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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Pablo ZABALETA – Manchester City/Argentina/16/01/1985

World Cup Finalist and raiding full-back, he’s seen off competition from Bacary Sagna to remain City’s first choice.

Simone ZAZA – Sassuolo/Italy/25/06/1991

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKy1MKl9a1M

Striker whose goals for unfashionable Sassuolo have earned him senior Italy call-ups. He opened his account against Norway in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

Zhang XIZHE – Wolfsburg/China/23/01/1991

Effervescent, skilful and adept at making late runs into the box, the player from the city of Wuhan in the eastern Hubei province is only the 11th Chinese player to join a professional club in Germany.

Zheng ZHI – Guangzhou/China/20/08/1980

Former Charlton and Celtic midfielder who has been a central figure in Guangzhou’s recent success. National team captain.

Ron-Robert ZIELER – Hannover/Germany/12/02/1989

One of the Bundesliga’s leading goalkeepers. Former Manchester United trainee who once played on loan for Northampton Town.

Hakim ZIYECH – Twente/Holland/19/03/1993

Highly rated attacking midfielder of Moroccan descent. Joined Twente last summer from Heerenveen but is coveted by other clubs.  Under-21 international.

Kurt ZOUMA – Chelsea/France/27/10/1994

Powerful France under-21 centre-back who displays great technique. Has been used by Chelsea in recent games as a midfield enforcer.

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