The end of the 2021/22 campaign is almost upon us, and what a season it has been.
Going into the final day, the Premier League title, final Champions League spot and final relegation spot are all yet to be decided.
There’s been no shortage of entertainment since the action kicked off last August, but the following 20 players have impressed the FFT team more than any others.
20. Conor Gallagher
Gallagher’s loan move from Chelsea to Crystal Palace has been a resounding success, with the 22-year-old enjoying a breakout season to win the London club’s Player of the Year award and earn a nomination for Premier League Young Player of the Season.
It’s been a year to remember for the youngster, who won his first England caps in November and has scored eight goals for Patrick Vieira’s side from midfield.
19. Andy Robertson
The Scotland captain has enjoyed another superb season at Anfield, hitting double figures for assists for the third time in four years and chipping in with two goals.
Widely considered one of the best in the world in his position, Robertson also received the backing of Alan Shearer, who said he’s “got to be a player of the season contender”.
18. Cristiano Ronaldo
In what has been a grim season for United fans, the return of Ronaldo has at least provided some moments to cherish.
The Portuguese superstar scored twice on his second debut for the club and never looked back, finding the net 18 times in the Premier League, including two hat-tricks.
Rio Ferdinand called his omission from the Player of the Year shortlist “laughable”, with only Mo Salah and Son Heung-min scoring more than Ronaldo this season.
17. Diogo Jota
Although Luis Diaz has grabbed some of the limelight off Jota since his January arrival, the Portuguese forward has made a huge contribution to Liverpool’s impressive Premier League campaign.
With 15 goals, Jota sits joint-fifth in the scoring charts, level with team-mate Sadio Mane, and he's had a taste for the big games too, finding the net against Manchester United, Arsenal (twice), Spurs, Man City and Merseyside rivals Everton.
16. Mason Mount
Mount has been the standout player in a season of near-misses for FA Cup and League Cup runners-up Chelsea, becoming only the fifth Blues player ever to reach double figures for goals (11) and assists (10) in a Premier League season.
His strike against Everton in December made him the youngest Chelsea player to reach 20 Premier League goals too.
The 22-year-old has been nominated for the Young Player of the Year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pick up a second Chelsea player of the year award in a row, either.
15. Jarrod Bowen
The attacking star of a memorable season for the Hammers, this has been the best season of Bowen’s career as he supplied 12 goals and 12 assists to become the first West Ham player since Paolo Di Canio in 1999/00 to hit double figures for both in a single season.
That form saw him pick up a nomination for the Premier League Player of the Season award, while he picked up the Players’ Player of the Year prize at West Ham’s end of season awards.
14. Joel Matip
Virgil van Dijk is often the Liverpool defender who grabs the plaudits, but Matip deserves a huge share of them too after an eye-catching season playing alongside the Dutchman.
Matip’s form was rewarded with the Premier League player of the month award in February, and he’s turned into an unexpected attacking threat during the run-in, scoring crucial goals against Aston Villa and Southampton.
13. Bernardo Silva
Things have changed quickly for Silva at City. The Portugal international almost left the club last summer, but it’s just as well he stuck around, as the midfielder has been a sensation for Pep Guardiola’s side this season.
Team-mate Gabriel Jesus called him “one of the best players in the world” in November following his superb form at the start of the season, and Silva has been consistently excellent throughout a fantastic league campaign for the Citizens, scoring eight goals in 34 games and earning a place on the three-man shortlist for City’s player of the year alongside Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.
12. Bukayo Saka
Saka has continued the fine form that saw him named Arsenal’s Player of the Season last year, scoring a career-best 11 Premier League goals for the Gunners – more than double his previous best of five.
Aged just 20, Saka’s future looks bright. He became the second-youngest Arsenal player to reach 10 Premier League goals, after Nicolas Anelka, when he hit a brace against Norwich on Boxing Day, and he was among the nominees for the Premier League Player of the Season award announced last week.
11. Declan Rice
The England international has captained West Ham for much of the season, leading them to European qualification with all-action midfield displays that earned him comparisons to Roy Keane from Jamie Carragher.
“He's not just a holding midfield player, he drives forward with the ball. He is more than a sitting player,” the Liverpool great said.
Rice picked up the Hammer of the Year award for a second time after making 35 league appearances, scoring one goal and providing four assists.
