The term world-class is overused. Five years ago a player would have to put together multiple top-class consistent seasons to be considered world-class but nowadays a five-game run of 8 out of 10 performances gets a player the tag.
Anthony Martial, for example, had an amazing purple patch post-lockdown and was instantly considered world-class however he only has four league goals this season; the same as Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma.
World-Class Tag Thrown About Too Much
World-Class should only apply to the best in the world, to players that are consistently performing week in and week out. So what are the criteria for being world-class and how many players are. Let’s start with the criteria.
- Top five in the world in their position
- Playing in the top five European leagues (Ligue 1, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A)
- Multiple top-class spells (six months or more)
- Has won multiple individuals or team trophies
- Excels in both domestic and non-domestic competitions
Now we’ve got the criteria sorted let’s put it to the test. Heung-Min Son misses out using these criteria. He passes the first three points but hasn’t won enough individual or team honours to make the cut.
The Korean international is a six-time national Footballer Of The Year but the award lacks sufficient competition to make it mean something. Another notable exclusion is Manchester City centre-back Ruben Dias. He is currently playing at a world-class level but hasn’t been doing it for long enough to pass. Fellow countryman Bruno Fernandes is included with his four Premier League Player Of The Month awards in a year being enough to see him through.
Eden Hazard is a player who was considered world-class by the formula until recently. Since signing for Real Madrid, Hazard has clearly dropped out of the top five wingers in the world and therefore is not world-class anymore. Should the Belgian international have a resurgence soon he’ll become world-class once again.
The Players Who Are Currently World-Class
(based on the criteria used above)
- Jan Oblak – has like an 80% save percentage
- Alisson (despite his blunders against Manchester City)
- Manuel Neuer – the inventor of the sweeper-keeper
- Virgil Van Dijk – fundamental to Liverpool winning the Premier League after 30 years
- Jerome Boateng
- Sergio Ramos – most complete defender
- Raphael Varane
- Mohamed Salah – The first player to score 40+ goals in the league since Ronaldo
- Sadio Mane
- Kylian Mbappe
- Lionel Messi
- Raheem Sterling
- Luis Suarez
- Robert Lewandowski – 63 goals in 58 games last season
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Harry Kane
Just Missed Out
Overall, this formula is quite accurate it makes players like Anthony Martial properly prove themselves before they’re considered to be world-class but it does leave conundrums like Trent Alexander Arnold. It stops players like Gareth Bale being considered world-class way after their prime has passed. The one problem is it stops loyal players like Jack Grealish and Harry Kane getting the recognition they deserve as world-class as they don’t win as much with their respective clubs. A move to a bigger club is always touted for them but is it really time for them to make that step-up so they don’t waste their prime years without winning trophies?
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