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Ranking top 100 players at 2018 World Cup

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Here it is. Pro Soccer Talk has ranked the top 100 players at the 2018 World Cup this summer.

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Trying to whittle this list down to 100 was near on impossible with plenty of incredible players left out of it altogether. That shows us how stacked the tournament in this summer, despite the likes of Chile, Italy and the Netherlands not even qualifying…

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Below is the list in full, broken up into sections of 10 with analysis on each 10.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


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1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
2. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
3. Antoine Griezmann (France)
4. Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
5. Neymar (Brazil)
6. Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)
7. Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
8. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
9. David de Gea (Spain)
10. Harry Kane (England)

Ronaldo just edges Messi given his heroic end to the season at Real Madrid, while Griezmann should deliver once again for France. The top 10 sees one player from 10 different nations, with Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Neymar all carrying the hopes of a nation on their shoulders.


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11. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
12. David Silva (Spain)
13. Luka Modric (Croatia)
14. N’Golo Kante (France)
15. Toni Kroos (Germany)
16. Andres Iniesta (Spain)
17. Eden Hazard (Belgium)
18. Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
19. Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)
20. Kylian Mbappe (France)

This is when we start to see the likes of Spain and Germany having multiple players in the list. Silva and Iniesta will boss games for Spain, while Germany’s solid spine will see Neuer and Kroos star. Watch out for new kids on the block, Gabriel Jesus and Kylian Mbappe.


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21. Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
22. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
23. Thomas Muller (Germany)
24. Paul Pogba (France)
25. Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
26. Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
27.  Christian Eriksen (Denmark)
28. Mats Hummels (Germany)
29. Marcelo (Brazil)
30. Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Three German stars in this section to underline their strength in-depth. A sprinkling of top-class center backs in Vertonghen, Hummels and Ramos highlights with full backs Marcelo and Kimmich completing the defensive theme.


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31. Alisson (Brazil)
32. Diego Costa (Spain)
33. Raheem Sterling (England)
34. Mesut Ozil (Germany)
35. Dele Alli (England)
36. Isco (Spain)
37. Diego Godin (Uruguay)
38. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
39. Casemiro (Brazil)
40. Olivier Giroud (France)

Diego Costa and Isco have the potential to be match winners for Spain, so too do Romelu Lukaku for Belgium, Olivier Giroud for France and Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling for England. Think of this as the “if they turn up, they’ll be game-changers” section.


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41. Sadio Mane (Senegal)
42. Paulo Dybala (Argentina)
43. Raphale Varane (France)
44. Jordi Alba (Spain)
45. Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
46. James Rodriguez (Colombia)
47.  Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
48. Ousmane Dembele (France)
49. Kyle Walker (England)
50. Ivan Rakitic (Croatia)

Plenty of goals and speed from 40-50. Mane will carry Senegal’s hopes, while James will do the same for Colombia. Kyle Walker is one to watch out for. He has the potential to have a great tournament and have a big impact from center back.


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51. Toby Alderweireld (Belgium)
52. Nabil Fekir (France)
53. Angel di Maria (Argentina)
54. Marquinhos (Brazil)
55. Koke (Spain)
56. Nemanja Matic (Serbia)
57. Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
58. Jerome Boateng (Germany)
59. Willian (Brazil)
60. Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

Mexico and Serbia appear for the first time with “Chucky” Lozano set for a breakout tournament for El Tri out wide. Matic will steady Serbia’s ship, while the list of stars just keeps on going for Belgium, Spain, Brazil and Germany.


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61. Leon Goretzka (Germany)
62. Dries Mertens (Belgium)
63. Son Heung-min (South Korea)
64. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
65. Marcus Rashford (England)
66. Mehdi Benatia (Morocco)
67. Javier Hernandez (Mexico)
68. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
69. Saul Niguez (Spain)
70. Sami Khedira (Germany)

This seems like a section filled with stars who usually don’t get to shine. Rashford takes a back seat for England, usually, and the likes of Hernandez, Shaqiri and Mertens go about their jobs with minimal fuss. Goretzka is one to watch as he should feature heavily for Germany.