10. Alisson Becker
Jurgen Klopp has described the Brazilian as “the best goalie in the world”, and another campaign of stunning saves and composed consistency between the sticks makes it hard to argue with that assessment.
Alisson’s pin-up moment came in a different competition - his FA Cup final penalty shoot-out heroics against Chelsea - but he sits joint-top of the clean sheet table alongside City’s Ederson, with 20 in 35 league games, having faced more shots and made more saves than his compatriot.
If he can get one more in the final game of the season, Alisson will equal the club record for clean sheets in a Premier League season, which he set himself in 2018/19.
9. Joao Cancelo
Cancelo’s third season at City has been his best yet; the Portugal international has excelled on either side of Pep Guardiola’s defence, provided seven assists in 35 Premier League appearances, and racked up more minutes than any other player.
Cancelo’s form and importance to a wonderful City season was recognised when he was nominated on an eight-man shortlist for the Player of the Season award last week.
8. Harry Kane
After a disrupted summer of transfer speculation, Kane started slowly with one goal in his first 14 league matches.
But since then, the England captain has become Mr. Consistent once again under Antonio Conte – although he’s not quite been able to keep pace with his partner-in-crime Son Heung-min.
The duo became the Premier League’s highest-scoring partnership ever in February when they combined to score for a 37th time, and Kane’s personal contribution this term has been 16 goals and eight assists – a haul that has helped push Conte’s side to the brink of Champions League qualification.
7. Virgil van Dijk
The towering Dutchman made an impressive comeback from a long injury lay-off this season, quickly returning to his previous imperious form despite missing most of last term through injury.
Van Dijk has made 34 appearances, scored three goals, and helped the Reds concede just 25 goals all season – four of which were shipped during the three matches the centre-back missed. A colossus for Klopp’s side.
The reliable rock at the heart of Guardiola’s band of entertainers, Rodri has played a key part in City’s astonishing league campaign, providing metronomic passing in midfield and a high work-rate, as well as chipping in with six goals.
The Spaniard has been a somewhat unsung hero for the Citizens, having not made the club’s fan-voted Player of the Year shortlist, but Gary Neville recently described him as “City's best player all season, outstanding."
5. Trent Alexander-Arnold
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and remember that Alexander-Arnold is still just 23 years old.
A stalwart of Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering side over the last five years, the England full-back has been back on top form this term.
The defender has scored twice in the league, including a 25-yard rocket against Newcastle, while he’s been at his creative best by providing 12 assists, second only to team-mate Mo Salah’s 13 in the Premier League.
4. Son Heung-min
Son is still in the running for his first Premier League Golden Boot, as he heads into the final game of the season against relegated Norwich on 21 goals, one behind the league's top scorer Salah.
The South Korean has again excelled alongside Kane for Spurs, and the duo became the highest-scoring strike partnership in Premier League history in February when Son’s strike against Leeds marked their 37th goal combination.
3. Sadio Mane
It’s been a year to remember for Mane, who led Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory in February, midway through what has been another outstanding campaign domestically.
The winger has notched 15 goals in 33 games, a record only bettered by Mo Salah, Son Heung-min, Ronaldo and Kane.
He’s also found the net at crucial moments, including in both legs of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal, and against Man City in both head-to-head league clashes and the FA Cup semi-final.
2. Kevin De Bruyne
Man City’s midfield maestro has been the star man of their title charge this season, despite having a disrupted start to the season due to injury and coronavirus.
The Belgian really hit his stride in December, scoring 13 of his 15 league goals and notching all seven of his assists since then.
De Bruyne also took just 24 minutes to score his first City hat-trick when he put four past Wolves in May, scoring each of them with his ‘weaker’ left foot.
1. Mo Salah
The dazzling Egyptian has enjoyed yet another spectacularly productive season: he has scored more than 20 league goals for a fourth year in the last five to close in on a third Golden Boot, picking up the FWA Player of the Year award in the process.
He also hit his 100th Liverpool league goal in September, becoming the fastest player in club history to reach that landmark (151 games), notched a hat-trick away to rivals Manchester United, won the FA Cup and League Cup, and netted eight goals in Europe to fire the Reds to the Champions League final.
Salah is already an all-time Premier League and Reds great – and he’s only 29.
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