Ranking the Strongest 15 Players in World Football

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IFebruary 18, 2014

Ranking the Strongest 15 Players in World Football

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    Strength is not the most important attribute in modern football, that much is true. But, on a cold wet Wednesday night against a Tony Pulis-inspired Stoke side at the Britannia, would you rather have Adebayo Akinfenwa or Lionel Messi by your side as you fight for Premier League survival?

    You'd still take Messi? Well, that's your prerogative, but the simple fact is the former would almost certainly win you the game with a monstrous demonstration of physicality. Okay, maybe that's not entirely true. 

    While that may be said in jest, strength should never be under-appreciated as an asset in football and in recent years we have seen some truly giant players excel due to a combination of extreme power and impressive technique.

    Here at Bleacher Report, we thought it would be a good idea to salute some of these footballing goliaths and thus, over the next few pages, we attempt to rank some of the strongest players in the game at the present time.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the rankings, feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. We do, though, advise you do not tell any of the players featured to their face should you disagree with their inclusion. It's for your own safety.

15. Eliaquim Mangala

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    One of the rising defensive stars of European football, Porto's Eliaquim Mangala is set to be one of the biggest names of the summer transfer market this summer.

    Indeed, for whichever club he eventually joins, Mangala will be a true heavyweight addition. Tall, built like an ox and impressive on the ball, it is easy to see why he is attracting attention.

    Mangala faces competition in the French national team from the likes of Kurt Zouma when it comes to physical prowess, but for the moment is more than holding his own.

14. Giorgio Chiellini

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    If they were ever to remake the film Gladiator using footballers, Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini would be a shoo-in for the title role, such is his relish for hand-to-hand combat.

    In fact, one suspects that the Italy international would have been quite willing to try his hand at the real thing had the legendary games of the Coliseum continued to this day.

    Chiellini leads through example and readily puts his body on the line for his team. He may be foolhardy and certainly brave, but his physique is ideally suited to his preferred defensive style.

13. Mamadou Sakho

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    "It’s funny, he (Brendan Rodgers) calls me Killer," Mamadou Sakho told Le Parisien, per the Daily Mail, in what must have been of the stranger interview revelations of the season.

    "Killer" Sakho may not actually be a homicidal maniac, but he certainly looks to have the brute force of one who could snap you in half with one hand akin to Lenny in John Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men.

    He still has some areas of his defensive work that could do with a touch up here and there, but he certainly cannot be accused of slacking during gym sessions.

    Nor, indeed, did he let up during his Liverpool medical according to the Mirror's David Anderson.

12. Victor Anichebe

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    Despite never having boasted anything approaching an exceptional scoring record, West Brom forward Victor Anichebe has forged a now lengthy career in the Premier League.

    He may not score many goals, but he does unsettle defences. At 6'3" tall and almost as broad, he has unnerved some of the league's best defenders on a semi-regular basis over recent years.

    He may lack the talent of some of the strikers who appear later in this list, but determination and physicality have helped him make the most of the natural ability he possesses.

11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    The epitome of having "good touch for a big man", mercurial talent Zlatan Ibrahimovic also happens to be one of the most stacked players in football.

    That such a giant can manipulate a football with such deftness and grace is mind-blowing, but he is also not afraid to mix it physically with opponents if required.

    While he has always had his doubters in England, there can be no doubting that he would have had the attributes to thrive in the Premier League if the chance had arisen.

10. Christian Benteke

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    Chris Smalling is by no means small or weak, but was famously sent tumbling to the turf by a Christian Benteke shoulder charge during one of the most commonly shared gifs of the 2012-13 Premier League season.

    The Belgian is a physical phenomenon and seems to relish any opportunity to throw his weight around in attacking areas.

    While his form has dropped off this year, he remains a much feared attacking threat for the simple reason there is little way to stop him when he builds a head of steam.

9. Micah Richards

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    Micah Richards burst onto the scene as a teenager who could seemingly play any position to great effect thanks to his all-round skill set and well-developed physical form.

    While his career has not developed quite as had been expected, he remains one of the strongest and most powerful players in the Premier League.

    He is in danger of not fulfilling his early potential, but certainly cannot be accused of failing to step up to the physicality of top-level English football.

8. Didier Drogba

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    Didier Drogba, when at his peak, resembled a cannonball at the point of the Chelsea attack, using every ounce of his sizeable mass to his advantage from set-piece situations.

    The Ivorian was one of the first of a new breed of No. 9 that combined immense physicality with no small amount of technique, paving the way for those who have followed.

    To put into context how strong Drogba can be, he famously risked physical harm to slap Nemanja Vidic in a Champions League final. He is both brave and aware of his own power.

7. Romelu Lukaku

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    Since the age of 16, when he first broke through at Anderlecht, Romelu Lukaku has been roughly the size of a small country house and uses that bulk to his advantage at every opportunity.

    His idol is the aforementioned Drogba, and Lukaku bares many similarities with the Ivorian, including his ability to unsettle any defender in world football when at the peak of his form.

    Only recently out of his teens, Lukaku lacks the experience of his illustrious predecessor and is still learning to use his incredible mass. If anything, though, he is a step-up in size.

6. Yaya Toure

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    In the picture above, Yaya Toure is telling Joe Allen with the gentle wave of his arm that he should avoid venturing any closer. Should he foolishly ignore the gesture, he will be swatted to the ground without the Ivorian so much as batting an eyelid.

    Toure has spent recent seasons rampaging through Premier League midfielders like a raging bull, but only when in possession and only when he deems a match worthy of him breaking a sweat.

    A giant of a man with wonderful technique, he has become the prototype for powerful midfielders the world over.

5. Chris Samba

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    Throughout his time at Blackburn, Chris Samba represented somewhat of a wall at the heart of the defence. While that wall may have appeared to be crumbling at Queens Park Rangers on his last spell in the Premier League, he remains a significant obstacle.

    Samba, when fully fit, remains a man mountain that dominates the landscape of the penalty area. While he may not be the most comfortable on the ball, he certainly excels at knocking others off it.

    Tipping the scales at 100 kilograms, he is as close to an immovable object as a Premier League defence has seen.

4. Victor Wanyama

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    Kenyan Victor Wanyama is the highest-ranking top-level player in our list and also, interestingly, the highest-ranking non-Nigerian.

    Well over six-feet tall and the width of your average two-door fridge-freezer combo, he is one of a new breed of mobile but immensely powerful midfield players in the Premier League.

    Southampton have missed his presence immensely during a recent injury spell and, let's face it, he leaves a considerable hole in his absence.

3. George Elokobi

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    Left-back is the traditional home of the small, weedy kid who is not really good enough to play elsewhere but has plenty of pace.

    Supposedly weighing in at 90 kilograms of pure muscle, despite being just 5'9" tall, George Elokobi is the antithesis of that assumption.

    The Wolves full-back is almost as broad as he is tall and is not shy in exposing his remarkable physique. Any opponent will certainly know they have "been in a game" to quote the common footballing cliche.

2. Danny Shittu

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    That man in the photo is no NFL linebacker, that would be one-time QPR and Bolton centre-back Danny Shittu.

    At his prime, the Nigerian was an excellent Championship defender and swatted off opposing strikers like flies on a weekly basis.

    His biggest issue, exposed at Premier League level, was that he has the turning circle of a small oil tanker.

1. Adebayo Akinfenwa

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    The phrase "built like a tank" was first invented for this man, or it should have been.

    Adebayo Akinfenwa, a veteran of the English lower leagues, puts the mass in massive and has humiliated countless opponents over the years.

    Just look at the size of those arms!