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71. Roberto Firmino (Brazil)
72. Vincent Kompany (Belgium)
73. Ivan Perisic (Croatia)
74. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia)
75. Julian Draxler (Germany)
76. Thomas Lemar (France)
77.  Fernandinho (Brazil)
78. Mousa Dembele (Belgium)
79. Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
80. Dusan Tadic (Serbia)

Look at the strength of names we still have on this list as we approach 80. Belgium and Brazil continue to have players included, while Serbian playmakers Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic should get them into the knockout rounds.


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81. Pione Sisto (Denmark)
82. Pepe (Portugal)
83. Jesse Lingard (England)
84. Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
85. Paulinho (Brazil)
86. Samuel Umiti (France)
87. Joao Miranda (Brazil)
88. Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)
89. Hector Herrera (Mexico)
90. Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina)

A few of these players can be classed as “breakout stars” with Sisto and Lingard both capable of the sublime moments going forward. Costa Rica stalwarts Navas and Campbell make the list too as they aim for another shock run at the World Cup.


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91. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia)
92. Ederson (Brazil)
93. Iago Aspas (Spain)
94. Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
95. Thiago Alcantara (Germany)
96. Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica)
97. Blas Perez (Panama)
98. Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
99. Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
100. Jose Jimenez (Uruguay)

The final 10 in our top 100 sees some fringe players for the big nations who, if given the chance, should make a splash. Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi will lead the Super Eagles’ attacking unit in a tough group. Watch out for Iago Aspas who has impressed for Spain in recent months, and Mitrovic who is on fire.

Report: Inter Milan, Man United to discuss Lukaku, Perisic deals

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Multiple reports state that Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is set to talk to Inter Milan this week about a swap deal involving Ivan Perisic and cash for Romelu Lukaku.

According to the Daily Mirror, Woodward will meet Inter’s hierarchy in Milan to discuss a swap deal which involves Lukaku and Perisic this summer.

Perisic, 30, has been a long-term target for United and per the report is said to be worth around $45 million. United value Lukaku at $90 million, so Inter would have to let Perisic leave and put about $40 million down to sign Lukaku.

A good deal?

Lukaku, 26, has previously stated he admires Serie A and wants to move to the Italian top-flight, and if he stays at United he will likely play second fiddle to Marcus Rashford. So moving him on and getting in a top quality winger they’ve wanted to sign for some time makes sense.

Perisic doesn’t fit into the young and hungry category that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is after this summer, but his quality speaks for itself. The Croatian international had a superb 2018 World Cup and has been consistently good for Inter, scoring 40 goals in 161 appearances in all competitions since he arrived in 2015.

United need to rebuild their team and Lukaku, aside from his poor 2018-19 campaign, is one of their most valuable assets. If he has another bad season coming up, you can expect his value to half what it currently is.

Pulisic is on an American mission at Chelsea

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Christian Pulisic looks good in Chelsea blue.

The 20-year-old U.S. men’s national team star has arrived at his new club following his $73 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in January, which saw him remain at the Bundesliga club until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Pulisic admitted that he has spoken briefly with Maurizio Sarri and has met up with the Chelsea team, as the USMNT star posed for photos at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to officially announce his move to the Premier League side.

Asked about what he hopes to achieve during his time at Chelsea, Pulisic revealed he wants the wider world to see American players can be stars at the highest level.

“I want to be a part of this team. I want to make it hit in Chelsea and I want to be as big of a part of this team as I can,” Pulisic said. “I want to come in here and I want to score goals and prove to people that American players can do it. For me, in the end, if people can say that about me then I will be very proud. I am already proud to be here but that is my biggest goal.”

The American soccer family will be cheering Pulisic on from across the pond, and no doubt Chelsea are about to get a lot more fans across the USA.

Pulisic is expected to be the main man for the USMNT this summer during their Gold Cup tournament, which will see him link up late with Chelsea’s preseason. That is far from ideal but Pulisic is determined to take his chance in the PL.

“Now I just felt that it was the right step [to join Chelsea]. It was a great time in Dortmund but it was a feeling and I still have that. This is the biggest stage, it is incredible to come in and be in England and part of this league. If you want to prove yourself it is the greatest stage to be on,” Pulisic added.

