15 Cies Football Observatory Best Players of All Time

Andrew Kovacs

The CIES Football Observatory is an independent research organization located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It provides a unique insight into the world of football through its cutting-edge statistical studies.

Its research team analyses the different aspects of the game, ranging from player transfers and contracts, to team performances, to the financial aspect of the sport.

The team provides a comprehensive look into the ever-changing landscape of football, and its results are used by clubs and organizations around the world.

The CIES Football Observatory is a valuable source of information and has become an essential tool for understanding the modern game.

Table of Contents

1. Erling Haaland

Manchester City F.C.

Erling Haaland Career

  • 2005–2016: Bryne
  • 2015–2016: Bryne 2
  • 2016–2017: Bryne
  • 2017: Molde 2
  • 2017–2019: Molde
  • 2019–2020: Red Bull Salzburg
  • 2020–2022: Borussia Dortmund
  • 2022: Manchester City
  • 2015: Norway U15
  • 2016: Norway U16
  • 2017: Norway U17
  • 2017: Norway U18
  • 2018: Norway U19
  • 2019: Norway U20
  • 2018: Norway U21
  • 2019: Norway

Erling Braut Haaland is a professional footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester City. Haaland was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England on 21 July 2000 and started playing football at the age of seven with Bryne Boys Club.

He made his senior debut for Bryne in 2016 and signed for Manchester City in 2019. 

Haaland has represented Norway at the youth level, making five appearances between 2015 and 2017 before being called up to the full national team in 2018.

Erling Haaland is a Norwegian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Molde and the Norway national team. He made his debut for Molde in 2014 and has since played 146 league games and 21 internationals. 

In May 2019, he was named in Norway's squad for the World Cup qualification campaign. Erling Haaland helped Molde win the 2017 Norwegian Premier League championship, and reached the Europa League group stage in 2018–19 with Manchester City. 

He was born on 7 February 1995 in Drammen to parents Tor-Erik Haaland and Liv Marit Sandviken, both of whom are footballers themselves.

Father Tor-Erik also played internationally for Norway between 1992–94 while mother Liv represented Iceland at the youth level before switching allegiances to her country of birth.

Also Played For: molde fk, youth soccer

2. Phil Foden

Manchester City F.C.

Phil Foden Career

  • 2009–2017: Manchester City
  • 2017: Manchester City
  • 2015–2016: England U16
  • 2016–2017; England U17
  • 2017–2018: England U18
  • 2018: England U19
  • 2018–2019: England U21
  • 2020: England

Phil Foden is a young English midfielder who currently plays for Manchester City. Phil made his senior debut in 2017 and has since played 114 games for the club.

He has represented England at the U16 level and was part of the side that won the European Championships in 2015. 

In addition to playing football, Phil is also a keen cricketer, having represented Cheshire County Cricket Club since he was 12 years old.

Phil is considered one of Manchester City's most promising young players, and looks set to continue developing into an excellent midfield player Phil Foden is an English professional footballer who most recently played for Manchester City and the England national team.

At 17 years old, Phil became the youngest player to ever feature in a Premier League match when he made his debut for Manchester City against Sunderland aged just 18 minutes old. 

He has since gone on to make over 150 appearances for club and country scoring 53 goals in total, making him one of the most prolific young players in world football today.

Phil was part-way through his first season at Manchester City when he won the 2017 U17 World Cup with England, defeating Spain 3-1 in the final to become champions of Europe for a second time. 

In addition to winning international silverware with England at various age groups, Phil also lifted trophies with hometown club Everton before moving on to Man City where he has established himself as one of Europe's top performers both domestically and internationally alike.

Having already signed a new long-term contract with Man City prior to joining up with England ahead of this year's UEFA European Under-21 Championship, there is no doubt that Phil Foden is firmly entrenched as one of English football’s brightest prospects going forward.

Also Played For: united kingdom soccer,

3. Rúben Dias

Manchester City F.C.

Rúben Dias Career

  • 2006–2008: Estrela da Amadora
  • 2008–2015: Benfica
  • 2015–2017: Benfica B
  • 2017–2020: Benfica
  • 2020: Manchester City
  • 2013: Portugal U16
  • 2013–2014: Portugal U17
  • 2014–2016: Portugal U19
  • 2016–2017: Portugal U20
  • 2017: Portugal U21
  • 2018: Portugal

Rúben Dias is a 25-year-old centre back who currently plays for Manchester City. Rúben Dias started his career at Estrela da Amadora before moving to Benfica in 2015.

