PES 2018 may not have every official license in the world, but it does have permission to use real players and their likenesses, thanks to separately-owned rights and lots of other legal mumbo jumbo.
Those likenesses matter because it means that we can now list the very best players in the game at launch. Even better, we can argue over those ratings throughout the entire season! So, without further ado, here are PES 2018 best players - ranked by their Overall rating. Let the arguments begin!
PES 2018 best Goalkeepers
The position that you absolutely cannot do without. No matter how fancy a formation you want to play, you're going to want a keeper if you harbour any ambition whatsoever.
There are few rating surprises amongst keepers, with the usual suspects of Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and David De Gea leading the ratings. Thibaut Courtois at 88 could be considered a little generous, as could Hugo Lloris (the sixth best keeper in the game) at 87.
It's nice to see Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak finally make it into the top five above Lloris, however.
If you're looking to change team names so that Courtois is listed as a Chelsea player rather than a London FC one then we've listed in our PES 2018 real team name list, so you can edit away.
|Neuer||Free Agent (would be Bayern Munich)||91|
|Buffon||PM Black White||89|
|De Gea||Man Red||88|
|Oblak||Altetico De Madrid||87|
PES 2018 best Defenders
The lack of English Premier League defenders here is no surprise, the world's best at back playing across Europe's other top leagues. I've a serious soft spot for Sergio Ramos, so it's good to finally see one of the world's most decorated players of all time listed as one of PES 2018's best defenders.
You'll notice that each of the top five defenders all share an 88 rating. Juventus' Giorgio Chiellini also enjoys a deserved 88 rating, making it six players sharing the top spot. For our money, given his stunning performances over the past two seasons, Marcelo is very unlucky to not be rated at 90 or higher.
|Boateng||Free Agent (would be Bayern Munich)||88|
PES 2018 best Midfielders
Given their dominance over the last 20 months, it's no surprise to see Real Madrid players well-represented in top player lists - with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos included amongst the top five midfielders.
The inclusion of Mesut Ozil in this list is extremely suspect, not least because he's ranked higher than the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Andreas Iniesta, Isco and Marco Verrati (all 87). There's a debate to be had about Pogba and Vidal being listed so highly, too. N'Golo Kante at 86 is arguably the player most deserving of an upgrade.
|Vidal||Free Agent (would be Bayern Munich)||88|
Looking for more help? See our resources on PES 2018 potential wonderkids and best young players, real team names, the highest rated best players and, for PS4 and PC owners, how to download option files in PES 2018.
PES 2018 best Forwards
There can be no controversy whatsoever in seeing Messi and Ronaldo ranked as the best forwards in PES 2018, the two continuing to dominate world football in both stats and popularity.
Similarly, it's difficult to argue against Suarez taking the best-of-the-rest spot as an all-out striker - although Neymar is a better option for you if you're looking for a more versatile player for your front line.
Note that alongside Lewandowski, Bale, Griezmann and Ibrahimovic are also ranked at 90.
|Lewandowski||Free Agent (would be Bayern Munich)||90|
As per last year, Bayern Munich's absence from PES means there are some world class players available on the free free transfer market; Boatang, Lewandowski, Alaba and co will instantly improve most teams in a big way.
Additional reporting by Chris Tapsell