194-193 (for writeups)
A few more, including AT LEAST ONE facemelter.
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Theo Walcott - Arsenal - England
Wing - Forward
Like Ramos, Walcott is another player who had a rollercoaster ride up and down the positions of this list.
At 20 he is a player who definitely can still improve in a lot of areas.
Actually in a lot of those areas he might be one of the worst players on the list! However as everyone knows he has that great gift of speed and in the end I just didn't feel comfortable leaving someone so elite in that important differencemaking area off the list.
I think it's clear that when he has space available to him he is right up there in effectiveness with players ranked much higher.
With injury problems lately (and that counts against him too), a very good indication of exactly how good he is just now, will be to what extent he gets a run in Arsenal's new 4-3-3 this season and how well he performs in it. Will be interesting to watch!
Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal - Wales
No I haven't seen a lot of him but I'm confident that what I've seen is good enough.
Actually having seen him so little is probably what stops me from putting him even higher!
I'm being a little (too) careful. This is after all a player who is yet to play a whole lot on the highest level.
Sure, I suppose there is a chance that I'm overrating him. That it's ALL TOO SOON.
But what I seriously think I've seen would fully justify including him. Just because it's so rare and so few players got it. Ramsey he's got it!
He has that superb vision and playmaking ability that you only see from very few players and there is great technique too.
Ability, and this is where almost every talent of this type fails/develops into something else in the current game, on a high enough level to survive, to thrive in a climate of tight opposition team defense.
In fact on this whole list you only see it from a very small handful of players so what I think we have with Ramsey is a truly unique talent and possibly the most interesting talent to come out of the UK since Joe Cole (someone like Rooney was a bigger talent but of a nature that at least at the time was less interesting).
AND I do think Ramsey's playmaking ability is a level above what Joe Cole's was and the sick thing is, his technique is at least comparable too!
Even if somehow everything else about him is way below average I'd say that it's okay to include him here.
But let's take a lot of some of the other things. Something like how good his movement is I'm not sure of yet and then there is his whole physical ability where there easily could be some way to go.
At least when he is on a team like Arsenal where coincidentally exactly the things Ramsey could bring, that some teams would die for him to bring, on his team IS one of those small handful of unique players who also just happens to be one of the best in the world, AT bringing those things.
I really have a feeling that Ramsey would start on most teams right now and it's really only a team who has someone like Fabregas already who can afford to hold such a gifted player back a little and instead fill the midfield around the big star with more primarely physically talented players.
Players who I might add arguably to some extent has been underachieving quite a bit, and I think Wenger's recent comments about how it's getting more and more difficult not to play Ramsey, is an indication that physically he is getting there too. And I hope so! Cause he will really need to.
With both him and Fabregas playing, even with such a team likely dominating possession, his workrate would have to be very high and he would have to be able to defend his midfield position reasonable well. Whether that would be putting on high pressure on the ball holder Barca style or tracking back transforming the 4-3-3 to more defensive formations when not in possession.
And last but not least here is an interesting article
on him that I found.
Pepe - Real Madrid - Portugal
Even more so than Mexes earlier Pepe is incredibly naturally gifted.
Whatever the sum may be of his great athleticism and excellent technical ability, it's probably higher than for any other central defender on the list, or out there anywhere, I think quite similar to the young Lucio, so despite all the well known flaws, some seen on the picture above, leaving him off the list entirely I just didn't think was the correct choice.
Yeah he is a total nutcase and in the midst of any run of good form, sometimes looking dominant, he is capable of both defensive and epic mental breakdowns.
Hopefully he'll get his act together eventually. Based on talent alone he really should be up there with the very best central defenders.
Sergei Semak - Rubin Kazan - Russia
Captain of the excellent Russian national team as well as the champions Rubin Kazan, this inclusion is somewhat of a tribute to the almost impossible win that Kazan secured over Barcelona.
There was definitely luck involved and Barcelona mostly dominated but Kazan still managed to do what teams astonishingly seldom have succeeded in doing against this historically great Barcelona team, and actually executed their defensive game plan close to perfection.
Under, what of course is, which is why so many teams fail, the most difficult of conditions.
I think sometimes it's a more than a little neglecting of the work that goes into good defense when people talk about a team "just" "parking the bus".
Certainly against Barcelona facing that incredible attack it would never be enough or as simple as to just have the whole team back and kick the ball away, or whatever it is "parking the bus" implies you do exactly.
Some teams are perhaps reduced to that when playing Barcelona but as we see all those teams end up suffering heavy defeats too.
If it was in any way simple or easy to get a result against a team like Barcelona that way then everyone would do it (and maybe not lose all the time!).
No what everyone are trying to do is to play a good defensive game with all that comes with it. Work very hard defending space. Close down at exactly the right times and back off exactly at the right times. This has to go on all over the pitch from almost every player and against a team as good as Barcelona it requires not just very hard work but really wise tactical sense. A lot of that can be prepared by the coach of course, and absolutely have to, but the execution of course is still up to the players.
Chelsea last season in the Champions League was the team, maybe the only team all season who was able to do it. They had a great coach in Hiddink to organize things to perfection and they had the right players to execute (not just by parking the bus) but with team defense at a high enough level to give themselves a great chance to win.
Now I wouldn't say Rubin Kazan was on that level defensively, that Chelsea showed in that game. Not even close. Barcelona created a lot of chances, but still they did do a good job and their players executed very well under great pressure.
And not just out of the blue either. Apparently Kazan has only lost once away from home in over a year.
That's pretty remarkable in itself and that (finally) brings me to their captain, the currently ranked 189 player in the world, Sergei Semak who quite simply embodies these things. All these things talked about above!
He is a veteran leader for club and country who quite simply does all the right things in his defensive midfield position. Both with and without the ball.
Obviously he is far from the most talented so far on this list, he is in fact the least talented, but he could very well be the smartest (his teachers wanted him to become a mathematician!) And if you combine that with what is still a very impressive workrate for a 33 year old then you have one very effective football player. One I think worthy of a spot on this list.
The list so far:
200: Alberto Zapater - Genoa - Spain
199: Nikola Zigic - Valencia - Serbia
198: Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid - Spain
197: Lucio - Inter - Brazil
196: John Obi Mikel - Chelsea - Nigeria
195: Sergio Busquets - Barcelona - Spain
194: Philippe Mexes - Roma -France
193: Anatolij Tymoshchuk - Bayern München - Ukraine
192: Theo Walcott - Arsenal - England
191: Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal - Wales
190: Pepe - Real Madrid - Portugal
189: Sergei Semak - Rubin Kazan - Russia