Cream of the crop
The current Premier League season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent times, throwing up some intriguing storylines throughout the division.
Many established stars are continuing to impress, while some promising youngsters and summer arrivals have already made a name for themselves. In this slideshow we pick out the 101 players in the league right now...
101. Dwight McNeil (Burnley)
Burnley aren’t exactly famous for bringing through the next generation of talent, but McNeil has been a welcome exception.
The winger made his breakthrough last season and has now nailed down a place in Sean Dyche’s side at the age of 19, earning his first England Under-21 call-up in the process. His direct dribbling and left-footed crosses are a key part of Burnley's attacking strategy.
100. Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Doherty has been a survivor of the squad overhaul that has occurred at Wolves since Chinese investment group Fosun International rocked up in July 2016.
The right-wing-back has been a regular pick under Nuno Espirito Santo, playing a crucial role in their Championship promotion season before starring on their return to the Premier League.
99. Lewis Dunk (Brighton)
Ambitious Dunk targeted an England call-up after Brighton’s promotion in 2017, and one year later that became a reality when he debuted for the national team in a friendly against the USA at Wembley.
International recognition was testament to a fine debut season in the Premier League, which resulted in links to clubs like Arsenal and Leicester over the summer. He's started well under Graham Potter too, thriving in either a back four or three-man defence.
98. Emiliano Buendia (Norwich)
Norwich’s pocket-sized playmaker saved his best performance for the shock win over Manchester City in September after chipping in with 17 assists on the way to the Championship title last season.
His team have tailed off since then and are currently rooted to the foot of the table, but Buendia remains essential to their chances of survival.
97. Adama Traore (Wolves)
Traore's talent has never been in doubt, but there are tentative signs that this could finally be the season where he lives up to his potential. The jet-heeled attacker has excelled as both a wing-back and wide forward at times this term, most notably in Wolves' 2-0 victory over Manchester City in October.
Traore will never be the most polished of players, but the steady improvement in his end product has been notable. Spain have taken notice too, including the former Barcelona youngster in their most recent squad.
96. Josh King (Bournemouth)
Not much was expected of King when he arrived at Bournemouth ahead of the 2016/17 season on a free transfer, after he'd failed to register a league appearance for Manchester United before a forgettable spell at Blackburn.
His 16-goal haul in his debut Premier League season was something of a surprise, then, and the Norwegian has continued to be a key player for Eddie Howe since then.
95. Tom Heaton (Aston Villa)
Burnley conceded 14 fewer goals with Heaton between the sticks instead of Joe Hart last season, as the goalkeeper helped Sean Dyche’s team clinch Premier League survival.
An £8m move to Aston Villa followed and history is on his side; the last time he featured for a newly-promoted team, in 2016/17, Heaton made the most saves in the league. He remains one of the division's best custodians outside the big six.
94. Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
Redmond featured in all of Southampton’s league games last season and remains one of their key players despite sometimes being accused of inconsistency.
Pep Guardiola is a fan, having praised the winger in 2017 before angrily complimenting him in a bizarre on-pitch exchange with the winger. “Last season he destroyed us here,” the Catalan said. “I didn’t know him last season, I realised how good he is.”
93. Declan Rice (West Ham)
At 20 years of age, Rice has already established himself as a favourite of England boss Gareth Southgate thanks to his care of the ball in possession and an assuredness beyond his years.
The midfielder finished last season with a pass completion rate of over 86 per cent, while also averaging three tackles per game. Although he still has improvements to make, Rice has what it takes to be an excellent all-rounder.
92. Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Patricio missed just 90 minutes of football for Wolves last season, making a name for himself as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers in the process.
The Portugal international took no time at all to adapt to English football and helped his new side to the fifth-best defensive record in the league last season – and a Europa League spot. He's started this season in a similar vein, helping Wolves into the top half of the table after 12 games.
91. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle)
Lascelles has consistently put in good performances since returning to the Premier League with Newcastle in 2017 but is yet to be recognised with an England call-up by Gareth Southgate.
His leadership helped the Magpies stay up last season and he is often called upon to unite a club that remains affected by off-field matters. Steve Bruce will need him to maintain his consistency if Newcastle are to avoid the drop again this time around.
90. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Eddie Howe took Fraser to Bournemouth while they were in League One, and the Scot was an inconsistent and irregular member of the Cherries squad until he exploded onto the scene last season.
He played in every game under Howe in 2018/19, scoring seven goals and providing 14 assists – leading to interest from Arsenal before he stayed put. Fraser has been a little disappointing so far this term but remains an excellent winger on his day.
89. Felipe Anderson (West Ham)
Anderson quickly justified his £36m price tag last season with some glorious displays that saw the Hammers faithful take to the Brazilian quickly.
