The Cream of the Crop

Didier Drogba

National team: Ivory Coast. Club: Chelsea. The balletic, one- man wrecking crew is one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People

David Villa

National team: Spain. Club: Barcelona. Teammate Fernando Torres gets more press, but Villa scores in two of every three appearances for La Furia Roja. Was recently sold to Barcelona for $49 million

Cristiano Ronaldo

National team: Portugal. Club: Real Madrid. The sport's greatest show pony, who takes in about $30 million a year all told, possesses power and seriously fast feet. The master of the dark art of the flop


National team: Brazil. Club: Real Madrid. Although he has struggled with an injured groin, the $25 million-per-year player is the creative cog in Brazil's counterattack. Will try to redeem himself after a disappointing club season

Iker Casillas

National team: Spain. Club: Real Madrid. Agile, focused, and instinctive, he is the finest goalkeeper in the world today

Franck Ribéry

National team: France. Club: Bayern Munich. Although mired in a sex scandal off the field, on the pitch his pace and relentlessness can change a match


National team: Brazil. Club: Inter Milan. The skilled right-back and one-name wonder loves to maraud the flank and cannon the ball goalward. Maicon is named after Michael Douglas (seriously)

Wayne Rooney

National team: England. Club: Manchester United. He's been plagued by injuries, but this warrior will chase the ball into every corner of the field. Shortly after the tournament, Rooney is expected to sign a new contract worth approximately $160,000 per week or more

Lionel Messi

National team: Argentina. Club: Barcelona. FIFA's World Player of the Year makes an estimated $44 million per year dominating games.


National team: Spain. Club: Barcelona. A tiny midfield metronome, he can clinically dismantle opponents with his vision and precision passing. Xavi will play through the pain of a calf-muscle tear

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