Top 10 of the world's best football players in 2023.
Top 10 of the world’s best football players in 2023.
  • Vinicius Junior has played very well in the Champions League, but he isn’t ranked as highly overall because he hasn’t won any hardware and has had some problems in the second part of the year.
  • Jude Bellingham has made a huge difference at Real Madrid and has always played his best in big games for both his club and his country.
  • Harry Kane may not have won any awards, but he scored a lot of goals in 2023 and recently moved to Bayern Munich, making him one of the best players to watch in the coming year.

By its very nature, football is a democracy that is always changing.

These days, there are glass ceilings that don’t seem to be able to be broken, and many people think that some teams and countries will always be among the world’s best because they have a lot of resources that have helped them reach a certain level of financial and sports success.

But even so, there is an extremely fair system for promoting and relegating teams from the very top of club football to the very bottom. This, along with getting into international tournaments that gets harder and harder, means that every team has to constantly defend their position, game after game, season after season, era after era.

Among those, picking the exact best football player in the world at any given time is a tough task. In theory, that title could change hands after any given match based on how well each player played. But letting views change so quickly would only cause chaos.

So, what is the correct answer to that question? It would be a good start to limit our search to exploits that happen in 2023. But even then, past successes can’t be totally ignored, and form alone isn’t enough to give an answer.

Therefore, our standards are as follows: to be the best player in the world right now, you must first and foremost be known as a top-level talent and have also regularly delivered this year. For those in that group, it’s then a matter of showing clear proof of perfect form, such as goals, assists, clean saves, or just plain good play all around. Perhaps most importantly, it’s important to know who and what competition that perfect form was shown against.

But how much you’ve got to show for playing well is also very important. Ability, form, and total effect are all important factors, but what sets many of the places in our rankings apart is whether or not you’ve won anything, like a trophy or an award for your work. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but because context is also important, that’s what gets written down in history books.

To get back to the question at hand: Who is the world’s best football player in 2023? Check out our list below…

Read More: Twitter Reacts: Mbappe’s Frustration, Messi and Neymar’s Herculean Effort in PSG’s First Season Loss to Nice

Vinicius the Junior

It’s been a slow start for Vinicius Junior in La Liga this season, and he hasn’t won any awards in 2023. Without a doubt, the Brazilian is a magician in the Champions League. He finished last season as the competition’s third-highest scorer and second-highest assister. Putting aside the Group Stages from the previous year, Vinicius scored a goal against Man City, set up two goals against Chelsea, and scored two goals and set up two more against Liverpool in the knockout stages. As expected, he’s off to a good start in the 2023–24 European season, hitting goals against Napoli and Braga.

Overall, Vinicius finished sixth in the Ballon d’Or rankings and was named to the Champions League and La Liga Teams of the Season. However, he has had trouble finding his groove in the second half of 2023 and has no hardware to show for his hard work this year.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamNone
IndividualLa Liga Team of the Season, Champions League Team of the Season

Jude Bellingham

It’s been a while since a player at Real Madrid came in and made such an instant difference, especially one who is only 20 years old. Jude Bellingham is that player. However, the midfield master couldn’t end his Borussia Dortmund career with a Bundesliga title because the Black-Yellows lost to Bayern Munich again on goal difference. That doesn’t change the fact that Bellingham has had a great year and has consistently performed well in important situations.

Bellingham has become Real Madrid’s de facto top scorer, doing great as a false nine in the Champions League and scoring or setting up goals against Scotland, Germany, and Italy while on international duty for England. He scored twice in October’s El Clasico and in three straight Champions League group games. As a football player, he seems to have it all, and few have surprised more in 2023.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamNone
IndividualBundesliga Player of the Season, Bundesliga Team of the Season, Kopa Trophy

Harry Kane

Harry Kane is on this list even though he hasn’t won a football prize yet (though he has made it to four finals): he’s scored an amazing number of goals in 2023. There was no way Tottenham could finish higher than eighth in the Premier League last season, but Kane scored 17 goals in 22 games after the turn of the year, making him the second-highest scorer in the league.

Then, in the summer, Kane signed with Bayern Munich, and his play has been even better since then. So far, he has scored more goals than he has played, and he has set up a good number of others. Against Darmstadt, he scored an amazing wondergoal from inside his own half. Kane has had a great year in 2023, and it looks like he will break his trophy drought at the Allianz Arena by the end of the season. But 2024 could be even better.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamNone
IndividualPremier League Team of the Season

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

Last season, Napoli won their first Serie A title since 1990. Their fierce forward line helped them score the most goals of any team in the league. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, a 22-year-old player, played a big role in that. He became a big star in Italy, where he won the Player of the Month award for February and March, as well as the Goal of the Season award, the Top Assist Provider award, and the Player of the Season award. In Europe, he was named the Champions League’s Young Player of the Season, though it should be noted that most of his goals and assists came in that competition.

Still, the Georgian player had a great second half of last season in Italy. He has started this season just as well, setting up goals and scoring them himself with the usual frequency. However, Napoli are currently behind the other teams in the race for the Serie A title.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamSerie A
IndividualSerie A Most Valuable Player, Serie A Top Assist Provider, Serie A Team of the Season, Serie A Goal of the Season, Champions League Young Player of the Season

Victor Osimhen

Many people thought it would be impossible to choose between these two players after what they did in 2023. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia may be the better all-around player, but Osimhen is higher on our list because he scored so many goals all year, leading Napoli to a historic Italian title. Last season, the Nigerian star scored 26 goals, which was the most in Serie A. He has continued to play well this season, even though he almost got into a legal fight with his own club over a totally inappropriate TikTok video.

