Germany as a teenager.

FRED – Fluminense/Brazil/03/10/1983

Fred penalty Brazil Croatia

Centre-forward seen by some as one of the chief villains of Brazil’s World Cup campaign, he hit back to be top scorer in last year’s national championship.

Manolo GABBIADINI – Napoli/Italy/26/11/1991

Free-kick specialist signed from Sampdoria in January. Prolific scorer for Italy’s under-21s. Sister Melania is a women’s international.

GABI – Atletico Madrid/Spain/10/07/1983

The unsung hero of Atletico’s recent success, he’s the club captain and midfield linchpin. Madrid-born, in his second spell at the club.

Nico GAITAN – Benfica/Argentina/23/02/1988

Highly accomplished midfielder, Benfica’s chief creative force and coveted by wealthier clubs. Recently recalled by Argentina.

Paulo Henrique GANSO – Sao Paulo/Brazil/12/10/1989

Playmaker once seen as the great hope of Brazilian football. Still has moments of pure class, but lacking in dynamism.

Sergio GARCIA – Espanyol/Spain/09/06/1983

Forward or wide attacker whose goals have carried Espanyol this season. Former Barcelona trainee who has represented Spain at all levels.

Shkelzen GASHI – Basel/Albania/15/07/1988

Swiss-born and capped at youth level until switching to Albania. Top scorer in the Swiss league last season.

  1. 1. Introduction
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