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Ranking 5 best players in international football (2021)

Both Ronaldo (left) and Messi had a tremendous year at the international level.
Both Ronaldo (left) and Messi had a tremendous year at the international level.

This year has seen quite a lot of footballing action on the international stage. The Euros and Copa America enthralled millions across the world.

The winners of the two major continental trophies, Italy and Argentina, could face each other at the inaugural Copa EuroAmerica tournament next summer.

OFFICIAL: Euro winners 🇮🇹 will play Copa América winners 🇦🇷 in a newly formed Copa EuroAmérica, which will be played in June 2022. https://t.co/lJopvGporx

While individuals may continue to shine for their clubs, playing for one's country is a matter of pride that is unmatched. Apart from the two major tournaments, national teams were busy preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The best players in the world excel for both club and country. With remarkable achievements, some players enjoyed a great year. As we reach the end of the year, here's a look at the top five players who performed exceptionally at international level in 2021:


#5 Memphis Depay

Netherlands vs Gibraltar - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Netherlands vs Gibraltar - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

After a disappointing spell with Manchester United, Memphis Depay joined Lyon in 2017 and struck form. After joining a cash-strapped Barcelona team this season, Depay will now look to replicate his goal-scoring exploits at his new club.

Depay dazzled for the Netherlands on the international stage this year, bagging 17 goals and eight assists. He wrote his name in the record books during the Netherlands' 6-0 thrashing of Gibraltar. He scored 13 international goals in 2021, more than any other player in a year for the Netherlands.

Leading in both goals AND assists in Europe.Memphis Depay is putting up numbers in World Cup qualifiers 🔥 https://t.co/pH8VSn7xcm

The Dutch had finished third in the 2014 World Cup but missed out on the next one in 2018. Louis van Gaal was made manager of the Netherlands this year - the third time he has taken charge of his national team. He will strive to make the Oranje to greater heights in next year's tournament, for which the Netherlands have qualified.


#4 Jorginho

Italy Training Session & Press Conference
Italy Training Session & Press Conference

An indispensable part of Roberto Mancini's Italian side, Jorginho is often an underrated player. Rarely putting a foot wrong, the Italian has had a fine year in international football this year. The midfielder was one of only three players to start every game for Italy in their triumphant Euros campaign.

He is the only outfield player on this list without a goal or an assist in international football in 2021. However, it would be unjust to exclude him based only on that. Jorginho's contributions from the heart of midfield was key to Italy's success at the Euros.

📸 The winning moment for Jorginho and Italy! ⚽️🎉#EURO2020 https://t.co/iX3c2KKa92

His passing and vision were outstanding for club and country as he controlled games. Apart from winning the Euros, 2021 was an exceptional year for the Italian. Jorginho also won the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup with Chelsea, and finished third in the Ballon d'Or rankings.

#3 Cristiano Ronaldo

Hungary vs Portugal - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F
Hungary vs Portugal - UEFA Euro 2020: Group F

Even at 36, Ronaldo keeps performing at the highest level. The all-time great finished as the top scorer at Euro 2020 alongside Patrik Schick, scoring five goals. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Golden Boot winner at the tournament, made history by becoming the first player to score at least ten goals overall in Euro history.

During the year, Ronaldo (115 goals) became the most prolific male scorer in international football. The Portuguese is also the all-time top scorer at the Euros, with 14 goals. He bagged 13 goals and an assist in 2021 for Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo today:• Most international goals in football history.• The highest capped European player in football history.He also received his EURO top scorer award 🤯 https://t.co/trxMVSXykx

Based on the new playoffs system, either Italy or Portugal will miss out on the 2022 World Cup. If Portugal qualify, the 2022 edition of the World Cup may well prove to be Ronaldo's last. However, given his mentality and commitment, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him don the Portugal jersey in the 2026 edition too.


#2 Gianluigi Donnarumma

Italy vs England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final
Italy vs England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final

At just 22, Gianluigi Donnarumma has had a tremendous amount of success. The 6' 5" tall goalie made his first senior appearance with AC Milan at 16. Donnarumma won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper of the year in 2021. He is the second winner of the award introduced two years ago.

Donnarumma played a key role in Italy's success at the Euros, saving two penalties against England in the final shootout. He won the Euro Player of the Tournament award. A commanding presence at goal, Donaarumma was Italy's brick wall at the tournament.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is the official EURO 2020 Player of the TournamentHe is the first ever goalkeeper to receive the award at a European Championship https://t.co/7GCvGWJ6wX

The 22-year-old has kept an impressive ten clean sheets in international football in 2021. He joined Paris Saint-Germain this summer, and is competing with Keylor Navas to become the team's first-choice custodian. With a substantial part of his career ahead of him, the Italian has the potential to become the world's best.


#1 Lionel Messi

Argentina vs Uruguay - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Argentina vs Uruguay - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

Lionel Messi enjoyed a historic year in 2021 in more ways than one. For starters, he left his beloved Barcelona and joined PSG. The Argentine superstar also had a remarkable year in international football in 2021.

Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title, ending their senior trophy drought spanning almost three decades. Messi had always been the fulcrum of Barcelona. Despite underwhelming teammates around, he still led the La Liga scoring charts last season with 30 goals.

The Argentine bagged nine international goals and five assists in 2021. He was the driving force of his national side, with four goals and five assists in Argentina's triumphant Copa America 2021 campaign/

That amounts to nine goal involvements out of Argentina's 11 goals in the tournament. His superb performances and Copa América glory set the stage for his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or award. The 34-year-old will look to lead his team to World Cup glory next year in Qatar.

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Edited by Bhargav
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