Who are world class players?

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What is world class, and how many of them are there? Is the criteria subjective opinion, based on coaches', agents', mothers', fathers', and fans' hype (or love)?
I'd say a lot of players in those lists could be legitimately classed as 'world class'. I think useful criteria is match winner in important matches.

I'm asking this because @Mylock name-dropped None of Ndidi, Rice, Bissouma as 'world class' in the James Garner performances thread and a lot of people agree with him/her.




@Mylock obviously has a massive following, and his/her opinion is valued; because I got a ton of critics bemoaning my doubt. None of Ndidi, Rice, Bissouma have won anything much and none are regularly MotM for their teams.
Bit of a strange thread. You got four replies and WC is totally subjective.

Where are the ton of critics?
 

Blackwidow

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If I look at my Bayern team it is the central axis - Neuer, Kimmich, Müller and Lewandowski - who I would put in as world class players without any doubts. Would they walk in any team? Has to do a lot with the set up of that team but they were essential in their years at a European top 5 club and in their national teams over years - already starting with young age. Not just in national competitions but at international competitions, too - even if Neuer and Müller for sure have achieved more in that respect than Kimmich could do it because of his age and Lewy could do it because of his nationality.

What all of them have in common are not just stats but a special mentality, they bring a high workrate even in not position specific characteristics when needed and influence/lead/push the team positively. For me world class does not only have to do with individual skills like speed or dribbling or stats.

In my eyes an individualist without big team skills (e.g. and offensive that does not work defensively) can just be world class when he really is over the odds great with the numbers he can put in.
 

11101

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They should be in the top handful of players in their position in the world, and you should be able to select any of them without a noticeable drop in quality (excluding the freaks like Messi).

For example Bruno is a world class creator because of his contribution to the team. KDB is world class because he could come into the same team and do that job just as well, even if a little differently. Merely good players like Havertz or Ziyech could not.
 

RobinLFC

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There's no set limit of "world class players" and I wouldn't say there's any trophies you have to win. Maybe just someone who you can tell is just an elite player, scares the shit out of opponents, wouldn't look out of place in any top team (ignore occasional stacked positions), doesnt really have any big or annoying weaknesses (or their strengths more than outweigh, like how de Gea in the past was that good of a shot stopper that nobody cared about any weaker parts), etc.. Players that both pass the eye test for 90% of people but also back it up with stats and accomplishments. Sometimes you'll have loads of world class players in one position and none in another. It is what it is.

From the premier league, I'd say:
  • De Bruyne
  • Kane
  • Kante
  • Salah
  • Van Dijk
  • Bruno
  • Pogba
  • Alisson
Dias and Shaw will be there if they basically repeat this seasons level (or £$ they have a great euros and go the distance, I'd probably rank them there). Grealish based on the first half of the season would be close but needs to maintain it to be there IMO. As of now hasn't achieved enough but talent wise he has it. Thiago was there at Bayern, but he didn't have a good season at all so can't call him that anymore.
Not trying to shit on Shaw or anything since he was great this season, but I think it's weird that you say Shaw could be WC if he repeats this season's form next season, yet Robertson has been better than that for the 2-3 seasons before this one and isn't even in the conversation then? I'd currently consider him and Davies the only WC LBs in the world with a few of them (Shaw, amonst others) being a tier below that.

Also you say Lukaku is a brilliant goalscorer but not a WC player, but he fits your first paragraph perfectly - his strength more than outweighs his weaknesses in the right team or set-up. I'm by no means a Lukaku fan (actually quite the contrary) but it's getting really hard to look past his goalscoring record for Belgium and Inter the last few years.

Probably agree with most of the names you mentioned though, but don't really watch enough football anymore to have a good grip on how some players in foreign leagues have performed last season(s). For example though, Courtois was miles better than Alisson this seasond (and maybe even a better all around GK too, has won a lot more as well) but isn't included. Hard to compare across leagues and teams sometimes, but there are loads of players you could make an argument for I'd guess.
 

