Over the past twelve months, we’ve witnessed some incredible football, some great games and some phenomenal players do what they do best. Here is the first half of my top 20 footballers of 2017.
20. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool & Brazil)
The frequent brilliance that the 25=year-old produces left nobody surprised when Barcelona came knocking to try lure Coutinho to the Camp Nou as a replacement for Neymar. Has buckets more of brilliance to give.
19. Isco (Real Madrid & Spain)
From an uncertain future and being linked with doezens of other clubs to being virtually undroppable by Zinedine Zidane, Isco has become one of the heavyweight players in a star-studded Real Madrid team. Will do even better in 2018 I reckon.
18. Harry Kane (Tottenham & England)
A traditional English centre forward who is a goal scoring machine, Kane’s has an eye for goal that most strikers around the globe would envy. Tottenham would be doing well to hold on to him over the next year or two – it’s only a matter of time before the big guns come will be calling.
17. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)
The solid centre-half is one of – if not the – best players of his position in world football. Ramos has proved that, at 31, he can take on whatever is thrown in front of him. Expect nothing but more brilliance from the Spaniard over the next 12 months too.
16. Edinson Cavani (PSG & Uruguay)
The 30-year-old has been a colossal figure for every club he’s turned out for. He lived somewhat in Ibrahimovic’s shadow during the Swede’s tenure in the French capital, but since his move to England, Cavani has become a one of Ligue 1’s biggest stars with goalscoring stats that most manager’s would kill for.
15. Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan & Argentina)
The 24-year-old Inter captain makes just as much headlines off the pitch as he does on it, there’s no denying his phenomenal performances in Serie A. His form for the Nerezzurri has earned him his place back in the Argentina set-up after a three year absence. He won’t be at Inter forever and giants Real Madrid have reportedly taken notice.
14. Luis Suarez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
Maybe twelve months ago, Suarez would have slotted into this list’s top five and with considerable ease, but his brilliance, despite a slightly inconsistent 2017 for his usual high standards, earns him into the top 20. When on full form, he is probably one of the deadliest strikers on the planet. He has it in him, and will be willing to show it again at next summer’s World Cup – make no mistake.
13. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
The word legend is thrown around a lot in modern football, but this man epitomizes it’s very definition. Having recently retired from his national team, Buffon, who will be 40 next month, is still consistently one of the best goalkeepers – and indeed one of the best players – in the world. Enjoyed his 10th Scudetto with Juve last May.
12. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund & Gabon)
If anybody was going to overtake the great Robert Lewandowski at the top of the goalscoring charts in the Bundesliga, it’s Aubameyang. And he achieved just that last season. Something of a late-bloomer, the Gabonese striker is now 28 and over the next 12 months will be a favourite to improve his records and statistics even more – if Dortmund can hold onto him.
11. N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea & France)
The 26-year-old midfielder is the first player to win back-to-back titles with two different clubs since his fellow countryman Eric Cantona achieved this feat back in 1992 and 1993. At Leicester, he was instrumental in their unbelievable and historic Premier League win. Since moving to Chelsea, he has been exhibiting the technical class that most of his peers can only dream of.
Keep an eye out for the part two of this list, where I’ll be giving my top 10 players of the past twelve months.
Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)