TEAMtalk Soccers: European Player of the Season

Date published: Monday 30th May 2016 11:41

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We kick off the eight annual TEAMtalk Soccers awards by presenting the prize for the European Player of the Year – with your winner claiming a landslide victory.

We’ve asked you – our readers – to vote on our 10 categories – and you’ve let your voices be heard in your hundreds on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

To begin the ceremony, Oli Fisher steps up to the podium to present your European Player of the Year.

Records have been shattered, careers have been recovered and ultimately a lot of goals have been scored, as we take a look at your top five selections from across the Continent……

5. Gonzalo Higuain

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Serie A fans knew it would take a special kind of player to break Gunnar Nordahl’s 66-year-long record as the top single-season goalscorer, but that’s exactly what Gonzalo Higuain did.

Just when it looked like a suspension had ended the Argentine’s search to break the 35-goal barrier, he responed with six goals in the last three league matches, including a dramatic last-day hat-trick agaisnt Frosinone to topple the Swede’s record.

It seemed the Naples club were destined for the top until Juventus’ run of 73 points out of 75, and the former Real Madrid man was a key component in this, regularly stringing together runs of goals and just generally being unplayable in a notoriously defensive league.

His statistics could have been even better had Napoli chosen not to rest him for the Europa League, where he still managed to notch two goals in five appearances.

Mauricio Sarri better be on red alert. Plenty of teams could use a striker like Higuain…

4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Proclaimed by some as the fastest player in Europe, Aubameyang has certainly blitzed the Bundesliga defences en-route to 25 league goals this season.

The Gabon international started the season firing on all cylinders, bagging in the first eight league games and 12 of the first 14, amassing 17 goals in the process.

This helped Dortmund to a well-earned second place finish, in which they pushed ruthless Bayern Munich all the way with free-scoring football and consistent results, although ironically a 0-0 draw against Bayern was what effectively ended the chase.

His performance against Spurs in the Europa League last 16 showed English football fans exactly what he can do, as the 26-year-old scored three goals over the two legs on his way to eight for the tournament.

Imagine this guy in the Premier League, it would be one hell of a watch…

3. Antoine Griezmann

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The French star just moves from strength to strength, and this season he has added to an already impressive repertoire of statistics with another bolster year.

The Atleti star has 90 La Liga goals in his career at the age of just 25, and has showed remarkable consistency, scoring over 15 league goals in each of the last three seasons.

In 2015-16, Griezmann backed up his 22 goal debut season in the Spanish capital with another 22 goal season, adding three assists to his tally in 2014-15 with nine, ensuring he has settled in to his time with the Rojiblancos perfectly after a move from Real Socieded.

He blotted his copybook somewhat with a missed penalty in Saturday’s Champions League final – before redeeming himself slightly by converting in the shootout – but that cannot take away from what has been a stellar season for the in-demand Frenchman.

He produced a clinical display in the Champions League quarter-finals at the Vicente Calderon, scoring his third brace of the competition to knock out eventual league champions Barcelona.

No wonder Premier League clubs are queueing up to poach him, and if he has an impressive Euro 2016 in his home country there might be reason for Atletico to worry about losing yet another star striker…

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

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A man who just keeps on delivering is none other than the unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having done it at the top level for Real since 2009, there is no denying that CR7 is one of the greatest ever, and he has back this up with another stellar season in La Liga. Ronaldo scored 35 goals in 36 league matches and contributed 11 assists.

The 31-year-old set the tone for another landmark season with a five-goal haul in the third match of the season away at Espanyol, and went on to notch two more hat-tricks as Real had to settle for second place.

But that wasn’t even the most impressive statistic. The Portuguese star has scored 16 Champions League goals, including three hat-tricks, leading Real to the Milan final. The Portuguese star’s performance in the Milan showpiece came in for criticism, but given he was only around 70% matchfit after suffering an injury scare in the build-up to the game – the fact he completed 120 minutes and converted the decisive penalty in the shootout, tells you all you need to know about the mentality of the man.

He is the kind of player you run out of adjectives for. 364 goals and 115 assists in just 348 games for Real Madrid ensures Ronaldo will stay on centre stage for a long long time.

1. Luis Suarez

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Your winner, by an overwhelming majority, is Barcelona’s star striker Luis Suarez.

Having joined the Catalans from Liverpool in 2014 for a fee of £65million, there were perhaps a few reservations about what the ‘flawed genius’ could do under a bigger spotlight in Barcelona.

The Uruguayan has delivered on a grand scale however, amassing 59 goals in 53 games in all competitions for Barca this season, an incredible record.

Forming one-third of the illustrious and deadly Messi-Neymar-Suarez trio, and a side that won 30 of 38 La Liga matches, scoring 110 goals in the process.

A controversial character he may be, but there is no question Suarez has packed plenty of punch this season, and is a deserved winner of this award.

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