OleBoiii

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It will always be wildly subjective. Some people think that if you're the best or second best player in your position in a given year, then you're world class. But this also means that there are more than 20 world class players at all times, which some might find a bit extreme. Also, what if a certain position is particularly weak one season?

And then you have people who are ridiculously strict in their definition of 'world class'. I love Fergie but when he says that he only had 4 world class players in his entire career(Cantona, Scholes, Giggs and Ronaldo for those wondering), then he's being overly harsh, imo.
 

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Those three are 100% not world class. I think Ndidi is the one who could get to that level but he really needs to be playing CL football.

Leicester actually have a lot of players who are not world class but I think could be in/close to that bracket in the future with the right move (Tielemans, Fofana, Barnes, Maddison, Ndidi).
none of those will ever be regarded world class by the football community. Tielemans has been around for ages and Maddison barely even gets England games
 

RobinLFC

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none of those will ever be regarded world class by the football community. Tielemans has been around for ages and Maddison barely even gets England games
What kind of argument is that? Grealish was playing in the Championship when he was Tielemans' age. He's been a regular in the Belgium squad for a while and if he isn't going to a top club this offseason, it's more than likely it will be next summer. I'd actually say it's very realistic that Tielemans will be regarded world class in the not so distant future.
 

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What kind of argument is that? Grealish was playing in the Championship when he was Tielemans' age. He's been a regular in the Belgium squad for a while and if he isn't going to a top club this offseason, it's more than likely it will be next summer. I'd actually say it's very realistic that Tielemans will be regarded world class in the not so distant future.
Tielemans has over 358 first team club games under his belt which is more than Grealish has. He has also played 40 times for his country so nearly 400 matches as a senior pro. that's more than Rashford Martial and the same as Bruno Fernandes. He is very seasoned and is where is meant to be. Its not age that gives you the most experience but games. If he hasn't' developed into world class player after 400 odd matches then its unlikely. You never know though
 

RobinLFC

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Tielemans has over 358 first team club games under his belt which is more than Grealish has. He has also played 40 times for his country so nearly 400 matches as a senior pro. that's more than Rashford Martial and the same as Bruno Fernandes. He is very seasoned and is where is meant to be. Its not age that gives you the most experience but games. If he hasn't' developed into world class player after 400 odd matches then its unlikely. You never know though
Think this is where we disagree on then. He took an intermediate step to Leicester instead of immediately going to a top club, which is what he's on the verge of doing now imo and I think we'll see him excel even more than he already does for them now. It's also a lot harder to stand out as a WC player in a good, not great team than in a team like Liverpool or City imo.
 

Murder on Zidane's Floor

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Mbappe
Messi
Lewandowski
Kane
Salah
De Bruyne
Kante
Ronaldo
Van Dijk
Oblak
Allison
Benzema
Kimmich
Marquinos
Fernandes

Probably forgotten a couple but that's the list in my opinion. That's it. The rest are all top players.

World Class should be no more than fifteen players, twenty at the max. A* Grade

Then you have top, top players. Who make up the thirty or so beneath them. Think Pogba, Halaand, Lukaku, Dias, Mane, Son, Goretzka, Sancho, TAA etc. A Grade

Then you have very good players. Grealish, Mount, Ndidi, Tielmans, Koke, De Jong, Barella, Verratti, Rice etc. B+ Grade

Then you have good players and players. C grade and below.

A* = Does it week in, week out, if you lose this player, you cannot find better in their position without selecting from the same list, players that dominate assist and goal charts every year etc. Losing them has a big effect on the success of the team and you cannot replace them.
A = Regularly has great performances, contributes heavily to the success of the team, the difference to the above is that they can be replaced/their loss is (while still big) not as big a loss as losing a player from the above grade.
B+ = Really great performers, solid but don't also turn up, you can replace these players, and losing them isn't as detrimental. (If WHU lose Rice but buy Bissouma, they won't see - if any - drop off in midfield performances).
C = These are good players but are your rotational players who do a solid job, think Danny Ings, Soucek, Zinchenko, Christiansen, Lacazette etc.

