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Player of the Tournament Power Rankings: Messi and Mbappe's battle for the ages

9:05 PM WAT 18/12/2022
Konami Power Rankings Quarter-finals 16:9
GOAL counts down the top 10 performers at an incredible competition in Qatar...

Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane – some of the biggest names in football history have illuminated the game’s grandest stage. But who was the best player at this year's tournament?

Obviously, Lionel Messi led by example for Argentina, but he was ably supported by breakout stars such as Julian Alvarez and Enzo Fernandez, as well as veteran centre-back Nicolas Otamendi.

But what about France's outstanding attackers? Olivier Giroud became the country's all-time leading scorer, Kylian Mbappe was just phenomenal, while Antoine Griezmann was the brains behind the operation.

Then again, maybe the award should go to one of the men starred for Morocco during their historic run to the last four?

Below, GOAL runs through the tournament's 10 best players...

  • Nicolas Otamendi Argentina Konami

    #10 Nicolas Otamendi

    Few expected Otamendi to play such a pivotal part in Argentina's campaign. Indeed, there were those that thought the 34-year-old was the weak link in Lionel Scaloni's side and he did give away a penalty in the final. However, Otamendi was immense for the Albiceleste, turning in a succession of inspirational performances at the back, characterised by aerial dominance (no player has won more headers) and crunching tackles. The huge roar he received as he stepped up to collect his winner's medal showed just how much the fans have appreciated this remarkable swansong.

  • Josko Gvardiol Croatia Konami

    #9 Josko Gvardiol

    The Croatia defender may have been given the run-around by Messi in the semi-finals but Gvardiol showed in Qatar why he's being chased by a host of top European clubs. The 20-year-old centre-back ranked second for interceptions and third for possession won. Gvardiol also popped up with a goal in the third-placed play-off win over Morocco, thus becoming his nation's youngest ever scorer at the tournament.

  • Julian Alvarez Argentina Croatia Konami

    #8 Julian Alvarez

    We knew Julian Alvarez was good, of course. Manchester City don't usually sign duds. But nobody expected Alvarez to make such a big impact in Qatar. Remember, he started the tournament on the bench but started the final having scored four goals, including two in the last-four win over Croatia. On top of that, he ran himself into the ground, compensating for Messi's lack of defensive work by covering every blade of grass with his pressing and clever movement.

  • Achraf Hakimi Morocco Konami

    #7 Achraf Hakimi

    The Paris Saint-Germain ace has cemented his status as the most complete full-back in world football with his performances in Qatar. With his marauding runs down the right flank and tournament-high 14 tackles won, Hakimi played a pivotal role in Morocco's sensational run to the semi-finals. Indeed, it was the Paris Saint-Germain ace who coolly converted the decisive spot-kick in the last-16 shootout success over Spain.

  • Enzo Fernandez Argentina Konami

    #6 Enzo Fernandez

    A most worthy recipient of the young player of the tournament award. Indeed, the introduction of Enzo Fernandez into the midfield was one of the most significant moments of Argentina's triumphant campaign. The Benfica man, who will now be worth a fortune, brought dynamism and control, not to mention creativity and a goal threat. Just a "spectacular talent", as Messi called him.

  • Sofyan Amrabat Morocco Konami

    #5 Sofyan Amrabat

    Immense – that's that only word for Sofyan Ambrabat's performance in Morocco's sensational quarter-final win over Portugal. Not that we should have been surprised by his display, of course, Amrabat has been the best defensive midfielder on show in Qatar, regaining possession more times (57) than anyone else. Indeed, his effort against Spain in the last 16 will go into tournament folklore, given he'd been up until 3am on the day of the game, working with the Morocco physio in a desperate bid to play. And as for his recovery and tackle on Mbappe in the semis, well, that was one of the tournament's most iconic moments right there.

  • Emiliano Martinez Argentina Konami

    #4 Emiliano Martinez

    The tournament's best goalkeeper, without a shadow of a doubt. Martinez was utterly integral to Argentina's triumph for two reasons. Firstly, there was his shot-stopping. He came up big in two shootouts, while the only reason the final went to penalties was a simply stunning stop with his left boot from Randal Kolo Muani in the dying seconds of extra time. Secondly, there's Martinez's incredible commitment to the cause. As Lionel Messi has pointed out in the past, nobody better personfies the spirit of self-sacrifice that pervades Lionel Scaloni's squad than this larger-than-life character.

  • Antoine Griezmann France Konami card

    #3 Antoine Griezmann

    Antoine Griezmann didn't manage a single goal and didn't have his best game in the final but France wouldn't have made it that far without his wonderful work-rate and terrific technique. Mbappe may have been Les Bleus' star man but Griezmann was the hybrid hero that made their forward line function. As well as working like a Trojan (he regained possession 34 times), he was his country's creator-in-chief, as underlined by the fact that no player set up more chances in Qatar than the under-rated Atletico Madrid man (22).

  • Kylian Mbappe France Konami 16:9

    #2 Kylian Mbappe

    Kylian Mbappe nearly quit international football a year ago. In Qatar, he finished as the tournament's top scorer after scoring eight goals, including three in the final, thus matching a feat only previously achieved by Geoff Hurst in 1966. Mbappe was unplayable at times and, given he's still only 23, which is honestly just ridiculous, he now looks destined to become the tournament's all-time top scorer in four years' time.

  • Lionel Messi Argentina Konami Player Card

    #1 Lionel Messi

    What more can you say about the man? Rio Ferdinand called his performance against Australia "god-like" and Messi really doesn't seem to be of this world. What he achieved in Qatar at the age of 35 was just extraordinary. He didn't just finally get his hands on the one major prize that had alluded him, he was also the tournament's best player, scoring seven goals and creating three more. He's the GOAT, it really is as simple as that.