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.
Winger who is on loan at Goodison Park from Chelsea. Was in outstanding form as Ghana reached the African Nations Cup Final in February.
Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG – Dortmund/Gabon/18/06/1989
Striker or wide attacker, one of African football’s leading forwards. Has found his feet at Dortmund this season.
Serge AURIER – PSG/Ivory Coast/24/12/1992
Attacking right-back for the African champions. His loan from Toulouse is seen as a bid by PSG to get round Financial Fairplay regulations.
Irwin AVILA – Sporting Cristal/Peru/02/07/1990
Nippy little striker who played a major part in his club’s league titles of 2012 and 2014. The jury is still out on whether he can tip the balance for his country.
Andre AYEW – Marseille/Ghana/17/12/1989
Leading striker for club and country who led Ghana to the 2015 African Nations Cup Final. The son of legendary Ghana forward Abedi Pele.
Sardar AZMOUN – Rubin Kazan/ Iran/1/1/1995
Iran’s young player of the year, making waves in the Russian league, and who impressed at the recent Asian Cup. On loan from Rubin Kazan.
Cesar AZPILICUETA – Chelsea/Spain/28/08/1989
Versatile defender who displaced Ashley Cole as Chelsea’s first-choice left-back. Has represented his country from under-16 upwards.
Demba BA – Besiktas/Senegal/25/05/1985
French-born Senegalese striker who is enjoying a prolific first season in Turkey after being sold by Chelsea last summer.
Abdul Rahman BABA – Augsburg/Ghana/02/07/1994
Whether bursting forward on the overlap, putting in good quality crosses, biting into the tackle, or providing cover and maintaining tactical discipline, the 20-year-old from the northern Ghanaian city of Tamale does a fine job in all areas.
Carlos BACCA – Sevilla/Colombia/08/09/1986
Striker on song for Sevilla. Late starter who worked as a bus conductor and sold fish before Colombian top-flight debut at 23.