The winger ended his first term in England with 10 goals and five assists and now, although he's yet to hit those heights in the first few months of 2019/20.
88. James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Tarkowski is the archetypal Burnley defender. Strong in the air, good on the ground and a handful in both boxes, he combines grit and guile to make him one of the best centre-backs in the division.
The England international has struck up a good understanding with similarly underrated Ben Mee, ensuring that the Clarets remain a difficult team to play against.
87. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City)
Zinchenko’s form had Benjamin Mendy warming the bench for a long while. The Ukrainian, originally an attacking midfielder, has drifted back towards his own goal since arriving at the Etihad for just £1.7m back in July 2016.
Zinchenko has become an excellent full-back, capable of overlapping to provide width or coming infield to take up central positions.
86. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester)
Pocketing £80m from the sale of Harry Maguire to Manchester United representing excellent business for Leicester, but many expected the loss of the England international to lead to a downturn in their defensive performance.
In fact, the opposite has happened, with Soyuncu stepping up admirably alongside Jonny Evans. Comfortable on the ball and aggressive in the tackle, the Turkish stopper is already a fans' favourite at the King Power.
85. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)
Dubravka has been imperious since joining Newcastle from Sparta Prague, initially on loan, in January 2018.
The towering goalkeeper – a former winger – has attracted the attention of some big clubs after demonstrating his competence at playing out from the back. He's also adept at dominating his penalty area and is a fine shot-stopper to boot.
84. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
Mings' January arrival was instrumental in helping Aston Villa return to the Premier League last season, and the defender impressed so much that the newly-promoted club paid £20m to make the move permanent.
Previously an out-of-favour left-back at Bournemouth, Mings has been converted into a central defender in the Midlands - and to great effect.
83. Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Rose revealed recently that he will join team-mates Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in running his Tottenham contract down.
That's a shame, because the England international has been a key man for the north London outfit for much of this decade. It's true that his form has declined in the last couple of years, but working under Jose Mourinho could do him a world of good.
82. Jordan Pickford (Everton)
England’s No.1 hasn’t missed a second of Premier League football since joining Everton in 2017 and makes up for his (relative) lack of height with superb reflexes and excellent distribution skills.
It's true that he hasn't been quite as impressive since a brilliant World Cup in 2018, but Pickford remains his country's first-choice glovesman for a reason.
81. Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham)
The Colombia international started the 2019/20 campaign poorly with some bad individual errors against Aston Villa and Arsenal, but he's looked more assured of late.
Sanchez can still be erratic at times, but his athleticism gets him out of many tricky spots, and he's extremely difficult to beat in one-versus-one situations.
80. Nick Pope (Burnley)
Pope has made a superb return to the Burnley team after missing the entire 2018/19 season with a dislocated shoulder.
Tom Heaton was an excellent goalkeeper for the Clarets, but there's a reason that Sean Dyche was willing to let him go in the summer. Still only 27, Pope has a bright future ahead of him.
79. Willy Boly (Wolves)
Other than the odd five-goal humping against Chelsea, Wolves have made a name for themselves as one of the Premier League’s tougher sides since coming up in 2018.
Boly was the cream of the defensive crop as he helped the Molineux club to European qualification last term, chipping in with four goals as well as a string of impressive defensive performances. Wolves will miss the towering centre-back, who is out for several months after breaking his leg.
78. Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham)
With Christian Eriksen’s days numbered at Spurs, Lo Celso was signed to be the future of their midfield. He arrived in north London with a fine reputation, but the Argentinian has been restricted to just a single Premier League start so far this term
The former Real Betis creator has the talent to climb higher up this list, and he'll hope to do just that under Jose Mourinho in the months to come.
77. Teemu Pukki (Norwich)
Pukki scored 29 goals to fire Norwich to promotion last term, and he began 2019/20 with a bang after finding the net five times in his first three outings in the Premier League.
He hasn't quite been able to keep up that scoring rate, adding just one more goal to his tally since August, but Pukki has shown himself to be an all-round centre-forward who also excels at bringing others into play.
76. Jonny Evans (Leicester)
In an age where Harry Maguire costs £80m, Evans is a rare example of good value for money, having arrived at Leicester from relegated West Brom last summer for £3.5m.
The former Manchester United man has proven to be an astute acquisition and arguably had a better season than Maguire overall last term. The early signs for this year are also excellent, with the Foxes currently boasting the best defensive record in the Premier League.
75. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
Doucoure’s talents are no secret to regular Premier League viewers, and he was again in demand over the summer as Everton tried a big deadline-day bid for the Frenchman.
That was unsurprisingly turned down, but the 26-year-old does harbour ambitions of playing at the highest level. He hasn't been at his best so far in 2019/20 but Doucoure still has a big role to play as Watford seek to avoid relegation.
74. Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Christian Eriksen has received the most attention of Tottenham's contract rebels, but Vertonghen is another whose uncertain future has effected the north London outfit this term.
As a result, the Belgian is no longer an automatic starter, and it will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho uses him after replacing Mauricio Pochettino in the dugout. Vertonghen has been one of Europe's leading centre-backs in recent years, though, adept at starting his own team's attacks and halting opposition's.
73. Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)
Lanzini is back after an injury-ravaged campaign with a new four-year contract to his name and is determined to make up for lost time.
The Argentina international is a versatile creator, capable of playing anywhere behind the striker in Manuel Pellegrini's system. His creativity will be key if West Ham are to climb into the top half of the table.
72. Lucas Moura (Tottenham)
A hero of Spurs’ Champions League run last season, Moura has saved his best performances for Europe despite finding the net 10 times in the league in 2018/19.
His second half hat-trick against Ajax to book Tottenham a place in the final was undoubtedly the highlight. He's had a mixed start to the current campaign but could be one of the Spurs players to thrive under Jose Mourinho.
71. James Milner (Liverpool)
Milner appears to have access to the fountain of youth, as he still plays with the same dynamism and energy aged 33 that he did when he was breaking through at Leeds.
The midfielder used to be reductively regarded as a hard worker and not much more, but that opinion has finally been revised and he’s excelled in a variety of roles under Jurgen Klopp – selfless and ultra-professional as ever.
70. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)
Schmeichel has been a constant figure amid the chaos (good and bad) at Leicester over the last decade. The Dane is now in his eighth season with the Foxes and in that time has worked under eight managers, been nominated for FIFA goalkeeper of the year, won the Premier League title and starred in the Champions League.
Leicester are attempting to return to Europe's premier competition under Brendan Rodgers this term, and Schmeichel has contributed to their excellent defensive record in the first three months of 2019/20.
69. Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Who saw this coming? The Frenchman became a figure of fun after his £30m arrival in 2016 but has since transformed into one of the Premier League’s most effective midfielders.
“You have to look forward, try to improve, keep fighting and one day the thing will change,” Sissoko said in an interview with the Guardian. “I never wanted to leave Spurs. I knew that I could have success here.”
68. Sebastien Haller (West Ham)
Real Madrid might be wondering if they signed the wrong Frankfurt forward after Luka Jovic’s struggles to adapt to life at the Bernabeu.
Meanwhile, his former team-mate Haller is settling in nicely at West Ham, scoring goals and showing strength, mobility and unselfishness that makes him the perfect man to lead the line in east London.
67. Fabian Schar (Newcastle)
Newcastle fans understandably adore Schar, who has been a standout performer in some bleak recent seasons for the club.
The Swiss won six official man of the match awards for the Magpies last season and was a big reason they conceded just 48 goals - the joint-seventh-best in the league. He's excelled under Steve Bruce this year too, with Newcastle once again battling against the drop.
66. Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Lindelof has recovered from a difficult debut season at Manchester United to establish himself as a regular pick at centre-back.
Two seasons after his big-money move from Benfica, the Swede is beginning to forge a promising partnership with new arrival Harry Maguire at the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence.
65. John McGinn (Aston Villa)
McGinn didn’t need long to make an impact in the English top flight, scoring against Tottenham on the opening weekend, and he was at it again with strikes against Arsenal and Burnley.
The Scotland international is a Swiss Army knife of a midfielder; technically gifted, tenacious and a fine passer who strings Villa’s moves together. A ridiculous bargain at £3m.
64. Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
Barnes rarely gets the respect he deserves, but after an impressive start to his fifth Premier League campaign it’s high time that changed.
Unselfish, hard-working and has excellent technique, Barnes bagged 12 goals for Burnley last season and has found the net five times after 11 appearances this term.
63. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal)
We don’t know yet just how good Pepe is, but the Ivorian was a standout performer in Ligue 1 last season and gave Kylian Mbappe a run for his money for the Player of the Season prize.
He’s already made a name for himself in the Premier League by becoming the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in 50 games, even if his all-round performances haven't yet set pulses racing in north London.
62. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Now in his seventh season at Tottenham, Lloris remains one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League.
His kicking has always attracted criticism, but the 32-year-old World Cup winner is reliable more often than not. Currently sidelined with an elbow injury, he'll likely return as Spurs' No.1 when he's fit again.
61. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard’s side haven’t looked defensively sturdy so far this season, but the Chelsea boss knows that life will get easier once Rudiger is back from injury.
The Germany international was one of the Blues’ standout players last season, arguably only being outperformed by Eden Hazard, but was forced off 45 minutes into his return against Wolves. He should be back soon to help shore things up at Stamford Bridge.
60. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal)
Ceballos’ outrageous piece of skill in an early-season clash with Burnley made him an instant favourite among the Arsenal faithful.
That might have been a bit premature as the on-loan Real Madrid midfielder has failed to maintain that level of performance since, but Unai Emery will be relying on his fellow Spaniard to grow as the season goes on and light up more matches with his undoubted quality.
59. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)
Guendouzi broke through with Arsenal last season and has since been rewarded with a call-up to the France squad.
He's dynamic, creative and composed despite being just 20 years old and his talent was on display as he put in a man of the match performance against Tottenham in September.
58. Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
Martial is yet to fulfil his potential as he enters a fourth season with Manchester United, despite going on a scoring run of five games last term under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He missed the first few weeks of this season through injury, but the Frenchman has impressed since returning to the team, combining well with Marcus Rashford as United attempt to climb into the top four.
57. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Pulisic's Chelsea career started slowly, as Frank Lampard opted to hold him back after a busy summer which involved leading the United States to the Gold Cup final.
The former Borussia Dortmund forward has exploded into life recently, though, notching a perfect hat-trick against Burnley and also finding the net in clashes with Watford and Crystal Palace.
56. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Grealish has completed a remarkable transformation from fun-loving youngster to inspiring captain at Aston Villa.
The midfielder has relished his role of responsibility and his performances were key to Villa’s promotion last season. His quality has never been in doubt but he's now proving himself to be an effective performer in the top tier.
55. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard’s midfield prodigy, who impressed under his guidance on loan at Derby last season, has begun the Premier League campaign in fine form.
Mount has met every challenge in his senior career with aplomb, winning Vitesse’s player of the year award in 2017/18, reaching the play-off final with Derby in 2018/19 and now earning England caps in 2019/20. The attacking midfielder has four goals and an assist to his name so far this season.
54. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)
It’s easy to forget Ndidi is only 22, as he’s already closing in on 200 club appearances in which his ball-winning abilities have earned him rave reviews.
He led the league for tackles last season, as well as being in the top three for interceptions, and if he continues to improve in possession under Brendan Rodgers then the Foxes could find themselves fighting to keep hold of him.
53. Jorginho (Chelsea)
Jorginho became a scapegoat for Chelsea’s problems last season, but in reality he’s one of the best possession-oriented midfield players in the English top flight.
The Italian is gifted with superb vision and close control and has impressed new boss Frank Lampard. “He can change a game, lead a game, own a game from midfield areas,” said the Blue boss. “He’s just a fantastic sportsman who cares deeply.”
52. Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Alli has struggled to live up to the standards he set in a superb 2016/17 season, when he scored 17 goals, and has also struggled with injury problems.
However, he remains a key player at Spurs and has turned in a couple of impressive performances of late. He's also the type of player who should thrive under Jose Mourinho.
51. Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Matip barely featured at Liverpool this time last year but he’s since established himself as an automatic first choice pick after pouncing on Dejan Lovren’s patchy form and the injury to Joe Gomez.
The centre-back is now a Champions League winner and partner-in-crime to the seemingly unflappable Virgil van Dijk, although he's currently nursing a knee injury that has allowed Lovren back into the side.
50. Nathan Aké (Bournemouth)
Ake is yet to miss a Premier League game since joining Bournemouth in the summer of 2017, since when he’s gone on to win the fans’ and players’ player-of-the-season awards.
The Netherlands international complements good defensive nous with excellent ability on the ball, thanks to his previous role as a midfielder. Chelsea inserted a buy-back clause into the deal that saw the centre-back move to the south coast, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them trigger it once their transfer ban is over.
49. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Jesus scored twice to help Brazil lift the Copa America for the first time since 2007 over the summer, to make up for a somewhat underwhelming club campaign on a personal level.
Competing with Sergio Aguero for game time isn't easy, but the Brazilian remains an important option for Pep Guardiola. His sharp movement and pin-point finishing have helped Jesus score three times in the league this season.
48. Ben Chilwell (Leicester)
Chilwell has rapidly grown into one of the Premier League’s most exciting full-backs since breaking into the first team from academy level during the 2016/17 season.
A real threat going forward, the 22-year-old has also improved the defensive side of his game now to become a viable contender for Gareth Southgate’s England team.
47. Fernandinho (Manchester City)
He may be 34, but the Brazilian’s importance to Manchester City was plain for all to see last season as his side fell to two of their four defeats of the season while he was absent for two matches.
Aware of the need to blood a long-term successor, Pep Guardiola brought in £63m man Rodri over the summer, who has since taken Fernandinho’s starting spot. The Brazilian has moved into the backline, where he's often looked like City's best central defender in Aymeric Laporte's absence.
46. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
Mahrez would be much higher on this list if it was based on pure ability, but in reality he has struggled to nail down a place in the City team.
He started just 14 matches for Pep Guardiola’s champions last season, contributing seven goals and four assists, but but has begun this term well and looks set for more game time with Leroy Sane out injured.
45. Richarlison (Everton)
Marco Silva wasted no time in bringing Richarlison with him from Watford to Everton after the Brazilian made an excellent start to life in England during the 2017/18 season at Vicarage Road.
The £50m transfer fee Everton forked out last summer was laughed at by many at the time, but Richarlison went on to score 13 goals in his debut season on Merseyside before helping Brazil to Copa America glory. Everton have stuttered at the start of thsi campaign, but the 22-year-old remains one of their chief attacking weapons.
44. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
He may have lost his place in the England team, but the versatile Walker remains a fine attacking right-back who helps to keep this terrific Manchester City ticking.
The 29-year-old has improved his positional sense and passing under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, but still manages to terrify opposition full-backs with his pace: a top speed of 22mph in setting up Gabriel Jesus on the opening day was faster than any recorded in the entire 2018/19 season.
43. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)
Spurs’ record signing also happens to be the player the fans have been crying out for as he fills the void created by Mousa Dembele’s departure in January.
The former Lyon man introduced himself to the Premier League with a goal and assist in his first two games before injury disrupted his fast start. He's now back in the team, providing dynamism and creativity in the centre of the park.
42. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)
Kepa became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when Chelsea forked out £72m for his signature last summer, but he has since gone on to show why such faith was placed in him.
The Spaniard kept 14 clean sheets in the league and made important saves in the EFL Cup and Europa League penalty shoot-outs against Tottenham and Frankfurt respectively. Chelsea haven't been the most defensively solid side under Frank Lampard, but Kepa will still hope to match least season's tally of shut-outs.
41. Ricardo Pereira (Leicester)
Ricardo is a classic modern full-back who can support attacks down the flank and make up the ground to cover his defensive duties.
The Portugal international made the fourth-most tackles in the division last season as well as providing six assists, winning the club’s player of the year award. He and Ben Chilwell is arguably the best set of full-backs in the Premier League aside from Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
40. Joao Moutinho (Wolves)
It wasn’t entirely obvious how Moutinho would fare in the Premier League. He was 31 when Wolves signed him for a paltry £5m, and despite his pedigree as Portugal’s third-highest-capped player of all time, had never played domestic football outside of his home country or France.
But fans needn’t have worried: Moutinho (now 33) was exceptional alongside his compatriot Ruben Neves, and he remains just as integral in 2019/20.
39. Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
A Mexican hotshot with a passion for lucha libre, Jimenez was a surprising revelation of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign. He’d arrived on loan off the back of an underwhelming season at Benfica (six goals in 33 games), but proved to be one of the season’s finest signings with 17 goals in all competitions.
Strong, a fine finisher and adept at bringing team-mates into play, Jimenez is one of those strikers who centre-backs hate to face.
38. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Zaha was heavily linked with moves to Premier League rivals Arsenal and Everton in the summer, and even asked to leave his boyhood club, but the Ivorian didn’t get his wish.
The winger has zero goals and one assist to his name this season, but he remains one of the division's most dangerous dribblers and a key source of creativity for Palace.
37. Ruben Neves (Wolves)
Opposition sides have learned the hard way that giving Neves any space on the edge of your penalty area can be fatal. It doesn’t really matter how far out he is: the Portuguese central midfielder only deals in screamers and will punish you accordingly.
The 22-year-old has scored nine goals from outside the box since joining Wolves in 2017, and Manchester United were his latest victims in August. He doesn’t get too many – Neves’s talents are grounded in pinpoint passing and those raking long balls he loves – but when he does, you’ll remember it.
36. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
For a 21-year-old, Rashford shoulders an awful lot of pressure. His explosive breakthrough in 2016, when he scored braces on his Europa League and Premier League debuts, set the bar high and now every touch he makes is examined ruthlessly.
It's true that Rashford has been below par at times this campaign, but he's performed well alongside Anthony Martial in recent weeks and has a respectable goal tally of six in 12.
35. Youri Tielemans (Leicester)
Getting Tielemans on a six-month loan deal for the second half of 2018/19 was a coup for Leicester, let alone tying him down to a permanent transfer for £40m this summer. The Foxes weren't the only club interested after the Belgian had a hand in seven goals across his 13 Premier League matches at the King Power, but the 22-year-old liked what he’d seen in Brendan Rodgers’ promising side.
Tielemans is now part of an exciting young midfield alongside the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury, and Leicester’s bid to crack the top four will depend a lot on him.
34. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Who is the real Pogba? The one who plundered eight goals and assisted two more from Boxing Day to early February? Or the one who meanders around midfield being frustratingly ineffective for an underachieving Manchester United far more than expected?
We're no closer to an answer, with the World Cup winner having missed most of this season through injury. World-class on his day, United will look to the former Juventus man to drag them back into the top-four race.
33. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Wilson’s start to Premier League life was miserable. In the September of his first top-flight season (2015/16), he ruptured his ACL. The striker returned, eased into life – and then crocked the ACL on his other knee in February 2017.
He's now making up for lost time, notching 14 goals in 30 games last term and finding the net five times so far in 2019/20.
32. Rodri (Manchester City)
Rodri was a smart acquisition from Atletico Madrid by Pep Guardiola during the summer. Part of City’s struggles last season – which nearly saw them relinquish their Premier League crown to Liverpool – stemmed from a lack of alternative options to Fernandinho, but the 23-year-old has eased concerns over a long-term successor.
City didn’t hesitate to trigger his €70m release clause, and the Spain international is already showing Premier League fans what he’s capable of.
31. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
Despite Aldeweireld’s contract at Spurs coming to an end next summer, the Belgian is still an important figure in this Tottenham side. It’s a miracle he’s still around in north London, however, after no club triggered his £25m release clause in the summer.
Alderweireld remains one of the most formidable defenders in the Premier League, and will be a man in demand if he becomes a free agent next summer.
30. Georgino Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Wijnaldum was a mainstay in the Liverpool side which won the Champions League and racked up a record 97 points in the Premier League. He was arguably the team's standout performer in the first half of the season, and scored twice in the famous 4-0 victory over Barcelona.
The 28-year-old is one of the top flight’s most underrated players, surrounded by headline-hogging stars who dazzle for Jurgen Klopp’s side on a weekly basis, but it says a lot that the Holland international is virtually undroppable.
29. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
After a brilliant debut Premier League season for Crystal Palace in 2018/19, Wan-Bissaka earned a move to Old Trafford for a £50m transfer fee. He’s arguably already the second-best right-back in the Premier League – a terrific defender who tackles like a player possessed and is rarely bettered by opposition wide men.
The 21-year-old looks like a solid investment for the Red Devils, and adds to a ludicrous pool of England right-backs that also includes Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.
28. Lucas Digne (Everton)
Digne’s career was stagnating before he arrived at Goodison Park in 2018. Restricted to just 12 La Liga appearances for Barcelona, the Frenchman cut his losses and moved to the Premier League – where he was an instant hit with Everton fans.
Bernard’s propensity to drift inside frequently gives Digne an entire left flank to operate down. He's making full use of this privilege and has provided three assists so far this term.
27. Harry Maguire (Manchester United)
After two impressive seasons at Leicester, not to mention a headline-grabbing 2018 World Cup with England, Maguire finally got the big move he craved in joining Manchester United for a world record fee of £80m in summer 2019.
Maguire stands above his peers (often literally) thanks to his comfort in possession and ability to start attacks from deep, but the 26-year-old is also a terrific and domineering defender who should solve a long-standing problem at Old Trafford.
26. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s best buddy might not score quite any many goals as his Gabonese colleague, but the Frenchman is a more rounded footballer who assisted 10 goals for Arsenal last campaign while contributing 13 of his own.
The 28-year-old’s dribbling, hold-up play and finishing make him an excellent option up front, although he's missed several games this season through injury. Still, two goals in three Premier League appearances in 2019/20 is a fine return.
25. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
He’s not the most fashionable of footballers, but captain Henderson is an essential part of this Liverpool side pushing for their first title of the Premier League era. The 29-year-old has improved hugely under Jurgen Klopp’s management, filling the shoes of former captain Steven Gerrard brilliantly.
Henderson has demonstrated his versatility this calendar year, playing in front of the back four, as a No.8 and even on the right of midfield in recent months.
24. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Eriksen was desperate for Real Madrid or Barcelona to come calling in the summer, but neither did and the creative Dane will be a Tottenham player until January at least. His contract expires this summer, and Daniel Levy would be loathe to lose him for nothing.
The uncertainty over his future has contributed to Tottenham's poor start to the season, and Eriksen hasn't been at his best individually either. Nevertheless, there are few creative players better than him in the country.
23. James Maddison (Leicester)
Maddison has swiftly morphed from promising talent to midfield superstar. The 22-year-old arrived at Leicester from Norwich for £20m fresh from winning the Canaries’ player-of-the-season award, and slotted straight into the Foxes’ first team with an eye-catching debut at Old Trafford.
He's taken his game to another level so far this season, earning a maiden England call-up and registering four goals and two assists as Leicester push for the Champions League.
