World Cup 2010 top 20 players

Soccer World Cup Top 20 Players

Grahame L. Jones’ Rankings

Top 20 players going to the 2010 World Cup

1—LIONEL MESSI, Argentina, midfielder/forward, 22

After winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008 and six trophies with FC Barcelona in 2009, the unstoppable Messi wants the biggest prize of all in 2010.

2—XAVI, Spain, midfielder, 30

The brain at the center of Barcelona’s recent successes and key to Spain’s European Championship triumph in 2008, Xavi will again conduct the Spanish orchestra at the World Cup.

3—WAYNE ROONEY, England, forward, 24

Without Rooney to provide the punch up front, England goes nowhere in South Africa, but fortunately for English fans, the Manchester United striker has hit peak form this season.

4—LUIS FABIANO, Brazil, forward, 29

Fabiano is Brazil’s and Sevilla’s main strike threat and was the top goal scorer at the 2009 Confederations Cup.

5—GIANLUIGI BUFFON, Italy, goalkeeper, 32

Regarded as the world’s No. 1, the Juventus star gave up only two goals when Italy won it all in 2006.

6—FERNANDO TORRES, Spain, forward, 26

The Liverpool striker scored the winner against Germany in the Euro 2008 final and is deadly in the box.

7—WESLEY SNEIJDER, Netherlands, midfielder, 25

The most creative Dutch player of his generation, the Inter Milan playmaker has a lethal free kick.

8—FRANCK RIBERY, France, winger, 27

Heir apparent to Zinedine Zidane, Bayern Munich’s Ribery boasts speed, skill and top-flight finishing ability.

9—ANDRES INIESTA, Spain, midfielder, 25

The Barcelona veteran’s technical skill and vision have led to Rooney’s calling him the best player in the world.

10—DIDIER DROGBA, Ivory Coast, forward, 32

Africa’s reigning player of the year, the Chelsea standout has size, strength and a particularly fearsome shot.

11—FRANK LAMPARD, England, midfielder, 32

Tactically astute and the best passer on England’s team, Chelsea’s Lampard also makes a difference with his goals.

12—ANDREA PIRLO, Italy, midfielder, 30

What Lampard is to England, the AC Milan “architect” is to the Azzurri. In other words, indispensable.

13—IKER CASILLAS, Spain, goalkeeper, 28

With the second-most appearances in Spanish history, the Real Madrid ‘keeper ranks up there with Italy’s Buffon.

14—CARLOS TEVEZ, Argentina, forward, 26

Like Messi, Tevez has an Olympic gold medal, won in Athens in 2004, but the Manchester City striker wants the big prize.

15—JULIO CESAR, Brazil, goalkeeper, 30

Safe hands and quick reactions make Inter Milan’s Cesar the undisputed first choice for the Selecao.

16—ARJEN ROBBEN, Netherlands, winger, 26

Pace and a deadly shot have earned Bayern Munich’s Robben championships in the Netherlands, England and Spain.

17—SAMUEL ETO’O, Cameroon, forward, 29

The Inter Milan and former Barcelona forward is one of the most accomplished strikers in African soccer history.

18—KAKA, Brazil, midfielder, 27

This will be playmaker Kaka’s third World Cup and his final chance to make an impact on soccer’s biggest stage.

19—CRISTIANO RONALDO, Portugal, winger, 25

The world’s most expensive player cost Real Madrid $132 million but lately has been in the shadow of Messi and Rooney.

20—MICHAEL ESSIEN, Ghana, midfielder, 27

The hard-as-nails Chelsea midfielder is the rock around which Ghana’s team has long been constructed.