Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez are conspicuous by their absence as Whoscored pick out their European Team of the Season.
With Riyad Mahrez named PFA Player of the Season in what many believed to be the tightest call for many years, there has been no shortage of impressive performers in the Premier League this season.
However, while the Algerian still boasts the highest statistical rating in England’s top-flight, he fails to take a place in the WhoScored.com European team of the season. So what of the best players outside of the Premier League? Here we reveal the highest rated XI of all players to make 20 appearances in one or other of the remaining top five leagues across the continent, with two very notable omissions.
Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) – 7.12 rating
While his chance of replacing Madrid legend Iker Casillas came under severe threat with los blancos’ pursuit of David de Gea last summer, Keylor Navas has not let the club’s interest in the United keeper deter him. The Costa Rican has had to bide his time for a chance, despite Casillas’ unconvincing form last season, and has well and truly proven capable of stepping up to the plate. Zinedine Zidane’s men may have conceded 32 goals this season to rank fourth in La Liga in that regard but Navas has bailed out his defence countless times. His 86 saves this season is fewer only than Athletic’s Gorka Iraizoz (87) of shot stoppers from La Liga’s top 6.
Djibril Sidibe (Lille) – 7.45 rating
23-year old Djibril Sidibe has developed year on year for Lille since a move from Troyes and is now les douges’ undisputed first choice right-back. The Frenchman has played a vital role in a sensational run of form for the club, with 6 consecutive wins leaving them with a shot of European qualification. With 4 goals and 3 assists this season, he also ranks among Ligue 1’s top 5 players for both tackles (113) and interceptions (110). Though his goal in the weekend’s Coupe de la Ligue final against PSG looked as though it may secure a shock result, before conceding a late second to the 10-man league champions, this has been a fantastic season for the full-back regardless.
Thiago Silva (PSG) – 7.60 rating
Sticking to Ligue 1, Europe’s highest rated centre-back this season when excluding the Premier League is PSG captain Thiago Silva. the Brazilian international may have weighed in with only one goal from 27 appearances but he has been a dominant force at the back for a side that has conceded just 18 goals all season. An average of 1.8 tackles per game may seem modest but Silva can rely upon his superb reading of the game, averaging 3.2 interceptions per game, while a remarkable pass accuracy of 94.5% is the best of any player in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid) – 7.52 rating
Given that Diego Simeone’s side have conceded just 16 goals in 35 matches this season, it’s no surprise that two of their defensive mainstays make the XI. The first is their commander in chief at the back, Diego Godin. Like Silva, he also excels in anticipating an opponent’s pass, averaging more interceptions per game than any teammate (3.3), with 3.1 aerial duels won per game also a high for the club this season. As a result, a total of 6 WhoScored.com man of the match awards is the most of any defender in La Liga.
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) – 7.65 rating
Following in the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne when it comes to players that have shone having not being given a fair crack of the whip at Chelsea, Filipe Luis has been fantastic since returning to Atletico. He is the highest rated full-back to make at least 20 appearances in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season, registering 4 assists along with impressive figures of 2.9 interceptions and 2.2 dribbles per game. Luis’ tackling, however, has been his strongest asset, with an average of 4.1 per game top of all players in La Liga.
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – 8.15 rating
His season may have been disrupted by injury this season, restricting the Welshman to just 21 league appearances, but had it not this would likely have been the campaign that Gareth Bale was truly accepted as a success at Real Madrid. From said outings Bale has scored a superb 18 goals and registered a further 10 assists, directly contributing to a goal every 56 minutes of action. Interestingly enough, that’s a considerably more frequent contribution than Cristiano Ronaldo (every 73 minutes), with an outstanding 24% conversion rate almost twice that of the Portuguese international (14%). It seems the former Tottenham man may yet be able to take over the reins from the 31-year old.
Paul Pogba (Juventus) – 7.77 rating
He may have started the season in underwhelming fashion by his already exceptional standards but Paul Pogba has since been a catalyst for a truly stunning recovery from Juventus. The Old Lady secured a fifth successive Scudetto at the weekend, with Pogba at the heart of a run of 73 points from a possible 75. Indeed, the Frenchman has had a direct hand in a goal in each of his last 7 appearances, taking his league tallies to 8 goals and 11 assists for the season in the process to race clear as the highest rated player in Serie A.
Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) – 7.52 rating
Certain to be sorry to see the back of Pep Guardiola, Thomas Muller is one player who has really shone under the Spaniard’s tutelage this season. More often than not fielded in central midfield or a support role to the striker, the German has enjoyed far and away his most prolific season in front of goal to date, scoring 19 times in the Bundesliga as well as registering 5 assists. Averages of 3 shots and 2.1 key passes per game are both at their highest in his league career, while a further 8 Champions League goals have made it a season to remember for the 26-year old.
Neymar (Barcelona) – 8.40 rating
He may be playing second or third fiddle to Messi and Suarez at present but Neymar’s form this season, particularly in the early months of the campaign, has been key to Barcelona’s now feint advantage at the top of La Liga. His 23rd goal of the season at the weekend saw the Brazilian better his tally from the previous campaign, while a return of 10 assists is also his best in a season for the blaugrana. Having created almost 20 more chances (93) – 44 more than Ronaldo – and completed almost 20 more dribbles (128) than any other player in Spain – 68 more than Ronaldo – he takes the spot on the left in the XI ahead of, well, you know by now!
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 8.44 rating
The fact that this season will still go down as an underwhelming one by Messi’s astronomical standards in recent years is remarkable. He’s had a direct hand in a goal every 65 minutes this season, admittedly scoring fewer (25) than the likes of Suarez and Ronaldo but from significantly less playing time. Averages of 4.9 shots, 2.3 key passes and 3.7 dribbles per game all sit second in La Liga, while a total of 13 assists has ensured he has reached double figures in that regard in each of the last 7 Liga seasons.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) – 8.23 rating
While his feats this season will of course be put into context by the fact that Ligue 1 is undoubtedly lacking in competition compared to rest of the top divisions in Europe, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record this season remains sensational. With 32 goals he is still battling it out for Europe’s golden boot award, while a further 13 assists have seen the Swede directly contribute to a goal every 49 minutes in France’s top tier. A combined total of 45 goals and assists is almost double that of any other Ligue 1 player and enough to earn Ibrahimovic the third highest rating in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
By Martin Laurence
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with their new free-to-download app.