Football’s Top 50 Players of 2012

A chart of the top 50 players in Football at the end of 2012.

The 2012 season is over and we’re already looking forward to 2013.

But as we look back on what was an amazing year full of twists, turns and amazing moments, it’s time to reveal our top 50 players from the season that was.

With a new panel of experts, they’ve ranked the best players in order from 50-1. The voting criteria are simple: Who would you most like to have on your team? A player’s form over the past 12 months only is taken into account, their long-term injury problems ignored for a moment.

It’s time to reveal who made up our top 25.

The NFL Network released its annual countdown of the league’s Top 100 Players of 2012, as voted on by players in the league.

The series began on Sunday night and will conclude on Wednesday night’s finale, where the top 10 players will be revealed. The list was compiled by asking players to rank each other from 1-100, with 100 representing the top vote-getter and 1 representing the worst.

Players were ranked based solely on their performance for the 2011 season.

The list so far:

1.) Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB

2.) Tom Brady, Patriots QB

3.) Drew Brees, Saints QB

4.) Calvin Johnson, Lions WR

5.) Ray Lewis, Ravens LB

6.) Patrick Willis, 49ers LB

7.) Troy Polamalu, Steelers S

8.) Peyton Manning, Broncos QB

9.) Darrelle Revis, Jets CB

10.) Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

3. Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)

4. Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

5. Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)

6. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

7. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)

8. Andrea Pirlo (Juventus/AC Milan)

9. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

10. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

11. Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

12. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain/AC Milan)

13. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

14. Robin van Persie (Manchester United/Arsenal)

15. Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)

16. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)

17. Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid/Arsenal)

18. Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich/Fiorentina)

19. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

20. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

1. Lionel Messi: The 24-year-old Argentine is the best player in the world, and it’s not even close. After a 2011 so disappointing that he finished 10th in our rankings (his worst showing ever), Messi roared back with a vengeance this year, claiming his fourth consecutive world player of the year award and leading Barcelona to two more trophies. He’s now won five straight Spanish league titles, two Champions League crowns and an Olympic gold medal — all before turning 25. His achievements have been so great that he has single-handedly rewritten what we consider possible for an attacking player. A comparison: Through age 23, Messi had scored 268 goals for Barcelona; by comparison, Pelé had scored 244 for Santos and Diego Maradona 181 for Boca Juniors through age 23. Messi still trails Pelé in total silverware (Pelé had four World Cups to Messi’s one gold medal), but with each passing week he inches ever closer to football immortality.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo: Few players can match Ronaldo’s pace or power, which makes him nearly impossible to stop when he gets going. He can score from anywhere on the field, on either foot or with his head. His first touch is impeccable, and his finishing is as

1. Leo Messi, Barcelona

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

3. Andres Iniesta, Barcelona

4. Xavi, Barcelona

5. Sergio Busquets, Barcelona

6. Iker Casillas, Real Madrid

7. Falcao, Atletico Madrid

8. Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid

9. Javi Martinez, Bayern Munich/Athletic Bilbao

10. Juan Mata, Chelsea

Rank|Name|Pos.|Team|

1 | Tom Brady | QB | Patriots

2 | Aaron Rodgers | QB | Packers

3 | Drew Brees | QB | Saints

4 | Rob Gronkowski | TE | Patriots

5 | Calvin Johnson | WR | Lions

6 | Larry Fitzgerald | WR | Cardinals

7 | Maurice Jones-Drew RB Jaguars

8 Arian Foster RB Texans

9 Eli Manning QB Giants

10 Rob Ninkovich DE/OLB Patriots

11 Troy Polamalu S Steelers

12 Matthew Stafford QB Lions

13 Tony Romo RB Patriots

14 Dwayne Bowe WR Chiefs

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