C are not bad players, nor are they average players, they are just above average and can move up to lower B grade with consistent performances etc.
 

tomaldinho1

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none of those will ever be regarded world class by the football community. Tielemans has been around for ages and Maddison barely even gets England games
Ok so Tielemans goes to Real Madrid and wins loads, you don’t think that’s change people’s perception of him?
Or if Ndidi came to United and we started winning things again, you don’t think people would start to say he’s a world class DM?
 

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Ok so Tielemans goes to Real Madrid and wins loads, you don’t think that’s change people’s perception of him?
Or if Ndidi came to United and we started winning things again, you don’t think people would start to say he’s a world class DM?
Nah. They would have to stand out and play at a level that others in their position around the world would be envious of. Plenty OKish players win silverware. Unless they can be like Kante and be a driving force behind a top winning side then its unlikely but what do I know? You just never know.
 

Bebestation

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There definitely is more than 15 world class players.

Just as a pure example peps Barcelona team had a world class player in nearly every position - does that mean there is no world class players else where?

During that time for every Busquets there was a Xabi Alonso. Barcelona sold eto’o and bought zlatan. They faced a United team with world class CB’s and a front line that included some world class players.


If there were only such low amount of world class players then I don’t think International football would exist as it would be too boring.

You get to see world class players in Uruguay, in Croatia, in Wales or Scotland just as you would find some in France or Germany.
 

tomaldinho1

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Nah. They would have to stand out and play at a level that others in their position around the world would be envious of. Plenty OKish players win silverware. Unless they can be like Kante and be a driving force behind a top winning side then its unlikely but what do I know? You just never know.
What do any of us know!? :lol:

For me it’s if they’re amongst the best in their position in the world. People will debate this until the end of time.
 

Lux Thunder

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For me, a world-class player is not my favorite term but of course, it is down to players' ability and even more to consistency to perform among that abilities more often. That is what makes players like Mbappe and Haaland the most valuable assets: they hit the top level of consistency at a young age.

But what turn players with very good ability to be so-called "world-class" and to perform consistently are the matter of collective efficacy in the football club where all players, manager and members of the coaching staff are motivated to work together with a clear mission and vision to reach their goals. On the other side, players individually, apart from their football ability, must have a high level of self-motivation, ambition and determination to succeed.

For example, many would argue that Robertson and TAA are/were world-class full-backs in the last couple of years, but no one could predict that two would be that good before they got involved in Klopp's system where they were offered time and space to play to their best abilities consistently. The same goes for KDB in City or Kante, who flourish under Conte and Tuchel and was more efficient in their systems than he was under Sarri.
 

Bondi77

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Yeah, it's just a useless term. Everyone has their own definition, some go with top 2 players in their position, some go with "will he make the squad if team Earth takes on team Mars".
Top 2 or 3 in their position in the World is normally the way I go.
In recent times I could only really put De Gea up in that category from Utd, possibly Bruno initially but he has tapered off now.
 

Stacks

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There definitely is more than 15 world class players.

Just as a pure example peps Barcelona team had a world class player in nearly every position - does that mean there is no world class players else where?

During that time for every Busquets there was a Xabi Alonso. Barcelona sold eto’o and bought zlatan. They faced a United team with world class CB’s and a front line that included some world class players.


If there were only such low amount of world class players then I don’t think International football would exist as it would be too boring.

You get to see world class players in Uruguay, in Croatia, in Wales or Scotland just as you would find some in France or Germany.
I agree. I think it has to include players who are interchangeable in a hypothetical All-star team/squad. So you can have players from Real or Barca or Bayern or Utd. There shouldn't be a huge ability gap between the players in each position nor should their inclusion cause contention.
 

