Golazo 100, men's soccer players ranked: Lionel Messi, Bukayo Saka miss top 10 as countdown reaches 20-11



We’re just one day away from revealing the first ever winner of the men’s Golazo 100 and as we unveil the next 10 names on our rankings you can have a pretty clear sense of who will be there or thereabouts when we enter single digits. As for places 20-11, it’s a north London heavy field with three Arsenal representatives alongside a rival from Tottenham. This stage also includes the two burgeoning young hopes of the German national team and the only MLS player to have made the Golazo 100. You’ll never guess who that is…

Tomorrow we’ll deliver the top 10, including our expert panel’s pick for the best player on the planet. For now, however, read on to see the next 10 names in our Golazo 100:

Golazo 100 schedule

Be sure to tune into Golazo Network, including Morning Footy to start your day with a breakdown of each batch of top players released every day. And, of course, make sure to check out the full breakdown and analysis of who was ranked where and why


20. Son Heung-Min — Winger/Forward, Tottenham Hotspur

He may not always command the fanfare that others do, but few players are as universally respected and incredibly liked as Son Heung-Min, arguably Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest signing (if excluding academy products) in the last several decades.

The South Korea international had another standout season in North London, his first after earning the captain’s armband. He scored 17 goals and notched 10 assists, combining well with teammates old and new in a re-invisioned style under manager Ange Postecoglou. Son was amongst the Premier League’s top attacking stars once again during the 2023-24 season, ranking in the top 15 in most attacking categories, and within the top four for assists. He has scored 14-plus goals in all but his first season at Spurs, demonstrating remarkable consistency and emerging as one of the best finishers of his generation.

Tottenham paid a transfer fee of just £22 million for Son’s services in 2015 and nearly a decade later, it’s clear he surpassed expectations. That’s his story in a nutshell — he took a long, globe-trotting journey to the top of the game, becoming both one of the best players in his club’s and country’s history and earning his place amongst the sport’s biggest stars. — Pardeep Cattry

19. Robert Lewandowski — Forward, Barcelona

What is there to say about the Poland international that hasn’t been said before? At 35 years of age, he’s still an elite striker and one of the most consistent that we have ever seen. From every season since 2011-12, he’s scored at least 20 goals, twice hitting at least 50 and hitting 40 six other times. Now, it might feel like things have been quiet from him, but part of that is due to playing at an inconsistent Barcelona side, though he’s already notched a La Liga trophy in his two seasons at the club. Firmly in Real Madrid‘s shadow, he hasn’t slowed down at all while in Spain. He’s got 59 goals at Barca in 95 games, and he’s closing in on 600 career club goals. Already Poland’s top scorer (82 goals), he’s got 34 more than the next player. All that’s left for him is international success for his country, but that’s easier said than done. Regardless of if it happens or not, he’s one of the greatest strikers of the last couple decades, and with a couple more top-level seasons, you can put him up in the conversation as one of the greatest and most prolific strikers that we’ve ever seen. — Roger Gonzalez

18. Jamal Musiala — Midfield, Bayern Munich

One of the new young stars of the Germany national team will be looking to put the disappointment of the club season with Bayern Munich behind him this summer as he targets becoming a national hero. Jamal Musiala might only be 21 yet he plays with the maturity of a veteran and it feels as if he has already been around for more or less a full career despite only breaking through with the Bavarian giants in 2020 and still playing with the Bundesliga outfit’s second string side until 2021. With 12 goals and seven assists across all competitions, things could have been much worse at an individual level and even Kylian Mbappe said recently that you learn more as young players from adversity than you do by simply winning each and every time. That is perhaps what Bayern must come to terms with most under new new boss Vincent Kompany and Musiala will certainly be key to the Belgian’s attempt to turn around the falling giant of German soccer. — Jonathan Johnson

17. Martin Odegaard — Midfield, Arsenal

The standard bearer for the Arsenal revolution, at just 25 years of age it could be argued that Martin Odegaard has already fulfilled the potential that made him one of the most coveted teens in the world a decade ago. The last two seasons have seen him weigh in with the second most open play chances created and third most expected assists in Europe’s top four leagues. Unlike so many other number 10s he is the sort who can lead a ferocious press too. In England, Spain, Germany and Italy, Bruno Fernandes has the second most possession regains in the attacking third since the start of 2022-23 with 71. Odegaard has 90.

He may not have got to lift the biggest silverware so far in his career but when you observe his combination of steely determination and on ball elegance it is hard to shake the sense that it is a matter of when, not if, captain Odegaard and his Arsenal charges take the final step. James Benge

16. Bernardo Silva — Winger/Midfield, Manchester City

Type Bernardo Silva underrated into Google News and you will find at least 30 results, perhaps more, from recent years. Even this continual cry that the Portuguese international isn’t getting his flowers seems grossly insufficient. For seven years he has been a constant in Manchester City’s excellence, a player of such versatility that Pep Guardiola has trusted him everywhere from left back to center forward. Every Silva observer will have a favorite version of the great man, for this particular writer it does not get better than him floating across the left flank, merry mayhem following in his wake.