Rúben Dias has played 55 times for Benfica B and scored zero goals. Rúben Dias joined Manchester City in 2017 and made his debut the following year against Chelsea FC, playing the full 90 minutes.

On 20 May 2019, he helped City win their first ever Premier League title by scoring a dramatic late goal against Liverpool FC.

After helping Manchester City win their second Premier League title in 2018–19, as well as being named PFA Players' Player of the Year, Rúben dos Santos was named in Portugal's squad for the 2020 European Championship.

He made his international debut on 10 June 2020 during a 3–1 victory over Hungary, and went on to play all four of Portugal's matches at the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament including their final match which they lost 1–0 to France.

Rúben dos Santos has also represented Portugal at U17, U20, and U23 levels Born in 1992, Rúben Dias is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a winger for Benfica and the Portugal national team.

A product of Porto's youth academy, Dias made his senior debut in 2012 and has since gone on to make over 200 appearances for the club. 

In 2017 he joined Portugal's U21 side and went on to make four appearances before being called up to the full squad shortly after Euro 2020 qualifying began. 

At the international level, Dias has been part of the Portuguese squad that has won two Nations League titles and reached two European Championships finals (2016 & 2020). 

Known for his pace, trickery, and crossing ability from wide areas, Dias is seen as one of Portugal's most promising young players going into the future.

Also Played For: portugal football team, sl benfica

4. Pedri

FC Barcelona

Pedri Career

  • 2015–2018: Juventud Laguna
  • 2018–2019: Las Palmas
  • 2019–2020: Las Palmas
  • 2020: Barcelona
  • 2019: Spain U17
  • 2019: Spain U18
  • 2020: Spain U19
  • 2020: Spain U21
  • 2021: Spain U23
  • 2021: Spain

Pedri is a Spanish midfielder who currently plays for Barcelona. Pedri started his career with La Liga side Tegueste, before moving to Las Palmas in 2018.

In 2019, Pedri made his senior debut for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey against Atlético Madrid. 

Pedri has also represented Spain at Under-16 and Under-17 level, as well as appearing for the U19s during their victorious campaign at UEFA European Championship this year.

Known for his powerful midfield play, Pedri is expected to be an important player for Barça over the coming seasons Pedri is a versatile footballer who can play as either an attacking midfielder or winger.

Pedri has represented Spain at both the U17 and U18 levels, before making his senior debut in 2020. The 21-year-old has since gone on to make four appearances for the national team, including one during the Olympic Games in 2020. 

Pedri is currently contracted to Las Palmas but is rumoured to be close to joining Barcelona in 2019/20 season. With solid performances in La Liga and European competition, Pedri looks set for a long international career ahead of him.

Also Played For: spanish fut, la liga

5. Jude Bellingham

Borussia Dortmund

Jude Bellingham Career

  • 2010–2019: Birmingham City
  • 2019–2020: Birmingham City
  • 2020: Borussia Dortmund
  • 2016–2018: England U15
  • 2018–2019: England U16
  • 2019: England U17
  • 2020: England U21
  • 2020: England

Jude Bellingham is a young English midfielder who currently plays for Borussia Dortmund. Jude started his career with Birmingham City before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020.

Jude has impressed during his time at Borussia Dortmund, and was part of the team that won the German Cup in 2019. 

Jude is known for his explosive attacking play and impressive passing range, which makes him an important member of the midfield unit.

With a promising future ahead of him, there are few players more deserving of recognition than Jude Bellingham. 

Jude Bellingham is a talented young footballer who has been playing for Birmingham City in the English Premier League. 

Jude has represented England at youth international level and is looking to make his senior debut soon.

He was named runner-up in UEFA's European Championship this year, which shows just how good he is. Jude is highly rated by scouts and will no doubt be one of the stars of the future if he continues to develop at such a pace. 

Keep an eye out for Jude - he could well be on his way to becoming one of the best footballers in the world.

Also Played For: football manager 2020, football manager 2021

6. Vini Jr.

Brazil national football team

Vini Jr. Career

  • 2005–2017: Flamengo
  • 2017–2018: Flamengo
  • 2018: Real Madrid
  • 2018: Real Madrid 
  • 2015–2016: Brazil U15
  • 2016–2017: Brazil U17
  • 2018–2019: Brazil U20
  • 2019: Brazil

Vinícius Jr. is a winger for Real Madrid and was born in Brazil in 2000. He began his career with Flamengo before joining Real Madrid in 2018. Vinícius Jr has made 32 appearances for Real Madrid, scoring seven goals so far this season.

Vini Jr. is a Brazilian attacking midfielder who has played for both the Brazil U-17 and U-20 national teams. 

