Few sports on the planet can compete with soccer in terms of global appeal, with billions of fans across the world infatuated with the ‘Beautiful Game’.
With more scrutiny than ever before on every game, thanks to the advent of social media and the instantaneous of sport within society, everybody wants to give their 2 cents worth as to who is the best soccer player in the world.
2022 has so far been another stellar year for the game, with Real Madrid clinching a record 14th Champions League title, producing some incredible performances along the way.
Manchester City continue to rule the roost in England, with Bayern Munich following suit in Germany and Paris Saint Germain returning to the top of the pile in France.
AC Milan kept the Serie A title in Lombardy following Inter Milan’s title win in 2021, whilst Liverpool threatened to do an unprecedented quadruple for much of the season, ultimately falling short at the final hurdle in the English Premier League and the aforementioned Champions League.
All of which comes against the backdrop of a first ever winter FIFA World Cup on the horizon, with Qatar 2022 set to be one of the most incredible sporting events in recent memory.
With more soccer than ever before being played, deciphering the very best players in the world is no easy task – with the old debate between team and individual performances continuing to rage.
Here are the top 10 soccer players in the world in 2022:
10. Sadio Mane
Liverpool and Senegal
It has been an incredible season once more for Sadio Mane.
The Senegalese international was integral in leading his side to the African Cup of Nations in February 2022 and he has excelled in his role of talisman for his country.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mane led his side to World Cup qualification later this year – reaching the finals in consecutive tournaments for the very first time.
Whilst Mane’s status in African football and Senegal in particular is unquestioned he has also performed superbly domestically for Liverpool too.
He scored 23 goals in all competitions for the reds in the 2021/22 season, as Jurgen Klopp’s side won both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup in the same campaign.
Such has been the consistency of his performances this season, that Bayern Munich are believed to be poised to sign Mane for the start of the 2022/23 season and his presence at Anfield is sure to be missed.
9. Harry Kane
Tottenham and England
England captain Harry Kane is one of the most prolific goal scorers in world soccer and his stock continued to rise in 2022.
Coming into the season following a summer of speculation that he would move to Manchester City, Harry Kane decided to stay with Tottenham and led the side to a 4th place finish in the Premier League.
Despite getting off to a slow start by his standards, Kane eventually found his rhythm and he looks to be thriving under new manager Antonio Conte at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Bagging 27 goals in all competitions for Tottenham is indicative of the excellent campaign Kane has had once more in 2022 and he will be keen to kick on again next season.
In addition to his club exploits, Kane became England’s all-time leading scorer in 2022 after netting against Switzerland and he will be integral to England’s hopes at the World Cup in Qatar later in the year.
8. Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool and the Netherlands
It has been an incredible season for Liverpool, who came within two games of winning all 4 competitions available to them in 2022.
A far cry from their 4th place finish in 2021 and the return of their inspirational central defender Virgil van Dijk has been integral to their success this year.
Dominating attacks from the back, Virgil van Dijk is undoubtedly the best defender in the world currently and his performances for both club and country are unerringly consistent.
Playing over 50 games for Liverpool in all competitions is sure to take its toll on both the body and mind but van Dijk was imperious throughout the campaign, as Liverpool won two domestic trophies.
In addition to his superb performances at Anfield, van Dijk helped his native Netherlands qualify for their first World Cup since 2014 and he will be keen to drive his side through the group stages and towards the knockout rounds in Qatar.
7. Erling Haaland
Borussia Dortmund and Norway
Star strikers can often elevate sides to a whole new level and Manchester City are hoping that Erling Haaland can have that impact when he joins the club in the summer of 2022.
Having made a name for himself at Red Bull Salzburg, Haaland moved to Borussia Dortmund in at the start of 2020 and his stock has risen exponentially.
With 30 games played and 29 goals scored in 2022, Haaland’s record in front of goal has been incredible and he is recognised as one of the best strikers in the world – despite only being 21 years of age.
His move to Manchester City could well bring the Champions League City so desperately crave and the Norwegian will be spearheading the line at the Etihad from August 2022 onwards.
With 15 goals scored in just 17 international appearances, Haaland has transferred his goal scoring exploits over to international level and he will be keen to propel Norway to a major tournament from 2024 onwards.
6. Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid and Belgium
Goalkeepers are often overlooked in top 10 countdowns in soccer, with the impact forwards tend to have on matches easier to quantify.
However, Thibaut Courtois has stepped up hugely in 2022 and is undoubtedly one of the best stoppers in world soccer.
