Gregory Sica rates the top 10 South American footballers of 2008...
10- Ronaldinho (AC Milan and Brazil)
Since shifting from Barcelona to AC Milan, Ronaldinho has shown flashes of his all-time best. He may not be at that level yet, but his performances have been very promising. He has found the back of the net on a regular basis, and perhaps scored Milan's most important goal of the season, the winner in the 1-0 derby victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro. Much is expected of Ronaldinho next year.
9- Hernanes (São Paulo)
Hernanes is the future of the Brazilian national team. Having guided São Paulo to a record third successive Campeonato Brasileiro, a bright future surely awaits him in Europe, whether he finally makes a much anticipated move to Barcelona or not. Hernanes is pure class, and his ability is likely to earn him a permanent place in the Brazilian national team in the near future.
8- Diego Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
The Uruguayan international is one of the most consistent strikers in Europe, and he has played a determining role as Atlético Madrid have been transformed into a force to be wreakoned with. Forlán found the back of the net 16 times last season, and he has scored 10 goals in La Liga so far this term. He has also been as prolific with the Uruguayan national team during the World Cup qualifiers.
7- Luis Fabiano (Sevilla and Brazil)
Over the years Luis Fabiano has consolidated himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe. Last season O Fabuloso finished as La Liga's second top scorer, with 24 goals, and he has cemented himself a permanent position in the Brazilian national team attack. Despite heavy interest from major clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Milan, the Brazilian is comfortable at Sevilla, and is reluctant to part ways with the club.
6- Robinho (Manchester City and Brazil)
Manchester City may be struggling a great deal, but Robinho surely hasn't, having scored eight Premier League goals this season. His adaptation to English football has been excellent, but he has been let down by a team that lacks big names, in stark contrast to his former club Real Madrid. Robinho's recent performances with the Brazilian national team have also been very impressive.
5- Maicon (Inter Milan)
Widely considered the best right back in the entire world, Maicon has been in extraordinary form with Inter Milan and the Brazilian national team. Since cementing his place in the Inter first team, he has proved to be one of the most important players at the club. This season he has also found the back of the net quite consistently, giving Inter a number of valuable wins.
4- Juan Román Riquelme (Boca Juniors and Argentina)
The gifted playmaker put an end to a superb year with the Argentine Apertura Championship last Tuesday. Riquelme played a key role as Boca Juniors claimed the title, having scored a few decisive goals. He also captained Argentina to the Beijing Olympic Games gold medal. Riquelme has demonstrated that he is still one of the best players in the world, even if he doesn't play in the elite leagues of European football.
3- Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid and Argentina)
Agüero has experienced a memorable year both at a professional and personal level. His girlfriend Giannina Maradona is expecting their first child in February, and to add to this his father-in-law, Diego Maradona, was appointed the coach of the Argentine national team. Agüero has also been in extraordinary form with club and country, and can be considered one of the best strikers in the game. He scored 19 goals to give Atlético entry into the Champions League, and he also played an important role as Argentina won the Olympic Games gold medal in Beijing.
2- Kaká (AC Milan and Brazil)
Although not as dominant as last year, Kaká continues to be world class, be that with AC Milan or the Brazilian national team. When Kaká is at his best, few players can compare to him. Despite Milan's extensive problems this year, Kaká has been able to maintain consistency, and he has scored some vital goals. Kaká continues to attract attention from across Europe, but he seems happy to remain at the Italian giants.
1- Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)
Arguably the most exciting footballer in the game, Messi has been in sensational form with Barcelona and the Argentine national team this year. Perhaps the most gifted player since the great Diego Maradona, Messi is a rare species, and his skill, work rate and goals (15 of them) have transformed Barcelona into the most dangerous team in Europe this season. If La Pulga continues with this extraordinary form he could go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Joffre Guerrón, Juan Sebastián Verón, Javier Mascherano, Luis Bolaños, Sebastian Battaglia, Carlos Tévez, Alexandre Pato, Thiago Neves, Daniel Alves, Diego Lugano, Gary Medel, Lisandro López, Andrés D'Alessandro, Salvador Cabañas, Gonzalo Higuaín
Gregory Sica, Goal.com