Ranked! The 14 best players outside the Premier League's top six
14. Pascal Gross (Brighton)
Mohamed Salah's extraordinary exploits on Merseyside mean he'll go down as the signing of the season, but Gross has arguably been the best value acquisition of 2017/18. The ex-Ingolstadt schemer cost Brighton less than £3m last summer, a fee he's fast repaid with five goals and eight assists in the south coast side's maiden Premier League campaign.
The consistent quality of Gross's final ball sets him apart from many other creators in the lower rungs of the division. Even if Albion avoid the drop this term, the 26-year-old could be playing his football at a higher level next season.
13. Mario Lemina (Southampton)
This time last year, Lemina was just two months away from appearing in the Champions League final; now, the former Juventus man finds himself in a battle to avoid relegation to the Championship. Lemina made a fine start to life at Southampton, showcasing the range of midfield qualities which first brought him to Juve's attention in 2015, but he's been dogged by inconsistency in recent months and was actually dropped altogether for Sunday's defeat at Arsenal.
Still, the Gabon international is the type of midfielder who's able to contribute in all phases of the game. Powerful, skilful, dynamic and intelligent, he can win the ball back for his side and create chances going forward.
12. Marko Arnautovic (West Ham)
Arnautovic was in danger of becoming West Ham’s scapegoat earlier in the campaign, when the former Stoke man was criticised by supporters and pundits alike for a perceived poor attitude.
He’s looked a different player since David Moyes replaced Slaven Bilic in the London Stadium dugout, though, and over the last few months has reminded everyone what he’s capable of. The Austrian is strong, athletic and technically gifted, can play anywhere across the forward line and has nine goals and four assists to show for his efforts this term.
11. Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
It’s difficult to accurately compare midfielders of Gueye’s ilk with more attack-minded players, but there’s no doubt that the Everton man’s role is just as important as those who put the ball in the net.
The Senegal international was a rare bright spot for Aston Villa in their dismal relegation campaign of 2015/16, and he’s made further strides since swapping Villa Park for Goodison. Only Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi has managed more tackles per game in the Premier League this season.
10. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Sigurdsson hasn’t enjoyed the most productive of seasons; the Iceland international has scored a handful of excellent goals, but hasn't exactly lived up to his £50m price tag. At his best, though, the ex-Tottenham and Swansea man is comfortably one of the finest players outside the top six.
Sigurdsson’s set-piece delivery is up there with the best in the league, and he’s also capable of fashioning scoring opportunities in open play – even if he doesn’t really contribute enough to be a top-six regular. Everton are a poorer side without him.
9. Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)
A Champions League and Europa League winner with Chelsea, Bertrand probably would have anticipated playing more than just one European game for Southampton since his arrival on the south coast in 2014. Saints have consistently challenged towards the top for four seasons, but in 2017/18 they've been mired in a relegation battle from start to finish.
Bertrand remains one of Southampton’s key men, though, and the left-back has often been one of their chief attacking threats in a disappointing campaign. His athleticism allows him to get up and down the flank for 90 minutes, while his deliveries from out wide are usually on the money.
8. Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)
Lanzini has been in and out of the West Ham team this term, with injuries limiting his availability under both Bilic and Moyes. There’s a reason that the Argentine was linked with a move to Liverpool as Philippe Coutinho’s replacement, though: he's a gifted playmaker who can convert as well as create.
The 25-year-old has scored 17 goals and set up another nine in his three Premier League seasons, while he’s also adept at leading the press and regaining possession in advanced areas.
7. Richarlison (Watford)
Richarlison has faded in the second half of the season, which was to be expected after a blistering start to the campaign under Marco Silva. There aren’t too many Brazilians who make the direct jump from South American club football to the Premier League, but the former Fluminense winger hit the ground running after touching down on English soil.
Five goals and four assists is a respectable return for a Premier League debutant – all of which came in the first half of the campaign – but the 20-year-old’s swagger has caught the eye most. Richarlison is a tricky dribbler capable of beating his man with fancy footwork or powerful running, and will only get better in the coming seasons.