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.

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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.

  1. 1. Introduction
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