By Brighton Mupangavanhu
It can never be an easy task to pick up ten best performing players at the World Cup currently under way in South Africa. South American teams have generally out-performed everybody else, providing a total of four teams in the last eight of the tournament. Yet the most outstanding player so far may not come from the dominant South American teams.
This World Cup has thus far been contested by some of the world's greatest players like Lionel Messi of Argentina, who is the reigning world player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo, previous winner of the award, England's trio of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon and Fabio Cannavaro of Italy. With the exception of Lionnel Messi, the other world stars have either not performed to expectations or their teams have simply been shown the door and are not in the elite club of the top eigth nations to contest the quarter-finals beginning from this coming Friday.
World Cup writer Martin Rogers is one of many analysts who feel that David Villa of Spain, who, coming to this tournament could not be spoken of in the same breadth as Messi, Rooney, Drogba or Ronaldo, has been the main star of the tournament thus far.
"Newspaper headlines have been dominated by Lionel Messi (of Argentina). But when it comes to pure performance, no other player has done better than Villa", Rogers told Yahoo Sports host Charissa Thompson on Thursday.
David Villa has been in devastating form for Spain, despite the slow start of one of the pre-tournament favourites. He has been the livewire in Spain's impressive run of late. Villa has contributed four goals towards the total 99 goals scored at this year's World Cup up until the last 16 fixtures. Villa currently sits as a leading goal-scorer, a spot which he shares with Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina and Robert Vittek of Slovakia, whose team has been knocked out already.
Here are the other ten players who have impressed in the World Cup tournament so far.
2. Lionel Messi The Barcelona playmaker is the soul and life of Argentina. Though he has not yet scored for his team at this tournament, his dribbling skills and passes which split defences have added the much needed spark to Argentina's performances so far. He has created opportunities for Higuain to score the four goals he has scored already. The headlines which he has grabbed, are to a certain extent justified. He has also beenfited from being part of a star-studded team, where he is the play-maker. Messi has played a total of about 360 minutes for Argentina.
3. Kevin Prince Boateng is BeezSports.com's choice for the 3rd best performing player at the World Cup. The Serie A-bound midfielder, who is new to the Ghanaian set-up having acquired Ghanaian citizenship in May, has been the engine room of Ghana's very impressive showing at the World Cup thus far. Prince-Boateng simply powers the Ghanaian engine-room, and together with team mate Andre Ayew, they have been two of the best performing youngsters at South Africa 2010 so far. Boateng scored a sublime goal against the USA after a brilliant individual effort.
4. Diego Forlan has been one of the main reasons of the surprise performance of Uruguay at this tournament. He was in out-standing form against South Africa and was correctly voted Man-of-the-match. He followed up that performance with another great performance against Mexico. He has been Uruguay's best player on view in all of the matches played by his team. He has already contributed 2 goals to his team's success, and remains the team's play-maker.
5. Andre Ayew. What a world cup experience the youngster has had! Ayew, a World Cup Under-20 winning captain for Ghana, has been the main architect of Ghana's attacking movements. Dede is difficult to dispossess when he has the ball on his feet. He combines that with cheeky dribbling skills, strength on the ball and deceiving movements when going forward. There is no doubt that if he keeps this focus, he will go further than his legendary father, Abedi Pele Ayew who won the African player of the year award for a then record three times.
6. Landon Donovan has been unfortunate to lose out on a quarter-final berth. The USA play-maker always plays with passion. Despite being a midfielder, Donovan finished as the USA's top scorer at this tournament. He was in outstanding form, scroring a last gasp goal against Algeria whicl led USA to the top of their group above fierce rivals England. He scored an equaliser from the penalty to force the match into a extra-time against Ghana who eventually knocked USA out in Extra-time.
7.Asamoah Gyan scored a stunning winner against the USA. He remains Ghana's trusted gun-man, and his experience calms the nerves of a young Ghana team when the odds are staked against his team. He has had a fantastic performance so far. Defenders shiver when he is in possession and causes real threat for the opposition when goping forward. He has scored a total of 3 goals so far and is one of the leading goal-scorers at this tournament. He has played for 381 minutes already.
8. Lucas Podolski has been German's main striker at this tournament. He has scored 2 goals thus far and has been in such irrestible performance. His movements towards goal are a real threat to opposition defenders.
9. Gonzalo Higuain has benefited much from the form of other players in the Argentinian team such as Messi and Gabriel Heinze who has also been outstanding. The Real Madrid striker has been sharp in front of goal and has taken over the goal-scoring role from Messi. He has been a real threat in the box. He currently sits on 4 goals and he is a joint leading-goal scorer.
10. Robert Vittek had to compete with other out-standing players such as Luis Fabiano of Brazil, Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands and Vincent Enyeama of Nigeria who was outstanding between the goal posts. But Vittek deserves a mention for his goal-scoring prowess in an otherwise average Slovakia team.