No. 23 Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid/Argentina
Why he's ranked: Di Maria looked set to leave Real Madrid last summer, as Arsenal and Tottenham were linked to moves to bring him to the Premier League, but he has stayed in the Spanish capital and contributed plenty to a thrilling season orchestrated by boss Carlo Ancelotti. Full of verve and commitment down the flanks, he is also a deadly finisher when he gets an opportunity in the box.
Key stat: Di Maria leads La Liga with 15 assists through May 16.
What the experts say: "His penetrative ability, dynamism and speed are attributes that are rare and coveted in modern soccer. Messi is not alone for Argentina after all. Di Maria should shine bright in Brazil." - Jose Antonio Cortes, ESPN Deportes
"Before this season, he was already a world-class player, with sufficient speed to charge down the line as old wingers did and tremendous accuracy to assist his teammates. When Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid, Di Maria was forced to push his game further, which he did: He has added defensive duties to his portfolio and grown more mature after surviving the psychological challenge. If he can stay on his feet when he ventures into the box, where he prefers fiction to fact, he can be as deadly as any of his mates in a four-pronged attack [of] Messi, Aguero and Higuain." - Roberto Martinez, ESPN Argentina