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.

TAGS:
Daniel BAIER – Augsburg/Germany/18/05/1984

Stocky midfielder who has been crucial to Augburg’s survival and subsequent progress in the Bundesliga. A former under-21 international.

Gareth BALE – Real Madrid/Wales/16/07/1989

Capped his first season in Madrid with a goal in the Champions League Final, but the target of angry fans this term for poor performances.

Mario BALOTELLI – Liverpool/Italy/12/08/1990

Mario Balotelli

Eternally troublesome striker whose off-pitch antics have detracted from his footballing abilities. A move back to Italy in the summer looks in the offing.

Ross BARKLEY – Everton/England/5/12/1993

One of the great white hopes of English football. The midfielder has come through the Everton ranks but may have to move clubs to fulfil his potential.

Augusto BATALLA – River Plate/Argentina/30/04/1996

Highly-rated keeper who starred at the South American Under-20s. Linked with a move to Real Madrid as Iker Casillas’ long- term replacement.

Claudio BEAUVUE – Guingamp/France/16/04/1988

Late-developing Guadaloupe-born midfielder turned forward who scored 11 goals in a run of 15 games earlier this season.

Karim BELLARABI – Leverkusen/Germany/08/04/1990

Winger who scored the Bundesliga’s fastest-ever goal after nine seconds against Dortmund last August. Called up by Germany in October.

Mehdi BENATIA – Bayern/Morocco/17/04/1987

Central defender and  one of the most wanted in last summer’s transfer market but has yet to match his Roma form.

Lars BENDER – Leverkusen/Germany/27/04/1989

Hard-working, tactically astute midfielder or right-back, missed the 2014 World Cup through injury. Twin of Dortmund’s Sven.

Dario BENEDETTO – America/Argentina/17/05/1990

Forward whose transfer from Tijuana to champions America was the biggest domestic story of
the winter in Mexico.

  1. 1. Introduction
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