No. 1 Lionel Messi, Argentina/Barcelona
Why he's ranked: As he consistently sets extraordinary standards and surpasses them year after year, Messi's near goal-a-game record has the world excited for what he could do this summer.
Key stat: Messi has more than 40 goals in the past five seasons with Barcelona.
What the experts say: "The best of his era already, he does not need to be world champion to remain the king. When his club understood that the best in the world had to play for someone who is even better, Barcelona won almost everything. Argentina could be along the same path." - Enrique Sacco, ESPN Argentina
"Life, as with football, is full of the ordinary. There are traces of specialness, and then there is the jaw-dropping, adrenaline-pumping rarity of excellence. It's not just what Messi does with a ball; it's how repetitively he does it as more and more defenders try to crowd, kick or knock him off the ball. Invention on legs." - Graham Hunter
What You Think:
- ESPN FC Blogs: Argentina
- Messi's dad: Vomiting not a big deal
- The countdown: Our Top 50 players of the World Cup