With the holiday break upon us and Roma’s next match, away to Genoa, still 16 days away, prepare to be bombarded with superfluous football “information”—transfer rumors, year-in-reviews, resolutions, and, naturally, lists; lots of ‘em. In the coming days, we’re sure to see an onslaught of top WAGs, most posh cars and top ten Roma neck tattoos; where there’s a will, there’s a way, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Of course, not all such lists are poppycock. The Guardian’s Top 100 Best Footballers list is generally received to much acclaim—here’s the methodology—and this year is no different.
Fresh off his landmark season—Champions League, European Championships and most recently the Ballon d’Or—Cristiano Ronaldo takes top honors, followed closely by Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Neymar in the top five, while Gareth Bale and Robert Lewandowski just missed that honor. The dividing line between Ronaldo and Messi is always razor thin, but one can presume that Messi’s dalliance with bleached hair cost him points in the eyes of the electorate.
As far as Roma is concerned, while Radja Nainggolan was probably robbed, two Giallorosso did earn top honors, Mohamed Salah and Francesco Totti. Everyone’s favorite Egyptian clocked in at number at number 65, up four spots from last season:
Never really given a chance at Stamford Bridge, the Egypt forward has settled in well to life in the Italian capital and has followed up his return of 14 goals in Serie A last season with eight already this term. The former Basel player has also been in scintillating form for Egypt this year having scored five times in six appearances as the Pharaohs qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010, when they won the tournament for a third time in succession. He could be on the rise again next year if he can inspire them to another victory.
While we probably could make the case he’s about ten spots too low, given Serie A’s declining stature on the global stage, we’ll take it. We’re all keenly aware with Salah’s importance to Roma, so let’s hope he survives AFCON unscathed. He may not always pick out the right pass, but his speed and agility is nearly unparalleled in the global game.
Now onto the reason you’re all here, Francesco Totti. Er Pupone, at 40-years-young, is among the best 100 football players on earth once again.
You would have needed a heart of stone not to be moved when, in April and a glorious Roma career seemingly winding down in unsatisfactory fashion, Totti came off the bench 86 minutes into a match against Torino and straight away turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win. The celebrations were chaotic and tearful; those two goals were a reminder of the theatre he has brought to the Giallorossi over a period spanning almost two decades and perhaps contributed to his signing a one-year contract in June. That took him past his 40th birthday, celebrated in September, and although Totti is these days used sparingly he appears tempted to carry on further. “Why stop?” he asked last month. “I was taken for finished last year.” Even in cameos, the oldest player on this list remains a master of his era.
That’s a wonderful synopsis, so I won’t really add much to it, except that, with each passing performance he proves that he’s still got it (he’s tied with Paulo Dybala for the league lead in through balls), so I won’t be surprised in the slightest if he comes back. In short doses, Totti remains without equal and the fact that he could have fathered half the names on this list is testament to his unprecedented longevity and excellence.
So, what do we think about these rankings? Too high? Too low? Any other omissions?