Vini Jr. was born in Rio de Janeiro on 4 December 1997, making him one of the youngest players to compete at a senior international level.

In 2018, he joined Spanish side Real Madrid B on loan from Brazilian club Flamengo until the end of the season; his performances with Real Madrid led to speculation linking him with moves away from Flamengo in 2019 and 2020. 

Vini Jr.'s pace, dribbling ability and passing accuracy have seen him compared favorably to former Fluminense player Rivaldo, while his hard work off the ball also sets him apart from many other midfielders.

While he has yet to make an appearance for Brazil's full international team - due largely to being ineligible for participation while still playing for Flamengo - Vini Jr.'s presence at youth levels has helped propel Brazil into contention for major tournaments such as Copa America and World Cup qualification.

Also Played For: brazil barcelona best football players, spain young

7. Alphonso Davies

FC Bayern Munich

Alphonso Davies Career

  • 2015–2016: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • 2016: Whitecaps FC 2
  • 2016–2018: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • 2018–2019: Bayern Munich II
  • 2019: Bayern Munich
  • 2016: Canada U17
  • 2016: Canada U20
  • 2017: Canada 3

Alphonso Davies was born on November 2, 2000 in Buduburam, Ghana. He has played for Edmonton Internationals and Bayern Munich since the age of 16. Alphonso Davies is a left-back and winger for Bayern Munich.

In 2019, he helped Bayern Munich win the German Cup and reach the Champions League Final. Alphonso Davies has been called up to represent Ghana at various youth levels including U20 World Cup qualifiers in October 2018.

Alphonso Davies is considered one of the most talented young footballers in Europe and his future looks very promising.

Alphonso Davies is a young, talented Canadian footballer who has been impressing in the German second division with Bayern Munich II. 

Alphonso Davies started his career at Vancouver Whitecaps FC before moving to Bayern Munich II this season.

He has already made 11 appearances for the Whitecaps FC 2 team and scored two goals. Alphonso Davies is a versatile player who can play as either a forward or winger, which gives him an advantage over other players on his level.

Alphonso Davies has drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi and Neymar due to his talent and ability to score goals both individually and as part of teams. 

Alphonso Davies is likely only going to improve further as he moves up the ranks in football, so watch out for him in the near future.

Also Played For: vancouver whitecaps fc, concacaf

8. Frenkie de Jong

FC Barcelona

Frenkie de Jong Career

  • 2003–2005: ASV Arkel
  • 2005–2009: RKC
  • 2005–2015: Willem II
  • 2015: Willem II
  • 2015–2017: Jong Ajax
  • 2016–2019: Ajax
  • 2019: Barcelona
  • 2012: Netherlands U15
  • 2014–2015: Netherlands U18
  • 2015–2016: Netherlands U19
  • 2016: Netherlands U20
  • 2017: Netherlands U21
  • 2018: Netherlands

Frenkie de Jong is a Dutch midfielder who currently plays for Barcelona. De Jong was born in Gorinchem, Netherlands on May 12th 1997 and started his career with ASV Arkel before moving to RKC in 2005.

He made his professional debut for Willem II in 2015 and has since played a total of 142 games for the club, scoring 22 goals along the way. 

In July 2019, it was announced that De Jong had signed a 5-year contract extension with Barcelona which will keep him at the club until 2021.

Dejong has represented Holland at U19 level as well as making 3 appearances for their U21 side; he also scored 2 goals during this time. 

Outside of football, Frenkie likes spending time with friends and family, playing video games and going out drinking - something which he attributes to his healthy lifestyle habits off the pitch.

Frenkie de Jong is a talented footballer who has represented his country at various levels. He has already made an impact in the Netherlands with Ajax and subsequently Barcelona, where he has been a key player. 

De Jong is highly-rated both domestically and internationally, and looks set to continue his impressive career for some time to come.

Also Played For: football manager 2022, jong ajax

9. Mason Mount

Chelsea F.C.

Mason Mount Career

  • 2005–2017: Chelsea
  • 2017: Chelsea 127 (27)
  • 2017–2018: Vitesse (loan)
  • 2018–2019: Derby County (loan)
  • 2014–2015: England U16
  • 2015–2016: England U17
  • 2016–2017: England U18
  • 2017–2018: England U19
  • 2018–2019: England U21
  • 2019: England

Mason Mount is an English attacking midfielder who joined Chelsea in 2017. Mason Mount has played for Chelsea since 2017 and made 121 appearances during that time.

Mason Mount is a central midfielder who can also play as an attacking midfielder, which gives him a great range of skills to use on the pitch. 

