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.
Juan MATA – Manchester Utd/Spain/28/04/1988
Midfielder who has struggled to find a central role under Louis Van Gaal but remains a talented playmaker.
Nemanja MATIC – Chelsea/Serbuia/01/08/1988
By early 2015, a year after he returned to Chelsea, Matic was being hailed as the club’s player of the season, a brilliant midfield enforcer and a leading contender for the end-of-season Footballer of the Year award.
Joel MATIP – Schalke/Cameroon/08/08/1991
Defensive midfielder or centre-back. Born in Germany but has played for Cameroon at the last two World Cup finals.
Blaise MATUIDI – PSG/France/09/08/1987
One of the most consistent midfielders in French football, for both club and country. Joined PSG from Saint-Etienne.
Chancel MBEMBA – Anderlecht/Congo/08/08/1994
Impressed at the African Nations Cup. Confusion surrounds his date of birth, which is officially listed as August 1994.
Alexander MEIER – Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany/17/01/1983
Veteran forward who is enjoying his 11th and best season for Eintracht, leading the Bundesliga scoring charts.
Edison MENDEZ – El Nacional/Ecuador/16/03/1979
The only man to take part in all three of Ecuador’s World Cup campaigns, a versatile midfielder with a rocket shot now winding down his career back home.
Jeremy MENEZ – Milan/France/07/05/1987
Attacking midfielder who is thriving back in Serie A after three seasons with PSG, during which he drifted out of the national side.
Bernard MENSAH – Guimaraes/Ghana/17/10/1994
Ghanaian goalscoring midfielder with a big future. An important figure in the rise of Vitoria in Portugal this season.
Dries MERTENS – Napoli/Belgium/06/05/1987
Fast, clever winger who creates and scores. Rejected by Anderlecht for being too small, he starred in Holland with PSV and has continued to impress in Italy.