Who is the best football player in the world? The answer will never be agreed upon, it will never be fully settled, it will never be definitively decided.
Naturally, we thought it was a good idea to at least have a go at rounding up the best of the best in world football.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have ruled the roost for the lion's share of 20 years, but their reign has come under increasing threat from the next generation of stars with high hopes of reaching the top.
We've based our list on a variety of factors. We have taken short-term form into account, but particularly strong or weak 2021/22 seasons have been overlooked in many cases so that players with a long history of incredible performances aren't shunted down at the first opportunity.
Trophies, strength of leagues, raw stats, unquantifiable magic and a host of other aspects have come together to form our criteria for the list, and we know you're going to wholeheartedly disagree with us.
To whet your appetite even further, to demonstrate the sheer strength of the top 10, we have omitted defensive titans Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk, Manchester United's creative behemoth Bruno Fernandes and PSG megastar Neymar from our rankings.
RadioTimes.com brings you our definitive list of the 10 best football players in the world in 2022.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
Ronaldo is one of the big sliders on this list after previously sitting firmly in the top two for over a decade.
It's safe to say his best days are behind him as he approaches the final gambits of his career, but there's no shame in that and he remains a lethal tool in United's arsenal.
Ronaldo has evolved from pacey winger to talismanic centre forward and remains one of the best in the business when it comes to keeping his cool and scoring clutch goals at the death.
9. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
It's hard to make a direct comparison between defenders, midfielders and forwards, but in many ways, Alexander-Arnold's strength is that he operates in each of those realms.
He is rarely caught out at the back, he knows when to drift back and forth in the middle of the park in and out of possession, and when he flicks on the turbo chargers, he can scythe down the line and deliver supreme crosses on demand.
Alexander-Arnold is the best full-back in the world, and much of Liverpool's recent success flows from his constant influence on games. The best part? He's only 23.
8. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Benzema has made a booming return to the list as he continues to an enjoy an Indian summer after almost two decades in the game.
The Real Madrid talisman has been overlooked by Madrid for Galactico-style big-money names in recent years, but they always end up turning back to the reliable Frenchman who is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career in 2021/22.
He hasn't made this list based on his 17 goals in 21 La Liga games this season, he has produced three back-to-back 20-goal seasons prior to this one with a stack of assists that are testament to his work-rate, selflessness and influence in determining Madrid's success.
7. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
[Raises shield] We know this one could take some heat, but for all Harry Kane's woes in 2021/22 so far, he is quite simply one of the world's best strikers and well worthy of his seat at the top table in terms of world talents overall.
Kane has recorded comfortably more than 20 goals every time he has played more than 30 Premier League games for Tottenham in a season. During the other campaigns, severely hampered by injuries, he has still notched up big tallies.
The England talisman is more than just raw statistics though. His range of passing, his technique, his vision and playmaking abilities set him apart from almost every other striker on the planet. He is an outrageous talent who deserves trophies in his locker.
7. Erling Haaland (Dortmund)
We reach the first player on the list with extremely strong potential to reach the hallowed No.1 spot on this list within a few years.
Haaland has been magnificent since exploding onto the professional football scene. He was prolific at Red Bull Salzburg and is currently making a mockery of the Bundesliga in a Dortmund shirt.
At 6'4", he is a powerhouse that few can contain. In the two and a half seasons between the summer of 2019 and start of 2022, Haaland has slammed home 72 goals in 71 league games. He is primed for the very top.
5. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Haaland's main competitor for the title of 'best player in the world' is without a doubt Kylian Mbappe. The top four players on this list are all 29 and older, paving the way for the Frenchman to dominate for years to come.
He boasts acceleration that would put Doc Brown's DeLorean to shame and at the age of 23 he already boasts 88 goals in 100 PSG league games and 24 goals in 53 France national team caps.
When Mbappe is running at you, there's little you can do but cry and pray for backup. His close control is second-to-none and clinical finishing ability is the icing on the cake.
4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
In terms of sheer form, Salah is probably No.2 in the world right now, but we're trying to take a whole range of criteria into account here.
Salah's direct running could be viewed as rudimentary by footballing snobs, but there's no denying his effectiveness. There are few better players in the world at picking the ball up out wide and driving across – or into – the box at speed.
He is Liverpool's talisman, their icon, their Egyptian king. He may have blossomed later in his career than many superstars names, but he will go down as one of the all-time Premier League greats without a doubt.
3. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
In terms of raw form, Salah should sit ahead of De Bruyne, but in terms of the complete package, skill-set, technical ability, physical merits and mental toughness, De Bruyne may be the No.1 complete footballer in the world today.
He is the best crosser of a football in Premier League history and has played some of the most outrageous passes you're ever likely to see. On top of creating goals, he can also rip nets from their stanchions himself.
This is all well and good, but what truly sets De Bruyne apart from the crowd of similar players is his surprising pace and physicality. The Belgian is a stronger than you may expect and at full throttle, he is a rapid mover with the football. He simply has it all.
2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Lewandowski is the most in-form player in the world right now, there is simply no doubt about it. And he has been for some time. It feels like a great disgrace that he hasn't lifted a ballon d'Or in his beserk career.
The Polish icon boasts a well-balanced portfolio of pace, strength and technical ability, and his movement in the box is sublime. His positioning is always on point and there's no-one you'd rather trust in a one-on-one situation.
We know it's not all about raw stats, but we're going to leave you with some red-hot Lewandowski numbers to absorb. He has scored 328 goals in 357 games across all competitions for Bayern Munich, including 41 Bundesliga strikes in just 29 games last season. He's currently averaging more than a goal per game this term too.
1. Lionel Messi (PSG)
"But, Ronaldo dropped to 10th?!" I hear you cry. There's no trying to hide the fact that Lionel Messi hasn't exactly set the world alight in Paris this season, but half a season of relative mediocrity shouldn't erase 15 years of utter dominance.
There's no doubt about it that Ronaldo and Messi will go down in history among the top three best football players of all time, alongside the late great Diego Maradona, but while Ronaldo's role has been boiled down somewhat, we're still witnessing the full-fat version of Messi, despite his iffy form.
Messi is the reigning ballon d'Or winner after a stunning final season in Barcelona and after finally lifting a trophy with Argentina. His influence should never be doubted, his talent never down-played.
If he doesn't click into gear by the end of the season, he may be due to drop down the list, but for now, if there's one player in the world you'd want to play for your football team, there's only one name that fall from your lips: Leo.
Who is the best football player in the world?
Lionel Messi remains the undisputed king of the football world, though it would be foolish not to raise an eyebrow over his season with PSG so far.
The French side are the closest thing to a real-world FIFA Ultimate Team XI you're ever likely to see, and as players know, chemistry takes time.
As an individual talent and based on almost two decades of cold, objective data and warm, unquantifiable magic, he is the best. Not only the best right now, but the best of all time.
Do you agree with our list? Of course you don't! And that's totally fine, even though you are completely wrong.