ESPN FC 100 2023 Haaland Mbappe lead best men soccer players

We are back! After a brief hiatus due to the Winter World Cup in Qatar, ESPN presents its seventh annual Ranking of World Soccer’s Best Players and Coaches! Welcome to FC 100.

The FC 100 is different because we really consider all 11 positions on the pitch; Most countdowns put talent first, regardless of where the stars are playing. The bottom line is an uninspiring list that focuses heavily on goalscorers (forwards) and players who score in midfield, and pays little attention to talent in less glamorous areas of the pitch.

Our rankings give each position its due weight, providing readers with what comes closest to a position-by-position “depth chart” of all world football.


Go to: Goalkeeper | Right-Back | Center Back | Left Back | Central Midfield | Attacking Midfield | Winger | Forward | striker | Manager

Previous Editions: 2021-22 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

ESPN FC Women’s Ranking: 2022



Why there are no USMNT players on the ESPN FC 100 list

Herc Gomez explains why it’s not surprising that no USMNT or Mexico national team players have made the ESPN FC 100 list.

Main takeaways

  • We have a fresh, redesigned list with seven new #1s across the 10 categories. Only Ruben Dias (CB), Achraf Hakimi (RB) and Kevin De Bruyne (AM) retained their places from the 2021 year-end standings. This reflects the generational shift from the Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo era to the era of new stars.

  • Speaking of Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s not the first time he’s made the list since we started this annual ranking in 2016. Our global panel considered his bitter departure from Man United, poor World Cup with Portugal and his move to the Saudi Pro League as disqualifying factors.

  • There are no Americans or Mexican internationals among the 100 in the list. This suggests that there is still a long way to go before these players are elite. (Tough seasons for players like Hirving Lozano, Christian Pulisic, and Tyler Adams certainly contribute to their non-ranking.)

  • The Premier League comes first It represents 45 of the 100 players and is heavily biased towards the top clubs and top four. (The full breakdown: Man City 13, Arsenal 8, Liverpool 6, Man United 6, Newcastle 4, Brighton 3; Chelsea/West Ham/Tottenham/Aston Villa have one each.)

  • Man City provided the most names for FC 100closely followed by Barcelona (10) and Real Madrid (9).

How the lists were made

This year’s poll saw 50 entries from around the world and from every aspect of ESPN FC, from writers to reporters, editors to producers, behind-the-scenes staff to on-air talent. Gab Marcotti, Julien Laurens, Mark Ogden and Luis Miguel Echegaray were just some of the most important voters alongside their FC TV colleagues.

Voters were asked to consider the following when casting their vote: Who are the best players right now, weighted in relation to their 2022-23 season? Voters were given discretion over how many violations played a role in voting. Several players made it through to qualifying despite missing parts of the season considering how great their contributions and performances were when healthy. Performances in individual competitions (e.g. Champions League, World Cup) were also taken into account, but were not the decisive factor in voting. Of course, players who have spanned the widest range of games should rank higher than those who have excelled in short tournament formats.

Here are some of the questions we asked voters:

Q: On what basis should I rate my players?
A: Who do you think are the best players right now if they were fully fit?

Q: How much should I consider the current season?
A: It will likely be an important part, but this is not a 2022-23 best players ranking. Rather, this season should play a major role in your assessment, as it reflects recent performances. If someone is outstanding in 2022-23, there is reason to believe that they are currently an outstanding player.

Q: What if someone has been performing very well for a long time but hasn’t been as good this year?
A: Then it comes to the decision. Sadio Mane, for example, is a great player but this season he has scored 12 goals in 34 games compared to 23 in 51 last year. He’s 31 so you’d have to decide if it’s just a dip in form due to a new team and manager or if you think his ability might be slipping now that he’s older.

Q: How do we deal with players who have been injured for extended periods of the season?
A: Rate them based on the periods of time they have been fit and their past work. Again, if they have been absent for a long time, decide whether you think the injury had such a long-term impact that their performance was permanently impaired.