Mason Mount was loaned out to Vitesse in 2018 where he impressed with nine appearances before returning to Chelsea later that year Mason Mount is an English professional footballer who currently plays for Derby County in the Premier League.

Mount made his debut for Derby County in a 4-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on 8 August 2018, aged 18 years and 347 days old. 

He has also represented England at youth level, playing at UEFA European Championship and UEFA Under-19 Championship tournaments. 

Mason Mount has been described as "a fast player with good vision" by manager Gary Rowett, and is seen as a potential successor to Frank Lampard as captain of Derby County.

Also Played For: premier league fantasy football, chelsea f.c

10. Jadon Sancho

Manchester United F.C.

Jadon Sancho Career

  • 2007–2015: Watford
  • 2015–2017: Manchester City
  • 2017: Borussia Dortmund II
  • 2017–2021: Borussia Dortmund
  • 2021: Manchester United
  • 2015–2016: England U16
  • 2016–2017: England U17
  • 2017–2018: England U19
  • 2018: England

Jadon Sancho is a young English winger who signed for Manchester United in July 2019. Jadon Sancho started his career at Watford, where he made over 100 appearances and scored 38 goals between 2015 and 2017.

In 2017, he moved to German side Borussia Dortmund II, scoring three times in the Bundesliga before signing for Manchester United in July 2019. 

Jadon Sancho has pace and an excellent dribbling ability which make him dangerous on the wings; however, it will be interesting to see how he fares playing under manager Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Jadon Sancho is a young English footballer who has been highly touted by many as one of the best prospects in Europe. Jadon began his career with Manchester City but was loaned out to Borussia Dortmund for the 2017-2018 season. 

He quickly made an impact at Dortmund and helped them win the Bundesliga title that year. Jadon subsequently signed with England's Premier League team, Manchester United, in June 2018 and made his debut shortly thereafter against Chelsea.

He has since established himself as a regular starter for United and has contributed significantly to their success over the past two years. 

Jadon is known for his speed and dribbling ability; these skills have seen him score goals both from close range and further out on the pitch. 

His strong playmaking abilities have also earned him plaudits from pundits across Europe, who believe he has all the potential to become one of the greatest players ever born in England or abroad.

With several high-profile clubs reportedly interested in signing him next summer, it will be interesting to see what else Jadon can achieve during his time at Manchester United.

Also Played For: manchester united f.c, england national football team

11. Luis Díaz

Luis Díaz Career

  • 2014–2016: Atlético Junior
  • 2016–2017: Barranquilla
  • 2017–2019: Atlético Junior
  • 2019–2022: Porto
  • 2022: Liverpool
  • 2017: Colombia U20
  • 2018: Colombia

Luis Díaz is a Colombian winger who currently plays for Liverpool. He made his debut for Atlético Junior in 2014 and went on to make over 100 appearances for the club before joining Liverpool in 2022.

Luis has represented Colombia at youth level and was part of their under-20 side that competed in the 2017 U-20 World Cup where they reached the semi-final stage before losing out to France. 

Luis is known for his speed, skill, power and crossing ability which have seen him score goals both domestically and internationally including six times in all competitions during the 2018–19 season with Liverpool so far this campaign.

With two years remaining on his contract at Anfield, there are likely to be many more opportunities to showcase his talents across Europe as well as South America with various clubs interested in signing him up ahead of schedule should he decide not to extend his current deal with Liverpool.

Also Played For: columbus crew, copa america

12. Florian Wirtz

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Florian Wirtz Career

  • 2008–2010: SV Grün-Weiß Brauweiler
  • 2010–2020: 1. FC Köln
  • 2020: Bayer Leverkusen
  • 2020: Bayer Leverkusen
  • 2018: Germany U15
  • 2018–2019: Germany U16
  • 2019–2020: Germany U17
  • 2020–2021: Germany U21
  • 2021: Germany

Florian Wirtz is a attacking midfielder for Bayer Leverkusen. He started his career at SV Grün-Weiß Brauweiler before moving to 1. FC Köln in 2010 and then to Bayer Leverkusen in 2020.

Florian has represented Germany at under-17, under-19, and under-21 level, as well as the full international team on one occasion – the 2016 European Championship Finals tournament. 

In total, he has made over 150 appearances for his various clubs during his professional career so far.

Florian Wirtz is a German footballer who currently plays for Bayer Leverkusen. He has represented Germany at various youth levels and made his senior international debut in 2018. 

Florian Wirtz primarily plays as a midfielder but can also be deployed as a defender or forward. He has been praised for his ball control and passing ability, both of which are key to his playing style.

