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Friday Cannon Fodder: redraft

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FC Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One Photo by Alex Caparros - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Sorry I’m a bit late this morning, but the snow / ice outside and the pandemic told me it was a good morning to take an extra bit of sleep. Self-care is important.

Anyway, today’s CF comes from a thought and short discussion I had in one of the other SBNation soccer slack channels. Please suspend your disbelief about the mechanics of how all this might work and just embrace the exercise. In it, we’re redrafting footballers, with everyone available to be selected.

Who would your top pick be? Who would be the guy around which you want to build your team?

For me, it’s a slightly different question than “who is the best player in the world” because of the teambuilding aspect. You need to consider talent, age, position, and a handful of other factors. Leo Messi might still be the best player in the world. I’d never pick him in this draft hypothetical because he’s already starting to decline and how many years does he really have left as a top professional footballer?

Position is important, too, and that’s why Virgil Van Dijk would probably be my third pick, assuming he comes back healthy and none the worse for wear from his injury. Having the best centerback in the world on your team is such a huge advantage, much moreso than any other position.

Except when the players at those positions are truly special. That’s why I’d take Erling Haaland second and Kylian Mbappe first. They’re the odds-on favorites to be the next Messi-Ronaldo debate for who is the best in the world. They are both generational talents, but I think that like the Messi-Ronaldo debate, Haaland-Mbappe will have one that ends up in the conversation for greatest ever, while the other will be “stuck” in the Top 50 (or so) all-time.

Kylian Mbappe is a phenomenal footballer, already capable of doing pretty much everything on the football field, and he’s only 22-years old. He’s got his best seasons still ahead of him. He plays the game at a different speed than nearly everybody else on the pitch and still manages outrageous levels of individual skill while playing at that speed. He’s the guy I’m taking first in my redraft, and it’s not particularly close.