22. David Silva (Manchester City)
The Spaniard is now in his final season as a Manchester City player, having announced this summer that his 10th year at the Etihad would be a fitting way to call it a day.
Yet despite being 33, Silva remains one of the best midfielders in the Premier League – and certainly one of its all-time greats. Prodding, poking, finding gaps that don’t exist: few are capable of doing it better than the man they call Merlin.
21. David de Gea (Manchester United)
Ederson and Allison are relatively new kids on the block when it comes to the finest Premier League goalkeepers, but they have some way to go to match De Gea’s levels of consistency.
Manchester United have been heavily indebted to their Spaniard’s athleticism since Alex Ferguson retired – it speaks volumes that he was their player of the year in four of the five season that followed the Scot’s departure. He wasn't quite as good last season but remains an excellent shot-stopper.
20. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Abraham has emphatically answered the question of whether he or Olivier Giroud would lead the line for Chelsea this season with 10 goals in his first 12 league games.
The 21-year-old struck 26 Championship goals while on loan at Aston Villa last term and the Blues’ transfer ban has handed him the chance he deserves to lead the line for the club he joined at under-eight level. He's making the absolute most of that opportunity.
19. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Son had a memorable 2018/19, registering 12 league goals and seven assists – his best ever numbers for Spurs, despite missing several matches through international duty. His most significant achievement was winning the Asian Games with South Korea, earning Son and his team-mates exemption from military service.
Like many of his team-mates he hasn't been quite at his best this season, but there are few more dangerous forwards in the Premier League than Son.
18. Fabinho (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder was a terrific acquisition for Jurgen Klopp’s side last season, and the 25-year-old played a huge part in the Reds’ Champions League-winning season. Fabinho’s height is a useful asset for Liverpool, while his defensive solidity and neat play in possession help the star names ahead of him thrive.
Gary Neville recently hailed him as the Premier League’s finest defensive midfielder, saying: “He doesn’t sit back in games. These holding midfield players who just play horizontally, passing sideways, shuttling across, but Fabinho plays vertically as well."
17. Ederson (Manchester City)
A solid shot-stopper, comfortable with the ball at his feet but with an ability to punt a football very, very far upfield: Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is one of the top all-round goalkeepers in the world right now.
Despite not having the same on-field impact as other Manchester City players, the 26-year-old is still one of the most important men for Pep Guardiola’s team. His tidy distribution from deep is crucial to how City play, and it’s difficult to see him being ousted from between the sticks in Manchester for a long time indeed.
16. Alisson (Liverpool)
Football fans gasped at the £66m record fee (well, briefly) for Roma’s goalkeeper just over a year ago, then quickly forgot about their misgivings when they saw him play. After a ropy start when his Flatley footwork got him into trouble, Alisson settled in behind the league’s meanest defence.
The ghosts of former goalkeeping calamities were laid to rest as Alisson became only the fifth goalkeeper in Premier League history to record 20 clean sheets in a season – and although he's unlikely to beat last term's tally of 21 in 2019/20, he could help the Reds win the title.
15. Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
The 32-year-old Vardy is now entering his sixth Premier League season, but shows no signs of slowing down. The former England international hit 18 goals last season, despite admitting that he struggled to perform in Claude Puel’s conservative tactical system which led to Brendan Rodgers’ arrival in February.
He's been phenomenal under Rodgers, who's instructed the striker to concentrate on his work inside the penalty area. Vardy's responded tremendously and currently tops the scoring charts with 11 goals in 12 games.
14. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
It speaks to Bernardo’s dazzling quality that he managed to stand out in a Manchester City side that claimed its second straight league title, with the Premier League’s second-highest points total of all time last season.
The Portugal international made more appearances than any other City player, stepping beautifully into central midfield when key man Kevin De Bruyne was sidelined through injury. He's been a little quieter at the start of this season but remains a wonderful source of creativity - and one of the division's most entertaining players to watch.
13. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Scotland international Robertson has been nothing short of a revelation at Anfield. The left-back racked up 11 Premier League assists in tandem with Trent Alexander-Arnold last season, causing Jose Mourinho to remark after one of his final Manchester United games: “I’m still tired just looking at him.”
His rampaging runs down the left flank are a key part of Liverpool's attacking approach, and he's already racked up four assists so far this season.
Now a Champions League winner, the 25-year-old epitomises the hard running and endless desire of Jurgen Klopp’s breathless Reds side. Arguably one of the league’s most enjoyable players to watch.
12. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s season has been severely dented by a serious knee injury which will keep Laporte out for around six months. It’s got the potential to be a title-crippling blow: the centre-back’s form has been exceptional ever since he arrived from Athletic Club in January 2018, and he’s near-impossible to replace from within.