It has been a tough few seasons for the former Chelsea man, who went through the ringer with his Real Madrid side and with Belgium underachieving at international level too, it looked as if Courtois’s best days were behind him
However, with incredible performances for Real Madrid against PSG, Manchester City and Liverpool, Courtois was integral to their success this year, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side also winning the La Liga title.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar also presents Courtois with the opportunity to help Belgium go one better than their 3rd place showing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
5. Kylian Mbappe
Paris Saint Germain and France
It is hard to believe that Kylian Mbappe is still only 23 years old and with a World Cup winners medal under his belt, the world of soccer is his oyster.
His transfer to PSG back in the summer of 2017 along with Neymar Jr, revolutionised the whole funding structure around world soccer transfers and he is an icon of the sport.
Domestically, Mbappe’s goals propelled PSG to yet another Ligue 1 title, but it was a season that ended in fan discontent, with the wait for a Champions League trophy continuing in the French capital.
However, the news that Mbappe wasn’t going to join Real Madrid but stay in Paris was perhaps the silver lining to a cloud that has somewhat hung over PSG this term.
Despite all of the conjecture, Mbappe’s goal record continues to impress, with 39 goals scored in 45 games in all competitions and he will be a key part of France’s defence of the World Cup in Qatar later in 2022.
4. Kevin de Bruyne
Manchester City and Belgium
When it comes to creativity, few players in world football can compete with Kevin de Bruyne, who has spearheaded Manchester City to Premier League glory once more in 2022.
Since arriving at the club in 2015, de Bruyne has gone from strength to strength, and he is now integral to everything Manchester City do.
Pep Guardiola’s swashbuckling style of football is perhaps ideal for the way in which KDB operates and he will be looking to inspire the blues to Champions League glory in 2022/23.
With 19 goals scored across all competitions in 2022, de Bruyne also added a killer instinct to his game and with no frontline striker at City, his goals have been hugely influential.
His impact for Belgium continues to be felt too, with 23 international goals in 88 games and he will be hoping to inspire his country to glory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
3. Mohamed Salah
Liverpool and Egypt
Liverpool’s resurgence under Jurgen Klopp has been inspirational and few components of the Anfield machine are as crucial as Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian fell through the cracks at Chelsea before moving to Roma and it has been his transfer to Liverpool in 2017 that has defined his career.
Goals are the currency any attacker deals in and few players in world soccer compare to Salah when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.
31 goals in 51 games in all competitions has been vital in Liverpool’s success this season and with two trophies already in the bag in 2022, there looks to be no limit as to how far Salah and Liverpool can go.
Whilst the African Cup of Nations continues to elude Salah for Egypt, he has netted 47 career goals for his country, and he will be looking to inspire his nation moving forward with World Cups and more AFCON tournaments on the horizon.
2. Karim Benzema
Real Madrid and France
Frenchman Karim Benzema has enjoyed an incredible renaissance period in 2022, playing the most integral role in Real Madrid’s historic Champions League win.
Real’s win in Paris was their 14th Champions League triumph, 5 of which have come with Benzema in the squad – making him one of the most decorated European footballers in history.
Despite the bottomless pot of funds at Real Madrid, no striker coming into the fold over the past decade has enjoyed the impact that Benzema has had, and he is as important in Carlo Ancelotti’s side as he ever has been.
44 goals in just 46 games is indicative of just how prolific Benzema has been in 2022, as Real romped to the La Liga title, in addition to their Champions League triumph.
His performances for Real Madrid has also inspired France to call him back into the international fold and he looks set to lead the line for ‘les blues’ at the 2022 World Cup – where he will look to add to his 36 career international goals.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich and Poland
On the long list of all time goal scorers, very few can compete with Polish goal machine Robert Lewandowski.
For the best part of a decade, Lewandowski has been banging the goals in and his impact in the Bundesliga has been monumental.
Plying your trade in an era shared by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi can’t have been easy but Lewandowski has plodded on and picked up his reward by winning the Ballon d’Or at the back end of 2021.
Domestically, Lewandowski has hammered the goals in once more for Bayern Munich, with 50 goals in just 46 games – his third successive season where he has a positive goals to games ratio.
His goals once again inspired Bayern to their 8th successive Bundesliga title and whilst they fell short in the Champions League, Lewandowski’s status as the best player in the world is undoubted.
In addition to ripping it up for his club, Lewandowski’s goals have also propelled Poland to the World Cup in Qatar later in 2022 and with him in the side, anything is seemingly possible.
About the Author: Sam Hayes
Combining his sports coaching career with freelance journalism, Sam is a sports betting writer for various online publications. He is looking to develop both his respective coaching and writing careers, whilst incorporating his other huge passion – travelling the world.
Sam currently lives and works in Milan, Italy and playing/following/writing about cricket, football (soccer), tennis, formula 1 and golf continue to take up much of his spare time.