Guardiola rarely stints in praise for his players but when he describes Silva you know he is particularly taken. “I could stay here and talk for 10 minutes on what Bernardo Silva means for me and our team,” said the City boss in October. “He is a player that is beyond good in all departments – solidarity, intelligence, he understands everything. We are in love with him.” — James Benge

15. Florian Wirtz — Midfield, Bayer Leverkusen

In the summer of 2020 Bayer Leverkusen had nearly $100 million to spend on a replacement for Kai Havertz, the best homegrown player the club had produced in two decades. They didn’t need to spend a cent to find a player who four years later would be the outstanding player in one of the greatest teams the Bundesliga has ever seen, German football’s first Invincibles. Wirtz was the X-factor, 18 goals and 20 assists in 49 games across all competitions, the man whose vision and understanding of space brought the best out of those around him.

On the ball, Wirtz has the feel of an old-fashioned number 10. His team mates can’t help but entrust him with possession, knowing that he will be the one to crack open low blocks. It is early days yet to know if his shooting form will hold, but when opportunities open up for Wirtz, he tends to take them. Then there is the industry of his off-ball pressing. This is a player who loves the scraps, his angelic demeanor hiding a more impudent side to him. A superstar already, it is only a matter of time before he lands at Manchester City, Real Madrid or another hyper-club. When he does they will surely give him the same responsibility Xabi Alonso has. — James Benge

14. Declan Rice — Midfield, Arsenal

Limited though the history of nine figure transfer fees might be, such lofty expenditure rarely comes with guarantees of success. If anything, it would appear that the weight of expectations crushes players of real talent. Not Declan Rice. There’s a reason Arsenal fans chant that they got him half-price at £105 million. 

The expectation was that the former West Ham captain would add a little more solidity to a backline that had been vulnerable to transitions and clumsy errors. Rice offers them that in spades, his muscular running and immaculate vision for where the game is heading allowing him to blot out counters before they have even begun. What Arsenal might not have seen coming is the goal contributions, dramatic late winners against Manchester United and Luton Town, coupled with suprising passing chops he displayed with a brilliant assist against Bournemouth. Rice has made his new club a much more effective outfit in attack and defense. At any price, that’s a bargain. — James Benge

13. Antoine Griezmann — Forward, Atletico Madrid

Even at 33 years of age, the France international was able to post one of the most complete seasons of his career this past campaign with Atletico Madrid by contributing 24 goals and seven assists for Diego Simeone’s men. Antoine Griezmann could also star for Les Bleus in Germany this summer at UEFA Euro 2024 less than two years on from his star turn at the FIFA 2022 World Cup which led all the way to the final. The former Real Sociedad man is arguably seeing the benefits of the enforced rest that his costly return from Barcelona entailed and his longevity at international level was only recently curtailed by injury at this very late stage in his career which is testament to his peak physical form and professional approach. We are also now witnessessing Griezmann not only as a complete player who is also capable of remarkable versatility but also as a leader for both club and country which could be further emphasized on German soil this summer. — Jonathan Johnson

12. Lionel Messi — Forward, Inter Miami

The greatest player of all-time. About to turn 37, playing in MLS, and he’s still this high on the list. If that doesn’t describe his greatness, do you need something else? After leading Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar, he finished his time with PSG and made that move to Inter Miami where he has, as expected, made defenders look like children. He’s got 25 goals in 29 games for the Herons and needs just five more to become the club’s all-time leading scorer. He led them to their first trophy ever last summer, they are one of the favorites to win the Leagues Cup again, they have as good a shot as anybody to win MLS Cup, and he even had a game this season where he had five assists in one half … he also scored in that half. In the shadow of Maradona and Pele for not having achieved international glory, he’s got that World Cup triumph, and Copa America title, and he’s going for another one this summer. It really doesn’t matter what Argentina do in that competition or in the World Cup in 2026 — he’s proven to be the greatest to ever do it, and he continues to make a case as being the best player in the world. All the greats — Michael Jordan in basketball, Tom Brady in football — they’ve all had to adjust their game as Father Time approached, and just as the GOATS do, he’s been able to reinvent himself through intelligence and experience to remain at the very top of his game. — Roger Gonzalez

11. Bukayo Saka — Right Wing, Arsenal

It was December 16, 2020. Arsenal’s winless league run had extended into its sixth game, a tame 1-1 draw against Southampton. Bukayo Saka, then just 19, felt compelled to explain himself. “You deserve more Arsenal fans”, he tweeted, the broken heart emoji reflecting the sheer devastation that the man they called ‘little chilli’ shared with the rest of the fanbase. “We don’t but you do,” was the response of many for a player whose early career was to be forged through setbacks, not just tough early seasons for his boyhood club but that penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final and all that came with it.

Saka carries an almighty weight of expectations. The face of Arsenal for years now, barring injury he will cross the 250 appearance mark for his club well before his 24th birthday — hang around long enough and it is not inconceivable that David O’Leary’s all time appearance record will be Saka’s. In all those games, it is hard to think of one where he has looked to be taking it easy, to be coasting his way through the thundering challenges that seem to hit him every time he takes to the pitch. Saka knows that if he plays for the badge on the front of his shirt, supporters will never forget the name on the back. Already an Arsenal legend, north London immortality beckons in the years ahead. — James Benge





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