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.
Midfield playmaker, he was Carlo Ancelotti’s first signing for Madrid and has been a key performer this season in the absence of the injured Luka Modric.
Dhurgam ISMAIL – Al Shorta/Iraq/23/05/1994
Left-back or winger who was one of the most impressive performers at the recent 2015 Asian Cup in Australia and is on Liverpool’s radar.
Ander ITURRASPE – Athletic Bilbao/Spain/08/03/1989
Defensive linchpin and the mainstay of Athletic’s midfield in recent seasons. In Spain’s provisional 2014 World Cup squad but missed the final cut.
Branislav IVANOVIC – Chelsea/Serbia/22/02/1984
Tough defender who scores some important goals for his club from right-back. He can also play in central defence when needed.
JADSON – Corinthians/Brazil/05/10/1983
Little midfielder with a fine range of passing but consistently undervalued in Brazilian football. Recently rejected a big money offer from China.
Christophe JALLET – Lyon/France/31/10/1983
Veteran right-back who is enjoying a new lease of life since moving to Lyon from PSG last summer. He has won seven France caps.
Adnan JANUZAJ – Manchester Utd/Belgium/05/02/1995
Has not featured frequently under Louis Van Gaal but remains United’s – and Belgium’s – most exciting prospect.
JAVI MARTINEZ Bayern/Spain/02/09/1988
Defensive midfielder or centre-back whose versatility is invaluable for club and country. Near to a return from a ligament injury.
Mile JEDINAK – Crystal Palace/Australia/03/08/1984
Sydney-born, fiercely competitive defensive central midfielder. Captain of both his club and Asian champions Australia.
JEFFERSON – Botafogo/Brazil/02/01/1983
Leading the race to succeed Julio Cesar as Brazil’s first-choice keeper, although his club have been relegated to the second division.