‘The next big thing’
How many times have you heard that?
At IBWM, we thought long and hard about compiling a comprehensive directory of the most exciting young players in world football. It is, after all, always good to have a handle on where the next global superstar is coming from, don’t you think?
But we decided not to.
Each year (up until this one, ironically) the Spanish football publication Don Balon fastidiously collated their own record of the 100 best young (aged 23 and under) players on the planet and, to be frank, we could do absolutely nothing to improve on this. So we won’t even try.
The list always included a good mix of names that we knew, but also lots that we wanted to know more about. For every Theo Walcott, there would be a Bo-Kyung Kim. Don Balon called the best 100 as they saw it, and we liked that. It was concise, well thought out and had a real global feel.
As each year passed, we were always interested to see which players were really blossoming and who had become ensnared in a spiral of terminal decline. However, no website or publication ever really chronicled this, not even Don Balon themselves.
The seed of an idea was planted.
We’ve taken the final Don Balon list, which was published in November 2010, and spent the last few months reviewing how the last year has panned out for each of the players included on it. The 100 is the outcome of our review.
We’ve recorded our observations and opinions - for what they are worth - and asked a number of individuals whose opinion matters to us to provide a view. We also invited our wonderful twitter followers to offer an angle on how the year has worked out for each of the 100 players and selected the best assessments for publication.
Each player also receives a mark based on their development over the last twelve months. Just like an end of term school report, a grade from A to E is awarded. There’s no great science here, there’s no 7/10 for tackling, 9/10 for stamina etc, just a straight call from us. We’re not experts on every player; we’ve just taken a good look and made a judgement on how things have gone.
The assessments are designed to provoke debate. Have we been too harsh on Mario Balotelli? Too easy on Holger Badstuber? Talking garbage on Jack Rodwell, or making sense with Davide Santon? That’s up to you and we really look forward to your comments, tweets and opinions. Hopefully you’ll want to be involved.
We decided not to hit you with 100 players in one batch; instead IBWM will deliver twenty different names each week for five weeks. You might already know every player listed, but some may be new to you.
You can access the first instalment of The 100, with an explanation of our marking, here:
ENTER THE 100
Enjoy, and be sure to let us know what you think.