In the upcoming season, he will be aiming to help Bayer Leverkusen win their first Bundesliga title since 2002/03. Florian Wirtz is contracted with the club until 2021 and is likely to remain with them once his current deal expires.

Also Played For: bundesliga, euro u21

13. Mason Greenwood

Manchester United F.C.

Mason Greenwood Career

  • 2007–2018: Manchester United
  • 2018–: Manchester United
  • 2015: England U15
  • 2017–2018: England U17
  • 2018: England U18
  • 2019: England U21
  • 2020: England
  • *Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 17:02, 22 January 2022 (UTC)

Mason Greenwood is a forward for Manchester United and was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire in England in 2001. Greenwood made his professional debut for United in the 2017-18 season and has since established himself as an important part of the team.

Greenwood has been praised for his speed and ability to score goals. Greenwood has represented England at youth level and is eligible to play for both England and the United States national team. Greenwood is contracted to Manchester United until 2024.

Greenwood is a committed member of the Manchester United community and regularly attends charity events. Greenwood is likely to be a key player for Manchester United in the future and is likely to continue to improve his game. 

Greenwood is a popular member of the Manchester United team and is highly regarded by his teammates.

Greenwood is likely to be a key player for Manchester United in the future and is likely to continue to improve his game.

14. Ferran Torres

FC Barcelona

Ferran Torres Career

  • 2006–2017: Valencia
  • 2016–2017: Valencia Mestalla
  • 2017–2020: Valencia
  • 2020–2022: Manchester City
  • 2022: Barcelona
  • 2016–2017: Spain U17
  • 2018–2019: Spain U19
  • 2019–2021: Spain U21
  • 2020: Spain

Ferran Torres is a Spanish forward who joined Barcelona in 2020. Torres was born in Foios, Spain in 2000 and started his career at Valencia. In 2017, Torres joined Manchester City on a six-year contract.

Torres has scored six goals in 71 appearances for Valencia. Ferran Torres signed for Barcelona in 2020 and has since made 12 appearances for the club. Torres is a deadly finisher with both feet and is known for his speed and strength.

Torres is a versatile forward who can play anywhere across the front three. Ferran Torres is a key player for Valencia and is hoping to help them achieve promotion to La Liga. Ferran Torres is a young and exciting forward with a bright future ahead of him.

Ferran Torres is a Spanish international footballer who has played for Spain at youth levels. Ferran Torres started his career with Valencia CF, before moving to Barcelona in 2016. 

Ferran Torres had a successful spell with Barcelona, winning several trophies with the club.

Ferran Torres left Barcelona in 2021 to join Spanish side Alaves. Ferran Torres has represented Spain at several youth levels, including the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.

UEFA European Under-17 Championship. Ferran Torres is currently with Alaves, where he is a key player.

Also Played For: spain national football team

15. Bruno Praxedes

Red Bull Bragantino

Bruno Praxedes Career

  • 2013-2019: Fluminense
  • 2019–2021: Internacional
  • 2021: Red Bull Bragantino
  • 2017: Brazil U17
  • 2020: Brazil U20
  • *Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 23:11, 13 December 2021 (UTC), ‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 10 January 2021

Bruno Praxedes is a midfielder who currently plays for Red Bull Bragantino. Bruno is 21 years old and he was born in Brazil. He is 1.86 metres tall and he is very good at passing and shooting.

Bruno has played for Brazil at under-17 and under-20 level. He has made one appearance for the Brazil national team. Bruno is a very promising young footballer and he is sure to play a big part in the future of Red Bull Bragantino.

Bruno Praxedes is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Internacional. He made his senior debut with Fluminense in 2013 and has since played for Red Bull Bragantino and Internacional. Bruno Praxedes has represented Brazil at U17 and U20 level.

He is known for his pace and dribbling ability. Bruno Praxedes is a very attacking player and is often seen creating chances for his team-mates. 

He is a very versatile player and can play anywhere across the midfield area. Bruno Praxedes is a hard-working player who is always looking to make an impact on the game.

He is expected to play a major role for Internacional next season. Bruno Praxedes is a talented player with a bright future ahead of him.

Final Words

The CIES Football Observatory is an independent research organization located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, which produces yearly rankings of the best football players in the world.

Photo of author

Andrew Kovacs

I am a Head Boys Soccer Coach at Amherst Regional Public Schools in Massachusetts. I have coached for the past five years and I am currently working on my master's degree in Exercise Science. I coach soccer because I love the game and I enjoy being around the kids. It is rewarding to see them develop their skills and grow as individuals. LinkedIn

Leave a Comment