Welcome to World Class 2023: 25-man squad

  • 90min select their ultimate Welcome to World Class 25-man squad
  • Messi and Mbappe feature
  • The likes of Benzema and Saka narrowly miss out
Image by Briony Painter
Image by Briony Painter /

Over the last week, 90min's staff, readers and viewers have all come together to try and build an ultimate world class 25-man squad.

There's been plenty of debate (some of which was quite heated), plenty of Opta stats thrown around, and plenty of accusations of 'Premier League bias' dissed out.

But the deed has been done, with the following players earning a place in the 2023 Welcome to World Class squad.


Alisson, Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Alisson and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have made the cut in goal / Briony Painter | 90min

Alisson Becker - The fact that Alisson is quite comfortably Brazil's number one despite Ederson existing pretty much tells you all you need to know about the Liverpool goalkeeper. Once hailed as the 'Pele of goalkeepers', Alisson has been the best in the world for quite a while.

Thibaut Courtois - A torn ACL has scuppered the 2023/24 season for Courtois, but that doesn't take anything away from his performances since joining Real Madrid in 2018. The 2022 Yashin Trophy winner has won every single trophy available since joining the La Liga giants.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen - Having conceded just 20 goals in La Liga last season, 90min's YouTube viewers voted Ter Stegen into the Welcome to World Class 25-man squad.


David Alaba - The best left-back in the world during his time at Bayern Munich, and arguably the best centre-back in the world during his time at Real Madrid - it's fair to say that Alaba is pretty damn good. He offers the sort of positional flexibility that is needed when creating a 25-man squad.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - Is he a good defensive right-back? No, not at all. Is there a better attacking right-back in the world? No, definitely not. The England star has his flaws for sure, but you can't deny his quality on the ball either.

Alphonso Davies - The man who replaced Alaba on the left of Bayern's back four, Davies is one of the funnest players to watch in Europe. And judging by the five Bundesliga titles and one UEFA Champions League he has to his name, he is also one of the most effective too.

Kyle Walker - For a long time Gary Neville was the de-facto right-back choice in all-time Premier League XIs, now however, that de-facto choice is Kyle Walker. He has been the best the division has for the best part of the last decade.

Virgil van Dijk - While no longer the undisputed best defender in the world, you can't deny that Van Dijk is still pretty damn good. He's been a transformative player for Liverpool.

Ruben Dias - The new king of centre-backs, Dias came back from injury mid-way through last season and was one of the main reasons Manchester City won the treble. A stunningly good defender.

John Stones - A few years ago John Stones would've been nowhere near this 25-man squad. Now, he's one of the first players that you'd think of. The England international can play at centre-back, centre-midfield and full-back, you can't ask for much more than that.

The seven defenders inducted into Welcome to World Class
The seven defenders inducted into Welcome to World Class / Briony Painter | 90min


Kevin De Bruyne - The Belgian racked up 31 assists last season as Manchester City won the treble. 31. That's completely and utterly ridiculous. De Bruyne is undoubtedly one of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history.

Jude Bellingham - You know a footballer is pretty special when, after signing him, Real Madrid completely changed their tactical system to get the best out of him. You also know a footballer is pretty special when he scores five goals in his first four games for Real Madrid. That's how special Bellingham is.

Rodri - The Spanish midfielder is one of the favourites for the 2023 Ballon d'Or award thanks to his stunning form at Manchester City. He's the key midfield cog in one of the greatest teams European football has ever seen.

Ilkay Gundogan - Gundogan gets into this squad thanks to, like many others in this team, his imperious form for Manchester City. He's now at Barcelona and becoming a crucial player for Xavi's side too.

Luka Modric - Quite literally one of the greatest footballers of all time. Modric has an elite midfielder for the last 15 years and, while his career is now winding down, you'd still be remiss to not have him in a 25-man squad like this.

Federico Valverde - There may be not better sight in football than Federico Valverde winding up for a pop at goal from 30-yards out. On top of that, Valverde is also an extremely dynamic runner in midfield and can pick out a pass with the best of them.

Bernardo Silva - In a lot of ways Bernardo Silva is the unsung hero of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City team. He's popped up with crucial goals through the years and can also play in a number of positions.

Casemiro - Rodri may have taken his crown as the 'best defensive midfielder in the world', but that doesn't mean Casemiro isn't still world class.

The eight midfielders inducted into Welcome to World Class
The eight midfielders inducted into Welcome to World Class / Briony Painter | 90min


Harry Kane - The England captain has left Tottenham as their all-time top goalscorer in search of silverware at Bayern Munich. Kane has long been one of the best number nines around.

Lionel Messi - The greatest footballer of all time. Of course Lionel Messi is in this squad. How could he not be?

Erling Haaland - The best way to quantify how utterly ridiculously good Haaland is is by looking at his stats: in 2022/23 he scored 52 goals in 53 appearances, in 2021/22 he scored 29 in 30, and in 2020/21 he scored 41 in 41. Outrageous.

Victor Osimhen - Osimhen is the most coveted striker in the world right now, and for good reason. The brilliant number nine fired Napoli to their first Serie A title in over 30 years last season, and has started this campaign on fire too - banging in three goals in three games already.

Kylian Mbappe - Every once and a while a footballer comes along with all-time great potential - Kylian Mbappe is that type of footballer. The France international has scored the biggest goals in the biggest games during his short career - four in World Cup finals alone - and he's undoubtedly going to be the undisputed best in the world once Messi hangs up his boots.

Mohamed Salah - The 'Egyptian King' has gone from a Chelsea reject to one of the best wide players in the world over the last decade, and has now firmly cemented his legacy as an all-time great at Liverpool.

Vinicius Junior - Signed as a 17-year-old for £40m, it was pretty obvious that Vinicius Junior was destined to become a megastar. Fast forward six years, and that is certainly the case. Vini has been one of the most remarkably effective players in the world over the last two seasons - bagging 45 goals in that period.

The seven players inducted into Welcome to World Class
The seven players inducted into Welcome to World Class / Briony Painter | 90min