Q: Should we give more weight to performances in big competitions like the World Cup and Champions League?
A: Not necessarily. If there’s a player who excelled in the Champions League (think Divock Origi a few years ago) but was an ordinary player in the league, he probably shouldn’t be in your ranking.

What the FC 100 Top 10 is about

The key here is twofold: why each player made the list in the 2022-23 season and where they want to go next season.



For the modern goalkeeper, knowing how to use your gloves is not enough. Today’s goaltenders are expected to both start and finish attacking moves.

Agility and reflexes are par for the course, but the world’s best goalkeepers also bring a sense of confidence and daring into their penalty area that really makes them appear larger than life.

The full list can be found here.

Be right back


Right-back has never been the most glamorous position, but the game’s many developments have seen it become an exciting and unpredictable place on the pitch. The best in the game combine strong positional awareness with incredible speed and the courage to push forward and support their teams in attack.

The full list can be found here.

center back


If you want a great team, you need a great central defender (two if you’re really lucky). The best in the game are impressive in both their size and strength, but also have the grace to time tackles and anticipate a forward’s movements to win back the ball.

Grace on and off the ball is key, whether you’re making a weighted upward pass or sneaking past opponents to take the pressure off.

The full list can be found here.

left behind


Just like their counterparts at the opposite end, the best left-backs combine speed and intelligence to pose a threat on attack or defence. Comfort and precision on left-footed crosses are also a rare commodity, but the best players are at their best at the point of overlap before rolling in the perfect ball.

The full list can be found here.

Central midfield


The engine room. The metronome. The straw that stirs the drink. Central midfield is the nerve center of any successful team, but the beauty of this position is that there can be many different forms of excellence.

There are hard-hitting looters that cover a lot of grass and capture the ball every time. Or how about the Maestro, who is skilled on both feet and does his best when it comes to dribbling through opponents and threading the right pass? Then there are the guys who set the tone for their teams through the strength of their distribution, always paying attention to their teammates’ movements and constantly being able to spot them on the run.

Whatever your preference, your team will fail in the middle of the park with no quality.

The full list can be found here.

Attacking midfielder


Mischief, creativity, pace and self-confidence: these are the basic qualities of the best attacking midfielders. Sometimes referred to as the No. 10, these guys are just as good at scoring goals as they are at assisting. They have the freedom to move around the field and utilize the space, and their great ability to create from nothing makes them some of the most entertaining players out there.

The full list can be found here.



Wingers are a bit outdated in the modern game, but there are still many advantages to having fast attacking players on the outside. Blessed with the pace and tenacity to beat their observers and make it to the baseline for a clipped cross, they can be downright dangerous.

The full list can be found here.



Forwards are more mysterious and harder to define in this beautiful game these days. They’re not just forwards like they used to be, parked in the six-yard box, ready to be poached. They aren’t really attacking midfielders orchestrating play from deep, nor are they wingers whose job it is to stretch opposing defenses for teammates to take advantage of.

Instead, they’re a powerful blend of it all, talented enough to master the free role and graceful enough to perform consistently even under pressure.

The full list can be found here.



The modern striker is an unstoppable opponent who roams the penalty area. You score in every game, against every team and in every position. They are characterized by their speed and quick wit, their ability to read the game and predict where the ball will be three passes before it arrives.

It’s not just the tap-ins they score with: the best forwards can improvise with any part of their body (except their hands, of course) to get the job done. Clever moves, nifty tricks, cheeky heels and calm set pieces are their best weapons.

The full list can be found here.



All of this means little without an equally adept mastermind on the sidelines. Football’s best managers are calculated with their tactics, charming enough with their people management skills to handle the emotional toll of an entire club season and confident enough to deal with the psychological drains of sophisticated media and external pressure from fans.

Top managers transform each team from a group of individuals into a well-coordinated, harmonious collective where each player knows their role and worth. And they’ll look good doing it, too.

The full list can be found here.

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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