As of 2023, Osimhen has gone from being a very bright young striker to being one of the best goal scorers in the world. This is an amazing achievement for someone who is only 24 years old. It looks like 2024 will be another great year for the forward. The biggest teams in Europe will definitely want to hire him.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamSerie A
IndividualSerie A Best Striker, Serie A Top Scorer, Serie A Team of the Season, AFCON Qualifiers Top Scorer

Kylian Mbappé

There hasn’t been much of an amazing year for Kylian Mbappe in 2023. This is mostly because PSG lost to Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, which stopped him from really excelling beyond destroying any defense in French football. On top of that, he has spent a lot of the year worrying about his future at PSG. To make him happy, they made him the team’s star player (goodbye Lionel Messi) and signed two of his best friends, Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani.

Even so, Mbappe’s play has still been dangerous. He played in 43 games across all categories last season and scored 41 goals and set up 10 others. More than half of those goals came in the 2023 season. This season, the 2018 World Cup winner is still doing well at home, even though his goalless games against Newcastle and AC Milan in the Champions League Group Stages made people take notice.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamTeam
IndividualLigue 1 Player of the Season, Ligue 1 Top Scorer, Ligue 1 Team of the Season, Ballon d’Or 3rd Place

Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne would be much higher on this list if it weren’t for one annoying fact: the best thing that happened to him in 2023 was also his worst: the Manchester City star got hurt in the 2023 Champions League final and had to limp off. His Manchester City team still won the European championship, finishing a famous treble that might be more impressive than Manchester United’s for how dominant it was in football. De Bruyne hasn’t kicked a ball much since then, though. He only played for 23 minutes of the new Premier League season before having to leave the game because of another injury. This was his seventh since the start of the 2021/22 season.

De Bruyne’s first half of 2023 was better than the rest of the year for most players, as shown by the fact that he ended fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings. He was also named to the Premier League and Champions League Teams of the Season and won the award for Best Assist Provider in the English Premier League. In 2023, he scored four goals and set up seven others in the Premier League. He also made two F.A. He scored and set up a goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamPremier League, F.A. Cup, Champions League
IndividualPremier League Team of the Season, Champions League Team of the Season

Rodri

A lot of the time, defensive midfielders don’t get the credit they earn. That’s why it’s a big deal when one of them wins the Ballon d’Or and is named the Champions League Player of the Season. In reality, Rodri always plays well, but his almost constant presence (56 games across all competitions) as Manchester City won the treble brought attention to his unsung heroics, and his cool finish from the edge of the box in the Champions League final made him the star of the show.

Rodri did great work for both his club and his country last season. He was also named Player of the Tournament for the 2023 Nations League, which Spain won. Rodri has done what was expected of him so far this season, averaging over 100 passes per game in both the Premier League and the Champions League. He also won the European Super Cup, which is another trophy for his name.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamPremier League, F.A. Cup, Champions League, Nations League
IndividualPremier League Team of the Season, Champions League Player of the Season, Champions League Team of the Season, Nations League Finals Player of the Tournament

The Lionel Messi

If the World Cup in Qatar had ended a few weeks earlier, the official best football player of all time would have definitely been at the top of this list. We have to stick to our regular rules, though, so Messi’s title as world winner with Argentina can’t be counted as an accomplishment in 2023. No matter what, the Barcelona star has still had a pretty great year. At the end of his PSG career, he won Ligue 1 with 16 goals and 16 assists, which was the most goal-settings of any player in the league. After the turn of the year, he scored nine goals and set up six others in the French top flight.

Messi then took on the unique challenge of making Inter Miami the new unstoppable force in American soccer. He did just that in a matter of months, leading David Beckham’s team to the 2023 Leagues Cup and scoring a ridiculous 10 goals in seven games, including a penalty kick in the final. Even though MLS football isn’t as good as European football, Messi’s rise to fame and the attention it has gotten around the world is still an amazing feat.

Then Messi won a record-setting eighth Ballon d’Or to honor not only another great season but also a great career. Now, winning another one doesn’t look likely, but neither does anyone ever beating Messi’s eight titles as the best player in the world.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamLigue 1, Leagues Cup
IndividualBallon d’Or 1st Place

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland not only played well enough to be ranked as one of the best players in the world in 2023, but he also did a lot of great things. There may be a lot of disagreement about the Norway striker’s general skills as a football player, but that doesn’t matter much when you can score goals. Haaland scored the most goals in the Premier League and the Champions League in 2022–23, and he also won the European Golden Shoe. He led Manchester City to a Premier League, F.A. Cup, and Champions League treble. Also, he scored 36 goals in 35 Premier League games, 15 of which came in 2023, setting a new record for most goals scored in a single season. Haaland’s started the new season in great shape both at home and in Europe.

This list may seem a bit biased toward strikers, but the truth is that scoring goals is the only way to really measure an attacker’s impact when compared to other players of the same era: how many goals they’ve scored and who they’ve scored them against. You can’t avoid goals either. They decide games. So, even though other players may have just as strong but a little more nuanced claims to the top spot on this list, Haaland’s 6’4″ frame makes it hard to look past him as the best player in the world right now.

2023 Accomplishments

TeamPremier League, F.A. Cup, Champions League
IndividualPremier League Player of the Season, FWA Writer of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot, Champions League Top Scorer, Champions League Team of the Season, European Golden Shoe, Nations League Top Scorer, Ballon d’Or 2nd Place

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