Evertonians Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines are listed among Europe’s top 50 players in a ranking by Bloomberg Sports that rates players based on new performance statistics. Fellaini comes in at 12th place; Baines at 16th. Liverpool star Luis Suarez slots in between the two at 15th place. Former Everton players Wayne Rooney and Mikel Arteta are listed at 26th and 46th, respectively.
These rankings are only as good as the underlying performance statistics, about which I’m trying to learn more. But the top 50 list generally passes the straight fact test. For example, the top 10, listed below, all would have made my top 20, and the top 5 all would have made my top 10:
1. Lionel Messi
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
3. Frank Ribery
4. Marco Reus
5. Andrea Pirlo
6. Robin Van Persie
7. Giorgio Chiellini
8. Marek Hansik
9. Gareth Bale
10. Santi Cazorla
There a few oddities. For example, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for my money the best player in the French League, comes in at only 23th, while Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons is rated 13th. I see Ibrahimovic as top 10 material, while midfielder Gonalons barely makes the top 50 in the French League (goalies excluded) according to ratings by the well-respected magazine France Football.
And while I’m a Arteta fan, I don’t think he’s Euro top 50 material these days. Nor do I believe that Fellaini quite belongs in the top 20, though he has that much potential.
One more note. 21 of the top 50 players are age 25 or under. This comports with my impression that European soccer is blessed with amazing amount of young stars.