We ended Breaking The Lines’ last top 50 list with a philosophical discussion regarding glory and ability, trophies and talent, and Cristiano and Messi. In many ways, that list is the most mainstream-it is, after all, the top 50 players in world football, with most players either household names or widely recognized. However, different people have different preferences, and we would be doing our readership a disservice if we did not continue our two other lists from our December premiere. For the sake of continuing tradition, we present: The Top 50 Breakout Stars of the 2016/17 season.
The breakout star list is inherently the most subjective. After all, what defines a breakout? We believe that a breakout season is the season where a player announces himself to the world, where he not only grabs the attention of the professional scout, but the casual fan as well. Still, from my view, a player’s breakout season can be different from a more scrupulous or more casual fan than myself. For example, some would consider 2015/16 the breakout season of Hoffenheim’s young midfielder Nadiem Amiri. In my eyes, he still hasn’t shown us what he’s capable of, and thus, has not had his breakout season yet.
Some guidelines for this list: no player over the age of 23 will be considered. Also, for the sake of avoiding repeat inclusions and discussing more players, no player on the “Best Players of 2016/17” list will be on this one (e.g. Kylian Mbappé, Andrea Belotti). Sometimes, debut seasons are so powerful and memorable that they skip past the first two lists (Ones To Watch and Breakout Stars) and go straight to the top. In Mbappé’s case, we expect him to be spending the next few seasons on the Best Players list.
In regards to the previous list, I think this is more diverse in all aspects. Sergio Ramos and Leonardo Bonucci were the only center backs who made our top 50 players of 2016/17 (sorry Mats Hummels and Giorgio Chiellini). In contrast, there were twice as many center backs in the top 25 alone. Furthermore, Andrea Belotti and Mauro Icardi were the only players in the top 50 who neither played in the Champions League last season, nor will play in this current season (we’re going to assume Belotti stays at Torino and that Sadio Mané’s Liverpool knock out Hoffenheim).
Furthermore, any players who have already had their breakout season (again, extremely subjective) will not be on this list. I didn’t put Marco Asensio on this list, and I didn’t put him on the previous list either (Breakout Stars of 2016). That’s because, for me, in his season with Espanyol, especially the first half of that 2015/16 season, he demonstrated his Ballon D’Or potential. Thus, we already knew of his potential, and thus, his next step is “Top 50 Players In Football.”
Every one of these breakout stars played a huge role for their clubs this season. Most of them broke into the starting lineup, and never relinquished their starting spot after doing so. Some gave legendary performances on international soil, and some even earned call-ups to their national teams.
Thanks to a ton of hard work from our artists and writers, we were able to create this unique, high-quality list. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did creating it. Sit back and enjoy our breakout stars, or as we call them, the top 50 players of tomorrow.