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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Michael BRADLEY – Toronto/USA/31/07/1987

Combative midfielder and one of the big earners in Toronto, whose offer lured him back from Serie A. Son of former USA national coach Bob.

Yacine BRAHIMI – Porto/Algeria/08/02/1990

Winger tipped for stardom. Played for France at youth level before switching to Algeria and was superb in their run to the World Cup last eight.

Gigi Italy Soccer Serie A – Juventus/Italy/28/01/1978

Italy’s most-capped player shows no sign of slowing down despite recently racking up 500 appearances for the Serie A champions Juve.

BURAK Yilmaz – Galatasaray/Turkey/15/07/1985

Began his career in midfield but became a bullish striker for club and country, a regular Champions League scorer and often linked with a move abroad.

Sergio BUSQUETS – Barcelona/Spain/16/07/1988

Tactically astute defensive midfielder and the linchpin of the Barcelona engine room. Son of former Barca goalkeeper Carles Busquets.

Tim CAHILL – Shanghai/Australia/06/12/1979

Veteran goalscoring midfielder who recently made the pioneering switch to China after three seasons with New York Red Bulls.

Hakan CALHANOGLU – Leverkusen/Turkey/08/02/1994

Attacking midfielder who is living up to his £11m valuation. Born in Germany but has played for Turkey at all levels.

Jose CALLEJON – Napoli/Spain/11/02/1987

Forward who has thrived in Italy after arriving in 2013 from Real Madrid where his chances were limited. Has featured in Spain’s post-World Cup squad.

Ignacio CAMACHO – Malaga/Spain/04/05/1990

Defensive midfielder who has broken into the Spain squad this season and been linked with a move to a Champions League club.

Emre CAN – Liverpool/Germany/12/01/1994

Versatile midfielder whose switch to defence has coincided with Liverpool’s upsurge in form. German-born of Turkish heritage.

  1. 1. Introduction
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