This feels like a make or break moment in Pulisic’s career. At every step on his journey so far he has passed each hurdle with flying colors. However, with injuries mounting up last season and uncertainty over his future at Dortmund, Pulisic will want to prove any doubters wrong.

Making the step up to the Premier League from the Bundesliga will be a challenge, and doing it at one of the most demanding and ruthless clubs in Europe will also be tough.

But with Eden Hazard likely leaving this summer and both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek going down with serious injuries over the past month, a window of opportunity has opened for Pulisic at the start of next season.

He must hit the ground running at Chelsea both for his own good and to spread the word about what the world can expect from the new crop of American players.

Borussia Dortmund sign Hazard*

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Hazard has signed for Borussia Dortmund from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Thorgan Hazard, of course.

He is the second Hazard brother to make a move this summer after Kylian, 23, moved from Chelsea to Cercle Brugge, and with Eden Hazard linked with a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid in the coming weeks, it could be a hat trick of switches for the Hazard family.

As for Thorgan, 26, his fine form out wide for Monchengladbach in 2018-19 has seen Dortmund snap him up for a fee reported to be $38 million on a five-year contract, as he looks like being a direct replacement for Christian Pulisic who has officially arrived at Chelsea after the end of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season.

Here’s what Thorgan had to say about his arrival at the Westfalenstadion.

Hazard scored 12 goals in 29 appearances across all competitions and has become a regular in the Belgium national team setup alongside his brother, the captain. In his five seasons at Monchengladbach he’s scored 45 goals in 176 games in all competitions and the former Chelsea loanee has certainly carved out a very good career for himself since he made a permanent move from Chelsea to ‘Gladbach in 2015.

Entering the prime of his career, Dortmund will be a great spot for him to develop further and play a leading role in their push to win the Bundesliga next season and make a deep run in the UEFA Champions League.

Off the back of signing Hoffenheim defender Nico Schulz, Dortmund aren’t messing around this summer as they spent almost $30 million to bring in the German defender.

With most of that Pulisic money already spent, Lucien Favre will be able to kick his team on to the next level next season and push Bayern Munich all the way.

Just how wrong? Revisiting Premier League predictions

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Own it.

That’s how I look at Premier League predictions. When you’re right, be happy about your good fortune. When you’re wrong, raise your hand.

But there’s another level to it: Why was I right or wrong? Did a team let me down, or did I vastly overrate/underrate their potential?

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Twenty months ago I pegged Burnley to get relegated with an almost record-low amount of points. The Clarets qualified for the Europa League, and I ate my words (even if Sean Dyche‘s men seemingly out-performed every metric on Earth in spite of stats, like some old man claiming Man City wins because of “better chemistry, not talent”).

Cardiff City
Predicted finish: 20
Actual finish: 18

How wrong was I? Not. As much credit as the Bluebirds got for grinding every week, and as much of a difference as the late Emiliano Sala could’ve been to their fortunes, they completed passes at an almost absurdly-bad 63.9 percent rate while having just 39.1 percent of the ball. It was bad.

Huddersfield Town
Predicted finish: 19
Actual finish: 20

How wrong was I? Not. Huddersfield Town managed a league-worst .4 attempts per game from inside the six-yard box, and were one of only five teams to attempt less than six shots per game from inside the 18.

Watford
Predicted finish: 18
Actual finish: 11

How wrong was I? Pretty wrong. Javi Gracia‘s men were strong against bad teams — for the most part — but never sprung another real upset after beating Spurs to go 4-0 early in the season. Record against the Top Six? 1W-0D-11L.

Bournemouth
Predicted finish: 17
Actual finish: 14

How wrong was I? Eh. The Cherries were never really in trouble thanks to a 6-2-2 start, but man did they ride their luck.

Burnley
Predicted finish: 16
Actual finish: 15

How wrong was I? I’ve learned my lesson. Regardless of how much talent appears to be on a Sean Dyche roster, he’s a rich man’s Tony Pulis and should not be doubted.

The face Sean Dyche makes before he fist fights an entire village. Terrifying. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Southampton
Predicted finish: 15
Actual finish: 16

How wrong was I? With respect to Mark Hughes, I thought Saints’ season would come down to when he was sacked and who they identified to replace him. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s in a good place.

