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8. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Manuel Neuer is still the best goalkeeper in the world, though the ageless Gianluigi Buffon isn’t far behind. Still, the 31-year-old Neuer is the benchmark for modern keepers as his run for club and country over the last seven years has been incredible.
Bayern has won five straight Bundesliga titles with Neuer as its backstop, and Germany took home the 2014 World Cup with him in net. Along the way Neuer has won UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year four times (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015), IFFHS’s World’s Best Goalkeeper four times (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), a World Cup Golden Glove (2014) and three-straight Bundesliga Team of the Year selections. He also finished third for the Ballon d'Or in 2014, an amazing accomplishment for a keeper.
Neuer is incredible with the ball at his feet, as a distributor and his reaction time is also unbelievable. A modern “sweeper-keeper,” the German has ideal size at 6’4″ and should age gracefully.
He’s the best in the world at what he does, his inclusion on this list was a must.
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7. Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil)
The second-highest defender on this list, Marcelo’s selection is sure to create some controversy. But there is no better playmaker in the world coming forward from the back line. The 29-year-old just finished his 11th season at Real Madrid, capping it off with his fifth La Liga championship, third Champions League title and was named to the Champions League Team of the Season for the second-straight year.
As far as individual awards go, Marcelo was on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2014, the FIFPro World XI three times (2012, 2015, 2016), the ESM Team of the Year the last two seasons, and La Liga’s Team of the Season for 2015-16. While his aggressive, attacking approach from the left back spot can get him in trouble defensively, the magic he produces on a regular basis outweighs those problems.
Real and Brazil can always rely upon him both going forward and defending. The guy shows up to every match and makes something happen. He’s almost certainly the most skilled defender in the world. While some may claim I’m overvaluing him, what he did during Real’s march to the Champions League title last season was nothing short of spectacular.