The stylish left-footed centre-half is adept at playing out from the back, defends with confidence and even pops up with an important goal every so often.
11. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
By his own freakishly high standards, last season was somewhat underwhelming for Kane. The England captain only managed 17 goals from 28 appearances, as injuries and constant chatter of fatigue halted his scoring rate. It’s been a fairly sluggish start to 2019/20 too.
Kane has still managed to find the net six times in 11 games, and his all-round centre-forward play ranks him among the best in the world in his position.
10. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Some sceptics wondered whether signing another striker so soon after the similarly expensive Alexandre Lacazette was a sensible use of the Gunners’ transfer budget, after Aubameyang arrived at the Emirates Stadium for £56m in 2018.
Fortunately for the Gunners, the Gabonese livewire has replicated the scoring form he showcased at Borussia Dortmund, registering 40 goals in 60 Premier League appearances and sharing the Golden Boot in his first full season at the club.
9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
“Mo Salah, world class but not every day. Sadio Mané, world class but not every day. Roberto Firmino, world class pretty much every day.”
Hard to find a better endorsement than that – not least when it comes from your own manager. Firmino is the string that links Liverpool’s exciting front three together, dropping deep to give Salah and Mané more space in behind and generally facilitating the excellence around him.
8. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Of those who have found the net at least 100 times in the Premier League, Aguero has the best minutes-to-goal ratio in Premier League history. While the striker is sometimes rotated in Manchester’s City starting line-up with fellow team-mate Gabriel Jesus, the 31-year-old is a clear first choice after adapting brilliantly to Pep Guardiola’s demands.
Aguero’s elusive movement and finishing precision make him one of the most prolific strikers in English football history. Consistency personified.
7. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
It's rare for a full-back to be so high up a list like this, but Alexander-Arnold is redefining the role. Liverpool's most creative player, the England international is a superb crosser of the ball from the right flank and equally capable of playing pinpoint passes into his forwards.
Alexander-Arnold recorded 12 assists in the Premier League last season - more than any other defender in the division's history - and has set up three goals so far this term.
6. N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea)
Find a person in the world who doesn’t love N’Golo Kanté. The diminutive Frenchman is a shy and retiring figure off the pitch, but transforms into a ruthless ball-winner on it and has demonstrated his class and consistency with different Premier League champions.
After being given more license to push forward under Maurizio Sarri last campaign, the 28-year-old was also able to display the more technical side of his game in registering four goals and four assists. He's continued in a similar vein under Frank Lampard, with Real Madrid reportedly sniffing around the Frenchman.
5. Sadio Mané (Liverpool)
Last season’s joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League has carried on where he left off, scoring seven goals in his opening 12 matches for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Senegalese forward’s direct running and link-up play with his Liverpool team-mates makes him one of the most feared forwards in the league – especially if you don’t pass to him, as Mohamed Salah found out at Turf Moor. Don’t be surprised if he manages to go one better and claim the Golden Boot on his own this year.
4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Anfield’s Egyptian king has enjoyed a positive start to the current season, scoring six in 11 matches to take his total up to 60 in 85 league games for the Merseyside club. Salah has also registered three assists in the Premier League, and looks well on course to reach double digits in both categories after narrowly missing out on that feat in 2018/19.
How do you stop him? It doesn’t matter if he cuts inside the defender on his left or bustles down the line to score with his right: Salah usually finds a way. Defenders don’t seem to have an answer.
3. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
After a couple of seasons filled with injury struggles, De Bruyne in back in his usual groove. The Belgian has nine assists for Manchester City already this season, with his incredible crossing from inside-right positions causing numerous problems for opponents.
Should De Bruyne stay fit, the 28-year-old looks primed for his best season to date at the Etihad Stadium. There’s simply no better passer in the Premier League.
2. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
The England winger is in the form of his life for club and country. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has helped bring Sterling’s positional play to new levels, and the 24-year-old – yes, he’s still only 24 – is now among world football’s greatest goalscorers at the very highest level.
“You look at young players who can be crowned the future best in the world and you still think of Neymar, Mbappe, Salah, and of course Sterling. I look at the moment – and Sterling is winning that race,” said former Barcelona midfielder Xavi recently.
1. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Who else? The towering Dutchman was one of the main reasons why Liverpool recorded 21 clean sheets in 38 Premier League games last season, continuing his transformative effect at Anfield and ending the campaign with Champions League victory to show for it.
No defender has won the Ballon d’Or since 2006, but Van Dijk doesn’t even have a World Cup win behind him for his 1/5 favourite status. He’ll likely win, keeping the Messi-Ronaldo in tatters – and he'll deserve it too. The 28-year-old instils Reds fans with a long-forgotten sense of confidence at the back, improving those around him and helping full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson thrive further upfield.
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