Brighton and Hove Albion
Predicted finish: 14
Actual finish: 17

How wrong was I? A bit wrong, and I pretty much blame Pascal Gross, who back slid from 7 goals and 8 assists in his Premier League debut to just three and three in Year No. 2. The Seagulls didn’t score a single goal from outside the 18.

Wolves
Predicted finish: 13
Actual finish: 7

How wrong was I? It’s not simply about buying players — see: Fulham — but about acquiring hungry players. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, and several others had points to prove, and Jimenez especially made it well.

Newcastle United
Predicted finish: 12
Actual finish: 13

How wrong was I? To be honest, this went about as I expected given the brutal fixture list to start the season. Had I known Miguel Almiron would’ve transitioned so nicely from MLS to the PL, I might’ve had them 10th.

 (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Fulham
Predicted finish: 11
Actual finish: 19

How wrong was I? Very, but to my defense so were most people. On paper, the Cottagers improved more than even Wolves.

Crystal Palace
Predicted finish: 10
Actual finish: 12

How wrong was I? The stats kinda back me up, and it may be worth noting for next season that the Palace’s results didn’t match its performances. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luka Milivojevic, and Wilfried Zaha gave them difference makers in all thirds of the field, and it’s surprising they didn’t push a bit higher on the table.

Leicester City
Predicted finish: 9
Actual finish: 9

How wrong was I? Not. The Foxes were pretty infuriating all year. Maybe Brendan Rodgers‘ ego and power will match the player power that’s run the club since they won the title. That said, the inconsistency and tumult shouldn’t be a surprise in a season the club had to deal with its owner dying on a match day.

West Ham United
Predicted finish: 8
Actual finish: 10

How wrong was I? Not really. I thought it would take Manuel Pellegrini some time to put his men together, but I didn’t predict the Irons would get a total of 37 appearances from Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, and Carlos Sanchez.

Everton
Predicted finish: 7
Actual finish: 8

How wrong was I? It took Marco Silva longer than expected to get his men humming, but think of this: If Jordan Pickford doesn’t give Divock Origi a derby winner, Everton is going to Europe. I know, I know… chaos theory. But still.

Richarlison (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur
Predicted finish: 6
Actual finish: 4

How wrong was I? Like many, I was stunned that Spurs didn’t spend this summer and thought injuries would hurt them. They did, but only to the extent that Tottenham wasn’t able to sustain a title challenge. Spurs rarely gave the ball away, and the only teams that averaged fewer “times dispossessed” than Tottenham’s 9.2 per 90 were teams that never had the ball: Brighton, Cardiff, and Burnley.

Arsenal
Predicted finish: 5
Actual finish: 5

How wrong was I? Spot-on. It was going to take time for the Gunners to come together following a first managerial change in ages, but Arsenal had the offense to challenge for the Top Four. Surprisingly for Arsenal, they averaged just eight dribbles per game, 12th in the PL. Unai Emery had them more cautious than usual.

Chelsea
Predicted finish: 4
Actual finish: 3

How wrong was I? Not. Maurizio Sarri is not for everyone, but he knows how to get results. Granted Gonzalo Higuain was his guy, but he did it without a top striker.

Liverpool
Predicted finish: 3
Actual finish: 2

How wrong was I? Well, considering the Reds had one of the best runners-up finishes of all-time, quite wrong. Mostly, I didn’t expect Mohamed Salah to deliver again and he mostly did (save for a late winter slump).

Manchester United
Predicted finish: 2
Actual finish: 6

How wrong was I? Real wrong. Almost as wrong as United looks for canning Jose Mourinho. The manager needed to leave town, but there was a reason he was playing so packed-in. Ask yourself this: If Ed Woodward gave Mourinho the use of Toby Alderweireld, would Spurs and United be flipped?

Manchester City
Predicted finish: 1
Actual finish: 1

How wrong was I? On point. How good was City? For a club that ranked No. 1 in possession, they were only dispossessed 10.3 times per match. That was the 8th fewest total in the league.