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.
Yoshinori MUTO – Tokyo/Japan/15/07/1992
Goalscoring midfielder who is one of the brightest prospects in the J.League and has now established himself in the Japanese national side.
Radja NAINGGOLAN – Roma/Belgium/04/05/1988
Usually the first over the barricades and the last man standing, Roma’s all-action midfield warrior Radja Nainggolan has never been one to go about his business unobtrusively. Seeking the shadows or hoping for a quiet life is just not his way.
NALDO – Wolfsburg/Brazil10/09/1982
Giant centre-back who has been a towering figure in Wolfsburg’s recent progress in the Bundesliga and their push for Champions League football.
NANI – Sporting/Portugal/17/11/1986
Proof of how a step backwards can boost a career. Superb since returning to his first club on loan from Manchester United.
Samir NASRI – Manchester City/France/26/06/1987
Frozen out by France and has drifted in and out at City this season. But his talent (and ego) will see him return at some stage.
Jesus NAVAS – Manchester City/Spain/21/11/1985
The right-winger has dropped out of contention for the Spanish national team but remains a key figure for City.
Firmin NDOMBE MUBELE – Vita/DR Congo/17/04/1992
CAF’s current Africa-based player of the year. A move to North Africa or Francophone Europe is on the cards for the quick striker.
Manuel NEUER – Bayern/Germany27/03/1986
Outstanding, dominant figure for club and country. Sweeper-keeper with brilliant reflexes and shot-stopping skills.
NEYMAR – Barcelona/Brazil/05/02/1992
Has already made 300 appearances for Santos and Barcelona. Named Brazil captain by Dunga after the 2014 World Cup humiliation.
Saul NIGUEZ – Atletico Madrid/Spain/21/11/1994
Under-21 midfielder who has impressed deputising for Koke at Atletico this season after returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano.