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

Defining World-Class

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)


Centre Backs

Full Backs

Centre Midfield

Attacking Midfield



Just Missed Out

Ruben Dias, Paul Pogba, Heung Min Son, Jadon SanchoMarcus Rashford, Emiliano Martinez, Yassine Bounou, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, Alphonso Davies, 


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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  1. Heung Min Son has won every individual Club Award for at least 2 years in a row including best player at Spurs voted by the membership (that’s right, over Harry Kane whom you call world class). If most of Spur’s own fans consider Son better than Kane (whom you have termed world class) for the last 2 seasons, what does that say? He has also won Asian Footballer of the Year at least 5 times in a row, captained his team to the AFC Asian Cup trophy that got him out of military service, but clearly you consider none of these to be team honours, perhaps a little Euro-centric? Here are a few of his European honours though – he has won Premier League player of the month multiple times as much as Gareth Bale, FIFA Puskas award, in PFA Team of the Year. At least be consistent with your own criteria, which to be honest is rather arbitrary and clearly Euro-centric.

    • The criteria is euro-centric as Europe is clearly the the best footballing continent. A European team wins the club World Cup every year and a non European team hasn’t won the World Cup since 2002. Kane missed large chunks of the previous 2 seasons, making it hard to win the individual awards. Son has never had a season scoring over 15 league goals. Is that really world class level for a attacker? The FIFA puskas award doesn’t determine how good a player is it’s simply one moment of brilliance. Son was not playing against any top class players to win the Asian games. While son is clearly a top class player he lacks the consistency and big awards to be considered world class


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