Mbappé, Messi the best but …
Analysts can’t agree on the next in line for performances of the World Cup
LIONEL MESSI and Kylian Mbappé were the two best players at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Football analyst Clyde Jureidini, Excelsior High technical director Xavier Gilbert, and national men’s team manager Roy Simpson all agree on that. Ask them to name another player to join Messi and Mbappé in a Qatar top three and the convergence ends.
Speaking a day after the World Cup final, Simpson went for Croatian veteran Luka Modrić.
“He held that team together. You know, his leadership on the pitch, how he organised and orchestrated things from a central midfield position was just incredible,” Simpson praised liberally, having seen Modric, at 37, direct Croatia to victory in the third-place play-off against Morocco on Saturday.
Using his coach’s eye, Gilbert made a surprising choice and selected Alexis Mac Allister of Argentina and Brighton & Hove Albion.
“I think Mac Allister quietly has done tremendous for Argentina. Although Messi was, you know, being Lionel Messi and the best footballer of now, Mac Allister, his performance and, probably surprisingly, because I think he plays for Brighton, and he wasn’t a talked-about player coming into the World Cup,” Gilbert noted of the industrious Argentine, who scored against Poland.
“I was very impressed with his overall performance on the field of play, what he does with the ball, without the ball, that sort of thing,” the Excelsior coach added.
Asked why he didn’t pick Modrić or Antoine Griezmann of France, Gilbert replied, “I thought about Luka Modrić, of course. However, when you look at what Argentina has achieved, arguably probably not the best Argentina team, but they won the World Cup. Remember, it’s not easy to win the World Cup, and, of course, Messi got some good support. He has always had some fantastic players around him before but they just didn’t perform, and at this point in time, the ones who perform, you have to hail them because they ensured that Argentina got across the line.”
After a month of dazzling World Cup football, Jureidini struggled to pick just three. “It would be unfair to so many players to limit it to three, but let me look at about four or five, and let me come to the third,” he began.
His list covered Griezmann and Modrić, and Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech and Ritsu Dōan of Japan.
“Those to me made the incredible difference to their teams; and then, of course, it would be unfair not to mention Neymar, who, like the other superstars, the three Ms, Modrić, Mbappé and Messi, showed that they are above the fray,” he said to acknowledge Neymar, whose classy play almost saw Brazil into the semi-finals.
Jureidini was clear.
“They are, for me, the top four players in the world without question,” he bluntly stated.
There were no surprises for Simpson, who pinned his Messi-Mbappé- Modrić choice to the results of the tournament.
“To each individual contribution that they made to their teams, and I’m not surprised they finished in that order, first, second and third,” the Jamaica manager concluded.