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.
Central defender and important figure in his country’s World Cup triumph. A reported summer target for Manchester United.
Klaas-Jan HUNTELAAR – Schalke/Holland/12/08/1983
Prolific centre-forward, ex-Ajax, Milan and Real Madrid, who has an impressive scoring record for Holland, despite not always being first choice.
Khalfan IBRAHIM – Al Sadd/Qatar/18/02/1988
Former Asian footballer of the year, central figure of the Qatari national side and leading domestic figure in the Qatar Super League.
Critics claim he fades in big games but 11 league titles in 13 years with six different clubs in four leagues is matchless.
Mauro ICARDI – Inter/Argentina/19/02/1993
Exciting forward with a troubled personal life. On the fringes of the Argentina squad after leading Serie A scoring charts this season.
Gianelli IMBULA – Marseille/France/12/09/1992
Under-21 midfielder who is being tracked by a number of Premier League clubs. Marseille’s best player this season as they challenge for the title.
Andres INIESTA – Barcelona/Spain/11/05/1984
The World Cup-winning midfielder has struggled this season, failing to score or provide his trademark assists. Under contract to Barca until 2018.
INIGO MARTINEZ – Real Sociedad/Spain/17/05/1991
Central defender who has come through the ranks at Sociedad and is being tipped for a summer move to a Champions League club.
Lorenzo INSIGNE Napol/Italy/04/06/1991
Energetic 5ft 4in forward who takes a decent free-kick. Born and raised in Naples. On the way back after damaging knee ligaments last November.
Takashi INUI – Eintracht Frankfurt/Japan/02/06/1988
Attacking midfielder or playmaker who has taken on an increasingly important role for the national side in the past year.