Updated 11:29 AM EST, Thu, Dec 02, 2021

Lionel Messi Tops 2015 CIES Football Observatory Study; Cristiano Ronaldo 29th

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FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi was named the best performing forward in the elite leagues in Europe this year based on a CIES Football Observatory study.

Assessing players using several key performance indicators, Messi took the top spot with 17 goals since January. He was followed closely by his teammates Luis Suarez and Neymar at fourth and 12th place, respectively,  ESPN reported.

The FC Barcelona star's close competitors were Wolfsburg's Bas Dost and Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben, ESPN added. Meanwhile, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has often been compared to Messi, ranked 29th.

Ronaldo's low ranking, according to Daily Mail, could be attributed to his low points turnout since he was only able to make six goals in La Liga for this year after claiming victory at the Ballon d'Or in January. Messi, on the other hand, has made a double-digit score since the start of the year.

For joint-best attacking midfielders, Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Arsenal's Mesut Ozil took the top spots while Manchester City's Jesus Navas placed third, ESPN added.

Below is the complete list of the top players for each indicated position as listed by SkySports: ( For a complete list of the players and their ranks, click this link.)

Top forwards

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

Bas Dost (Wolfsburg)

Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Top attacking midfielders

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Jesus Navas (Man City)

Kevin de Bruyne (Wolfsburg)

Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund)

Top central midfielders

Nuri Sahin (Dortmund)

Paul Pogba (Juventus)

Fernandinho (Man City)

Lucas Biglia (Lazio)

Ilkay Gundogan (Dortmund)

Top full-backs

Gael Clichy (Man City)

Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Rafinha (Bayern Munich)

Wendell Nascimento (Bayer Leverkusen)

Pablo Zabaleta (Man City)

Top centre-backs

Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen)

Martin Demichelis (Man City)

Mats Hummels (Dortmund)

Chris Smalling (Man United)

Thiago Silva (PSG)

Meanwhile, ESPN noted the definitions of the ranking techniques used in the study and explained each key performance indicator and how it was measured:

KPIs (weighted according to player position)

- Shooting: Ability to take advantage of goal opportunities through accurate shooting

- Chance creation: Ability to put teammates in a good position to score

- Take on: Ability to create dangerous situations by successfully challenging opponents

- Distribution: ability to keep a hold on the game through efficient passing

- Recovery: Ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through proficient interception work

- Rigour: Ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through robust duelling

Taking into account all these indicators, the study clearly established that Messi is on top of the list of power forwards in the league.

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