No. 32 Luka Modric, Real Madrid/Croatia
Why he's ranked: Cool on the ball and seemingly always able to create time and space in which to weave his magic, the Croatian was a target of a host of top European clubs before Real Madrid paid 33 million pounds to sign him in August 2012. His physique might look a little frail, but this creative maestro is as strong as he is skillful.
Key stat: Modric led all Real Madrid players with 1,808 completed passes in 2013-14 La Liga season.
What the experts say: "He is the thermometer of every team he plays for, the man responsible for the temperature of the game going up or slowing down the rhythm." - Paulo Vinicius Coelho, ESPN Brazil
"The most impressive thing about Luka Modric is his adaptability -- he can play as a no. 10, from the left or in a deep-lying position. In that final role at Real Madrid this season, he demonstrated what an all-rounder he is too -- not just a pretty passer but also someone who can run, fight, scrap and tackle. However, he's still at his best with the ball; perhaps not the most incisive passer, but the man who will assist the assistor, and therefore perfect for Croatia's system." - Michael Cox