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Players who come straight to mind would be those who are no longer playing. Such as:
Platini, Eusebio, Zidane, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Netzer + a load of Brazilian players.
Amongst current players I personally find it more difficult to evaluate a player as world class:
The criteria must be key player for both club and country and a winner of big competions for their respective clubs.
These come to mind:
Pogba, Kante, Kane (exception to the rule), DeBruyne, Neymar, Mbappe, Lewandowski, Kimmich, Dias, Varane
 

acnumber9

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Do you know what world class means? It means they start for every team in the world. None of our players are world class. Maybe Pogba at a push, but he’s not consistent enough for me. Maguire, Shaw, Bruno & Rashford are miles off being world class.
So there can only be one world class keeper or striker? Do you know that ‘world class’ is a phrase with no set definition and lots of people apply it differently and nobody is right or wrong?
 

Theonas

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According to Sir Alex, the WC players he had with us were Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs and Cantona. If we go by that definition, then there really is no more than a handful of WC players in every generation.
 

bosnian_red

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Not trying to shit on Shaw or anything since he was great this season, but I think it's weird that you say Shaw could be WC if he repeats this season's form next season, yet Robertson has been better than that for the 2-3 seasons before this one and isn't even in the conversation then? I'd currently consider him and Davies the only WC LBs in the world with a few of them (Shaw, amonst others) being a tier below that.

Also you say Lukaku is a brilliant goalscorer but not a WC player, but he fits your first paragraph perfectly - his strength more than outweighs his weaknesses in the right team or set-up. I'm by no means a Lukaku fan (actually quite the contrary) but it's getting really hard to look past his goalscoring record for Belgium and Inter the last few years.

Probably agree with most of the names you mentioned though, but don't really watch enough football anymore to have a good grip on how some players in foreign leagues have performed last season(s). For example though, Courtois was miles better than Alisson this seasond (and maybe even a better all around GK too, has won a lot more as well) but isn't included. Hard to compare across leagues and teams sometimes, but there are loads of players you could make an argument for I'd guess.
Forgot Courtois. Lukaku just can't be world class as his weakness with his technique ultimately doesn't outweigh his pros. In big games Lukaku has always been brutal and has remained to be poor in big games for Inter. He can be the tier below as a striker, but not world class. I would never place Mario Gomez as world class even when he was scoring 40+ per season, same thing now.

Yeah I thought about putting Robertson. He's in the conversation, and like you said the last 2 seasons you can say it's fair to have him there. I guess part of me wonders how much of it is Klopp and how much of it is the individual, and I guess that's why I listed Sancho as a maybe but not in the list. Sometimes certain coaches with their systems get a world class level out of certain players/positions if they just fit a few characteristics. TAA for example last year was at a level of talent higher than Robertson IMO, so I'm not sure if Robertson can ever be world class for me while TAA could... maybe I just haven't paid enough attention though and I'm being biased.

But like, Maguire as an example is someone who I think is an excellent defender, but can never be world class due to the statue-esque nature of his game. He lifts everyone around him and makes a huge difference for us, but I'm ok with having him on the tier below and capping out there. Carrick previously just wasn't world class, but he was a very good holding midfielder, had brilliant seasons, won it all for United... Can't have him world class. Same with Gary Neville.

I guess I can add to the definition that for me, a world class player is also pretty much never just a support piece, but a focal piece to the team. Robertson was key to Liverpool, but when I think world class full backs, I think Roberto Carlos, Dani Alves, Ashley Cole, Evra, Zanetti, etc. Jordi Alba has years of dominance at left back for club and country. Davies has been incredible for Bayern. Is Robertson in that class? Fair enough if he is, guess I just haven't seen him stand out as a world class player but more in the tier below.
 
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Paul_Scholes18

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According to Sir Alex, the WC players he had with us were Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs and Cantona. If we go by that definition, then there really is no more than a handful of WC players in every generation.
I think SAF might talk about unique talent in attack or things like that. A special sort of player. Those 4 certainly had that special talent.

It is strange he do not consider one keeper or defender he worked with as world class.

