With another season drawing to an end and with the next World Cup right around the corner, football has exploded to huge levels right across the globe as it cements its position as the most popular sport on the planet. Billions of pounds have been invested in teams, with clubs seemingly operating more and more like high-flying businesses with every passing year.
Below we check out the hottest and most valuable players in the world right now. Whether it be through eye-watering lucrative transfer fees, feats of brilliance that had millions of fans spamming the replay button or just a high profile nature, if they’ve taken the football world by storm this year they’ll be in.
In a world of crazy transfer fees, surprise breakout stars and constant record-shattering feats, Lionel Messi has always remained above everyone else. Undoubtedly the best player of this generation along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi will go down by many as the greatest player of all time. His name is known right across the globe and his feats on the pitch have engrossed every football fan at some point.
With the ability to run rings around any team put in front of him, Messi's skill and technique is quite simply unmatched in the world. His flair and passing make him a stand out contributor for his team, whereas his prolific and sometimes genius way of finding the net makes him stand out whenever he's playing.
Still producing stunning moments of extravagance and utter genius at the supposed 'old' age of 32, Cristiano Ronaldo has been showing his class for years and years. An international symbol both on and off the pitch right across the globe, very little players have made football as branded as Ronaldo has.
His swagger and self-confidence is more than justified on the pitch as he helps carry Real Madrid to another Champions League final. He has scooped up five Ballon D'Or awards, been crowned with accolades and awards from all corners of the globe, none of which really grap the full scope of just how good he truly is.
Easily the most expensive player the world has ever seen, Neymar's public and controversial move from Spanish giants Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain rocked the football world and thrust Neymar forward as the most marketable footballer in the world. Once dubbed the successor to Messi, Neymar's surprise move laid down a serious marker for the Catalonian team.
With constant comparisons being made to one of the all time greats in Pele, Neymar has constantly been battling with some of the toughest and roughest expectations any player has had to deal with. With leading the line for a blossoming Brazil team in front of him, this summer might be the break Neymar has needed.
The jewel in one of the most exciting and equally terrifying attacks in the whole world, Mohamed Salah's story is as inspiring as it is exciting. Rising through the ranks and experiencing plenty of rejection along the way, Salah has established himself as the very best player in the Premier League and has even generated plenty of conversation over whether he might be the first to break the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon D'Or status quo.
With over forty goals to his name, Salah has been the most instrumental character in Liverpool's domestic and ,more importantly, European successes. His electric pace and ability to find the net is something that frightens opposition defences before he's even kicked the ball.
Spearheading Manchester City's triumphant league success this season and establishing himself as the stand out player in one of the best teams in the history of the league, Kevin De Bruyne might very well be the best midfielder in the world. Boasting a six year contract and a fee of £55 million, it's clear to see how highly Manchester City rate their central midfielder.
With the unmatched ability to spot a pass from anywhere on the pitch and even produce a stunning strike of his own, Kevin De Bruyne quite simply makes rival fans envious that they don't have him in their team.
An absolute megastar at Atletico Madrid for years now, Antoine Griezmann is a talismanic player with all the ability in the world to create something spectacular. Reportedly demanding wages of close to £400,000 a week from the likes of Manchester United, it is clear to see that Griezmann is a wanted man from the world's elite level clubs.
Blessed with speedy dribbling, a wand of a left foot and one eye constantly on the spectacular, Griezmann is another name to follow over the course of the summer. One of the hottest targets for clubs in need of more genuine star quality, look out for a hefty transfer fee by his name.
Paul Pogba was undoubtedly the footballer on everyone's lips when Manchester United smashed the world record transfer fee for the midfielder in the summer of 2016. Two seasons on and he is still the focal point of everyone's attention whenever Manchester United take to the field, his world class presence proving to be absolutely vital to their successes in recent years.
Known for his wild hairstyles and social media antics just as much as his outstanding ability on the pitch, Pogba is quite simply a player who can do it all. Found right in the middle of the pitch in the heart of the action, he can graft in with the hefty and heavy tackles, pass a ball sixty metres or even pull out an absolute gem of a goal himself.
With six years and over two hundred appearences behind him, Eden Hazard has been a mainstay and vital player for Chelsea in all competitions. Signed for what seems like a bit of a bargain at £32 million in 2012, Hazard's brilliance for Chelsea has constantly triggered stories and articles speculating big money swoops from the likes of Real Madrid.
Known for his skill, speed and flair on the ball, Hazard is easily the best player in the Chelsea team and has secured them several trophies almost on his own. With a reasonably disappointing season behind them, the next challenge for Chelsea will be holding onto their star man.
Fiercely fighting for the Brazilian's signature all the way through the summer, Barcelona finally captured Coutinho from Liverpool with the biggest transfer of the January window in 2018. With a fee rising to potentially £142 million if certain clauses in the contract are met, millions of fans around the world were almost overnight talking about Barcelona's new midfielder.
Technically gifted and brilliant on the ball with both feet, Coutinho is the architectural 'number 10' Brazilian that never fails to catch the praise and awe of pundits and fans alike. At 25, there is more than a few good years left in Barcelona's new prodigy and if he continues to help things like shirt sales soar, the club might very well make their money back sooner than expected.
Set to become the second most expensive footballer in history at just nineteen years old, it has been quite the meteoric rise for Kylian Mbappe over the last two seasons. Setting the world alight on the biggest stage possible in the 2016/17 Champions League, the teenager got everyone talking with his fearless pace and eye for goal.
Stretching the muscle of the biggest spenders in the country, Mbappe has enjoyed a successful first season at Paris Saint Germain. Undeterred by the heavyweight names of Neymar, Cavani and Di Maria around him, Mbappe's future success will come from his surprising maturity as much as all his other obvious talents.
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