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The Best Soccer Leagues In The World (Top 10 Ranked 2024)

The Best Soccer Leagues In The World (Top 10 Ranked 2024)

Debates about the best soccer leagues in the world have been ramped up a little in recent years, partly due to the increasing global presence of ambitious, wealthy domestic leagues such as the Saudi Pro League and Major League Soccer. Those divisions have attracted stars like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Busquets, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, but what has been the impact? How much has the global picture of elite-level football been changed?

In this article, we'll be examining that question by guiding you through some of the best soccer leagues in the world and offering some insight into the balance between different national leagues across the planet. We'll take in domestic competitions in various continents and ultimately let you know what the world's best league is, ranking the top 10 soccer leagues in the world and mentioning some of the key clubs competing in those leagues. 

How Many Professional Soccer Leagues Are There In The World?

Over the course of the last 50 years, world soccer has become increasingly professionalised, and more and more money has been pumped into the game.

In total there are over 200 professional soccer leagues across the globe, although within this landscape there is a huge amount of variation in quality and competitiveness.

The vast majority of countries in Europe have a fully professional top division, and many have other professional leagues below the top flight (England is unique in having four fully professional football leagues).

In South America, famous footballing nations such as Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay all have professional soccer leagues, as well as Mexico, the USA and Canada in Central and North America.

In Africa, nations such as Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria all have extremely well-renowned professional leagues, and in Asia the Japanese J-League and the Korean K-League are closely monitored by talent scouts from across the world.

In total, this rich global landscape makes up a total of approximately 211 professional soccer leagues spanning South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. But what are the best soccer leagues in the world ranked?

What Are The Best Soccer Leagues In The World?

Over the last few decades, Europe has become the centre of global football, with most of the game's wealth accumulated by massive European sides and the majority of the world's best players eventually being purchased by teams in Europe's top five leagues.

Across the world, other countries — most notably Saudi Arabia and their heavily-resourced Saudi Pro League — are currently attempting to disrupt this balance and challenge European dominance by splashing crazy cash on the best talents across the globe.

However, while the Saudi league (and other global challengers such as the MLS in America) certainly seems to be improving, these leagues still remain a long way off the major European and South American top flights.

The countries in the world widely considered to have the best domestic leagues include England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. The exact order of these leagues will be explored in the next section of this article. 

The Best Soccer Leagues Ranked

The first thing to note here is that in most conversations between football fans, the answer to the question "what are the best soccer leagues in the world?" comes down to personal opinion. Debates will rage on forever about the pros and cons of different domestic leagues, and the respective quality of say, the Bundesliga or Serie A, can easily shift and change from season to season.

However, in order to make things as accurate as possible, we've chosen to build our rankings based on data collected by sports analytics giant Opta. The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that gives an ability score ranging from zero to 100 to over 13,000 domestic football teams from across the world. The list below is in line with this statistical evidence, the rankings determined by a process that sees each club in a given league rated out of 100 and an average team ranking for the league calculated as a result.

#1. Premier League (England)

It will come as no surprise to most football fans that the English Premier League is considered to be the best league in the world. Its teams are far richer than those in most other nations, its elite-level coaches are plucked from the best leagues across Europe, and its best sides regularly record Champions League success.

The EPL has four teams in the world's top 10, more than any other league, and the lowest-ranked Premier League Team (Luton Town in 116th place) are still ranked higher than nine Ligue 1 sides, seven Serie A teams, four La Liga teams and three Bundesliga outfits. The average Opta rating for a Premier League side is 87.2.

#2. Bundesliga (Germany)

Next up is the German top flight, which has been dominated by Bayern Munich in recent years. The fact that Bayern are ranked the world's second best team is important when it comes to understanding their placing here; although it's worth noting that there are several other top teams in this division, including RB Leipzig (ranked seventh in the world) and Borussia Dortmund (ranked 10th).

The average team rating in the Bundesliga is 85.4, another impressive figure.

#3. La Liga (Spain)

The might of Real Madrid and Barcelona means that many people would expect La Liga to rank higher, but their team average of 84.1 is dragged down slightly by the lower quality of the division's bottom-half teams.

Still, La Liga clubs continue to be threatening on the European stage, and the dazzling performances of English superstar Jude Bellingham mean that Real Madrid are likely to be gunning for the Champions League trophy this season.

#4. Serie A (Italy)

While the standard of football and level of finances may not be able to rival the Premier League in the way that it once did, there's an argument that Italy's top flight is the most competitive major league in Europe right now.

In the last four seasons, there have been four different Serie A champions: Napoli, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. This degree of competition bodes well for a league that was dominated by Juve for far too long.

#5. Ligue 1 (France)

The'res a serious gulf in glass between Ligue 1's undisputed top dogs PSG — with their mega bucks and world-famous superstars such as Kylian Mbappe — and the rest of the league.

This can often be a source of ridicule for the French top flight these days, although the general quality of the league is still good enough for them to break into the top five leagues list.

#6. Pro League (Belgium)

The so-called "Golden Generation" of Belgian players that the northern European nation placed so much hope on over the last decade — with stars such as Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois — never quite lived up to their potential on the world stage.

However, the country's league still ranks as one of the best in the world, with an array of talented clubs and a reputation for producing top players.

#7. Super League (Switzerland)

It will surprise many fans to see the Swiss league rated higher than other European top flights such as Portugal's or the Netherlands'. However, Swiss teams such as FC Basel, Young Boys, and Grasshoppers have a decent record in Europe and a reputation for developing top players who are then plucked by Europe's giant clubs.

#8. Primera Liga (Portugal)

Portugal has gained an impressive reputation as a country capable of developing a seemingly endless cycle of hugely talented young players, and their ranking reflects this fact. Serial league winners Benfica have a particularly fruitful production line, cashing in on talents such as Darwin Nunez, Enzo Fernandez, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Ederson thanks to their amazing talent factory.

#9. Eredivisie (Netherlands)

The Netherlands is another country that Premier League teams regularly look to when it comes to sourcing exciting young talent, from homegrown players like Cody Gakpo to foreign talents like Lisandro Martinez. They squeeze into the Top 10 at Number 9, just shy of the Primera Liga.

#10. Serie A (Brazil)

The only non-European league to feature in the top 10 world soccer leagues ranked, the Brazilian Serie A has a rich history and at its high point during the 1950s and 1960s was widely considered to be the best domestic league in the world. Nowadays, it's been surpassed by the vast wealth of the European game, but it still plays host to some world-renowned sides such as Palmeiras, Santos, Sao Paulo and Flamengo.

How will the state of the world's professional soccer leagues change over the coming years? The rise of the Saudi Pro League has disrupted the global transfer market and led the club up to 36th in Opta's rankings (with an average power rating of 70.0), while Major League Soccer (MLS) has increased its team average to 73.2, meaning the league scrapes into the world's top 30 with a rating of 73.2. But will these competitions ever be able to challenge Europe's best? Only time will tell.

If you're interested in finding out more about the different terms and descriptors that have developed over the years to describe the various leagues and competitions around the world we've discussed in this article, stick around.

One term that many fans throw about — sometimes even for the elite divisions we've discussed in this article — is "farmer's league". To find out more about why this phrase has entered the global football vocabulary, check out our article 'What is a farmer's league?'