Even these players apart from Ronaldo mainly performed under his mangement at the highest level. It can thus be hard to judge if they would be the same under other managers/clubs/systems etc. One could argue a world class player should be able to adapt and not just perform when there is world class around them. Not wanting to turn this into Messi vs Ronaldo, but Ronaldo have shown the ability to adapt more for sure.
 

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A lot of very low standards for 'world class'. Makes it a low value term.
 

RobinLFC

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Forgot Courtois. Lukaku just can't be world class as his weakness with his technique ultimately doesn't outweigh his pros. In big games Lukaku has always been brutal and has remained to be poor in big games for Inter. He can be the tier below as a striker, but not world class. I would never place Mario Gomez as world class even when he was scoring 40+ per season, same thing now.

Yeah I thought about putting Robertson. He's in the conversation, and like you said the last 2 seasons you can say it's fair to have him there. I guess part of me wonders how much of it is Klopp and how much of it is the individual, and I guess that's why I listed Sancho as a maybe but not in the list. Sometimes certain coaches with their systems get a world class level out of certain players/positions if they just fit a few characteristics. TAA for example last year was at a level of talent higher than Robertson IMO, so I'm not sure if Robertson can ever be world class for me while TAA could... maybe I just haven't paid enough attention though and I'm being biased.

But like, Maguire as an example is someone who I think is an excellent defender, but can never be world class due to the statue-esque nature of his game. He lifts everyone around him and makes a huge difference for us, but I'm ok with having him on the tier below and capping out there. Carrick previously just wasn't world class, but he was a very good holding midfielder, had brilliant seasons, won it all for United... Can't have him world class. Same with Gary Neville.

I guess I can add to the definition that for me, a world class player is also pretty much never just a support piece, but a focal piece to the team. Robertson was key to Liverpool, but when I think world class full backs, I think Roberto Carlos, Dani Alves, Ashley Cole, Evra, Zanetti, etc. Jordi Alba has years of dominance at left back for club and country. Davies has been incredible for Bayern. Is Robertson in that class? Fair enough if he is, guess I just haven't seen him stand out as a world class player but more in the tier below.
All fair points. I certainly wouldn't put Robertson in the same category as the likes of Zanetti, Cafu, Dani Alves, Roberto Carlos, Maldini as far as fullbacks go so if that's the standard, then there are currently no world class LBs imo.
 

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Bit of a strange thread. You got four replies and WC is totally subjective.

Where are the ton of critics?
Over in the Youth forum in the James Garner performances thread. Their point seems to be WC is totally subjective so anyone can be included. I think there's limited number of players who will make it into a top world squad of, say 25. Messi, for example, would be everyone's choice, so I don't think WC is in the least bit subjective.
 

Lynty

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World Class is being in conversation for the top 3 player in your position worldwide.

Ndidi, Rice and Bissouma are certainly not World Class

In the event of an intergalactic World Cup, they wouldn't be chosen to represent Earths squad :lol:
 

Gehrman

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I'd probably say that you have to be among the best in your position in and you would have to be on par with those who were the best in their positions in any era. For instance Lukkaku is probably among the top 5 strikers in the world atm, but I don't think his overall ability is world class. We have a lack of strikers in their prime so Lukkaku is high on the list atm, but he wouldn't have been when Suarez, Rooney, RVP, Augero etc were all in their prime. Players like Messi or Ronaldo in their prime were above world class.
 

Lynty

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Over in the Youth forum in the James Garner performances thread. Their point seems to be WC is totally subjective so anyone can be included. I think there's limited number of players who will make it into a top world squad of, say 25. Messi, for example, would be everyone's choice, so I don't think WC is in the least bit subjective.

