Football News

World XI revealed: FIFPro announce 23-man squad for 2021’s best players

By Ben Green

Published: 17:11, 14 December 2021

FIFPro have revealed their 23-man shortlist of the world’s best footballers for 2021 and there are one or two notable omissions.

The biggest is perhaps Mohamed Salah, who is one of only four players in 2021 to register over 20 goals and over 10 assists in Europe’s top five leagues.

His return of 23 finishes and 11 assists puts him fourth for most direct goal contributions for that particular metric, behind only Kylian Mbappe (35, 24 goals and 11 assists), Lionel Messi (36, 24 goals and 12 assists) and Karim Benzema (39, 28 goals and 11 assists).

FIFA named their 23-man squad of football’s best players on Tuesday afternoon, with PSG, Chelsea and Barcelona all enjoying the biggest representation of any club (four apiece). Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Real Madrid had two each, while Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Bayern Munich all had one inclusion.

The squad was voted for by the players themselves and will be condensed into the ‘World XI’ next month during The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony. The Premier League contingent was prominent this year, with 10 of the 23 listed currently playing in England.

Champions League winners Chelsea saw Edouard Mendy, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Romelu Lukaku all included, while Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo made the cut for Man Utd; Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker got in for Liverpool; and Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias received the nod for City.

Perhaps surprisingly, 38-year-old Dani Alves made it into the squad, with the eight-time ‘World XI’ inductee recently leaving Sao Paulo in his homeland and returning to Barcelona, whom he is yet to play for since making that sensational Camp Nou reunion.

For the first time in nearly two decades, FIFA have moved away from their usual 55-man shortlist and opted for a more truncated selection process to mimic the real-life scenario of a club playing squad, before eventually whittling down the nominees to a combined ‘World XI’.

Twelve of the 23 selected have actually been named in the ‘World XI’ before. Alisson, Alexander-Arnold and De Bruyne all made it into 2020’s edition, while Messi and Ronaldo are naturally regulars in this domain, placing in the annual team 14 times each.

World XI: FIFPro’s 23-man squad

Player Club Nation
Alisson Becker Liverpool Brazil
Gianluigi Donnarumma AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain Italy
Edouard Mendy Chelsea Senegal
David Alaba Bayern Munich/Real Madrid Austria
Jordi Alba Barcelona Spain
Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool England
Dani Alves Sao Paulo/Barcelona Brazil
Leonardo BonucciΒ  Juventus Italy
Ruben Dias Man City Portugal
Sergio Busquets Barcelona Spain
Kevin De Bruyne Man City Belgium
Bruno Fernandes Man Utd Portugal
Frenkie de Jong Barcelona Netherlands
Jorginho Chelsea Italy
N’Golo Kante Chelsea France
Karim Benzema Real Madrid France
Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus/Man Utd Portugal
Erling Haaland Borussia Dortmund Norway
Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich Poland
Romelu Lukaku Inter Milan/Chelsea Belgium
Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain France
Lionel Messi Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain Argentina
Neymar Paris Saint-Germain Brazil

Salah, who is yet to place in the ‘World XI’, will be once again be overlooked for a coveted spot in next month’s team after he was snubbed for the 23-man squad, leading to plenty of confused fans and pundits, particularly as Alves got the nod…