England’s The Guardian newspaper has revealed their rankings of the Top 100 Best Male Footballers in the World for 2021, and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski tops the rankings as the world’s best. He is joined in the rankings by six other Bayern players.
This is Lewandowski’s second straight year with the number one ranking in the list, and he holds the spot ahead of Lionel Messi, who was awarded the Ballon d’Or this year. Lewandowski is the second player after Messi (2012, 2013) to win the award in back-to-back years since the award’s inception in 2012.
Here is the top ten:
- Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich - Poland
- Lionel Messi - Paris Saint-Germain - Argentina
- Mohamed Salah - Liverpool - Egypt
- Karim Benzema - Real Madrid - France
- Jorginho - Chelsea - Italy
- Kylian Mbappé - Paris Saint-Germain - France
- Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund - Norway
- Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United - Portugal
- N’Golo Kanté - Chelsea - France
- Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City - Belgium
Here are the rankings of the Bayern players and their explanations:
1 - Robert Lewandowski
The Pole becomes the first player to retain top spot since Lionel Messi in 2013, featuring on every judges’ list this year and topping 115 out of 219 votes cast. And it’s no surprise – his goalscoring feats continue to defy logic. By mid-December he had scored 66 goals in 57 competitive games for club and country. At the end of the 2020-21 season he won his seventh Bundesliga title but Bayern were not able to repeat their Champions League triumph, going out to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals; tellingly Lewandowski was injured for the two games against the French side. The Bayern Munich manager, Julian Nagelsmann, says: “I think Lewy can achieve a lot, also at an older age, because of his physique, lifestyle and the way he lives as a footballer.” He is destined to be back on the list next year, possibly as a winner for a third consecutive year.
18 - Joshua Kimmich
It was a strange year for Kimmich, who was his normal superhuman self for most of the year, even rolling with the punches when moved by Joachim Löw to a hybrid right-wing-back role in an attempt to cover some of Germany’s deficiencies in Euro 2020. Likely to lead for club and country going forward, he then attracted criticism for his publicly expressed vaccine scepticism in the autumn and missed the end of the year with Covid and a lung infection. We can expect him to return strongly in the new year as a central pillar of Bayern’s push to regain the Champions League.
28 - Thomas Müller
At 32, there is little evidence of regression in Müller’s game. If anything he’s peaking, and has had a great 2021 despite Bayern failing to retain their Champions League crown. He celebrated a deserved return to the Germany team and contributed by helping them become the first European nation to qualify for the World Cup finals and is well on course to reach 20 assists (he managed a mere 18 in the Bundesliga last term). Like his teammate Robert Lewandowski, Müller is actually improving in his 30s and his unique, intelligent game shows every sign of ageing well.
36 - Manuel Neuer
One of the world’s premier goalkeepers has slipped 21 places down the list in 2021, paying for some of the defensive disarray in front of him for club and country in the past year. Bayern conceded an uncharacteristically high 44 goals in 34 games on the way to the Bundesliga title, but it would have been many more without Neuer’s interventions. He was frequently stranded during the Euros too, and will be expected to charge off his line plenty with Hansi Flick in charge of the national team. There is no further debate, however, over his position for Bayern or Germany.
41 - Serge Gnabry
The continuing development of Gnabry at 26 is a delight. Spotted and brought in with the aim of helping to fill the Robben-Ribéry gap, he has succeeded by being himself, not only using his pace and dribbling to surge past players from either flank but in being a deadly finisher whose goal output is only going to increase. This was also the year in which he reached 20 goals for Germany; it took him only 30 games, making him the sixth-fastest player to reach the mark for the senior team. Gnabry is almost certain to be a central piece for club and country for the next decade.
42 - Alphonso Davies
Davies was one of the shooting stars of last season’s list, with a levelling out perhaps a natural follow-up to such a dazzling trajectory on Bayern’s triumphant 2020 Champions League campaign. Still learning as a full-time left-back having arrived in Germany as a winger, potentially to succeed Franck Ribéry or even Arjen Robben, he suffered from a few injuries and then had to deal with the departure of his on-pitch mentor, David Alaba. Yet he has emerged in the last part of 2021 as a real leader for Bayern’s defence at only 21, which reminds us just how bright his future is.
64 - Leon Goretzka
Goretzka continues to be at the heart of everything Bayern Munich do. Dropping 24 places from last year’s standing is perhaps a reflection of his team’s loss of their Champions League title, and the injury that ruled the midfielder out of the second leg of the extremely tight quarter-final loss to Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps its deciding factor, underlining his importance. Goretzka also struggled for fitness at the Euros, though his equaliser against Hungary and his defiant message to travelling right-wing ultras immediately afterwards was one of the tournament’s most beautiful moments. He has already been vital for Julian Nagelsmann this season.
The other non-Bayern Germans in the rankings are Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan (35), Chelsea’s Kai Havertz (47) and Antonio Rüdiger (48), and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos (65).
The other non-Bayern Bundesliga players in the rankings are Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland (7) and Jude Bellingham (72), Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrick Schick (79), and RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo (90).