Strikers:
Lewa
Kane
Ronaldo

RW/Attack:

Messi
Salah
Sancho

LW/Attack:
Mbappe
Neymar
Mane

AM/10:
De Bruyne
Bruno
Muller

CM:
Kroos
Gundogan
Pogba

DM:
Kimmich
Kante
Casemiro

LB:
Davies
Shaw
Theo Hernandez

CB:
van Dijk
Dias
Marquinhos
Maguire
Laporte
Skriniar

RB:
Cancelo
Hakimi
Walker

Top 3 in each position in my opinion. You could probably include the players who could make a fair argument to be included:

Haaland
Grealish
Benzema
Verratti
Alex-Arnold
few others

Rice and Bissouma wouldn't even be up for discussion subjective or not.
 

bosnian_red

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All fair points. I certainly wouldn't put Robertson in the same category as the likes of Zanetti, Cafu, Dani Alves, Roberto Carlos, Maldini as far as fullbacks go so if that's the standard, then there are currently no world class LBs imo.
Not that it's the standard, those are obviously some of the best of all time. Evra and Ashley Cole are a cut below some of those for example, Denis Irwin as well. I probably just don't watch Robertson to know if he excels as much as those did. Maybe some players don't have the natural talent or complete game of a typical all round player but really knock it out of the park with consistent excellence, and maybe Robertson fits that criteria. With Shaw for example, I think he can get there, but really needs to almost have an even better season than this one and just keep it on for a while. He has a brilliant all round game in that he can be dominant on the ball and off it, attacking and defensively and when he's on it so much of our game just runs through him, not because of play style but because his talent demands it. That's kinda the impression I got with TAA vs Robertson. TAA demanded the ball because of talent and impact on it, Robertson got it because of play style.
 

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Over in the Youth forum in the James Garner performances thread. Their point seems to be WC is totally subjective so anyone can be included. I think there's limited number of players who will make it into a top world squad of, say 25. Messi, for example, would be everyone's choice, so I don't think WC is in the least bit subjective.

I was joking because you said ton but I counted four replies.

I do think World Class is subjective though. There is no accepted definition. You just throwing out 25 there arbitrarily kind of proves it.
 

Bebestation

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A world class player who isn’t an automatic starter for Portugal? Erm, ok.
Benzema was world class without being picked for France for nearly how long?

Scholes is another who hardly got picked by his national team.

Eric cantona is another who had a inconsistent time with France.
 

Schmeichel's Cartwheel

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Benzema was world class without being picked for France for nearly how long?

Scholes is another who hardly got picked by his national team.

Eric cantona is another who had a inconsistent time with France.
Benzema & Cantona were left out for political/disciplinary reasons. Scholes was a regular for England until he retired in 2004. Bruno is in the squad but in & out of the starting 11. If he was world class surely he’d be an automatic starter?
 

eire-red

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In my opinion, a world-class player is a player who is in the best 10 players in their position in the world. I believe Rice and Ndidi would be in consideration for the top 10 players in their position, I would place them in that category. Bosummo and Manuel Locatelli have the potential to be in that category.
I would be happy with any of these players as our DM, to provide the base for the team to grow. Just because a player hasn't won anything doesn't rule them out as world-class in my book,
Harry Kane or Alan Shearer are good examples of world-class players who haven't won much but are rated as WC, everyone's opinions differ.
Do you think top 10 is perhaps a bit broad? Can you really think of 10 world class goalies? What about left backs, for example.

Let's say Davies, Robertson and Shaw are up there. I can't think of 7 others who fall into the world class category. Maybe they fall into the bracket of top quality, which is still a notch below world class for me.

I would say top 5 in each position, or like even players who would make a 30 man World XI squad.
 

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Luka Modric is proper world class 36 and still bossing midfields at the highest level with pure skill and technique.
 

FatTails

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It’s just a meaningless and entirely subjective term.

Here is my subjective and made up take: Discussing if someone is world class is the third most boring football argument that people love to engage in; only behind comparing player x from the 1960s with player y from the 90s, and the most boring by far, if a player is a “legend”
 

simplyared

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Do you know what world class means? It means they start for every team in the world. None of our players are world class. Maybe Pogba at a push, but he’s not consistent enough for me. Maguire, Shaw, Bruno & Rashford are miles off being world class.
Reckon that's a pretty good description. I'd go a bit further though and say Pogba IS world class.