This season is still young as most teams have only played about 9-12 league games while there have been around 4 European matchdays. However, some players have shown quality and consistency in these early parts. Many have been good but some have been head and shoulders above their peers statistically and in performance. Using a 4-3-3 formation, we fit the players into the formation. The list only takes into consideration players in the top 5 European Leagues. We try to use significant statistics in measuring how well a player has been even though we use our basic test to gauge the player’s impact. For example, we use Post-Shot Expected Goals (PsxG) to measure goalkeepers, dribbled past stat for full-backs, and aerial/ground duels for central defenders.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, AC Milan
Donnarumma and AC Milan sit on top of the Serie A table. Since last season, the very vocal 21-year-old keeper has returned to the form he showed in his first 2 seasons after a tough period of bad performances. He has saved 82.6% of the shots he has faced in his league this season while it is poorer in Europe with 60%. The Italian National is a big part of why Milan is at the top of the table.
His PSxG is at +4.4 which is impressive. PsxG is currently the best measure for goalkeepers. It is the most accurate gauge of a keeper’s ability because it takes away clean sheets, saves per 90, and save percentages. It measures the likelihood of a keeper making a save based on where the shot ends up. He has saved 4 more goals than should have been. Manuel Neuer is close with +4.0 but Gigi has 2 times the clean sheets. His distribution continues to improve as does his cross-collection. (Alternatives: Manuel Neuer & Edouard Mendy)
Andrew Robertson, Liverpool
He has taken over from Marcelo as the best left-back in the world and he is vital to the Liverpool team. The Scotsman is dribbled past 0.9 times per game and has 1 goal, 3 assists to his name. He has also created 5 big chances in the league. His style is synonymous with the Liverpool team. Non-stop running, pressing, closing, and crossing. In the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold, he remains a threat on the left side making runs and whipping crosses. His set-piece delivery is also another asset Liverpool exploit. Robbo takes this spot as the best left-back. (Alternatives: Angelino & Lucas Digne)
Sven Botman, Lille
Luis Campos continues to show his mastery of the transfer market with signings like Sven Botman. Botman is a 6ft3 inch 20-year-old defender from the Netherlands that is indomitable. Luis Campos snapped him for a paltry 8 million Euros from Ajax after an impressive season with Heerenveen. He is a product of Jong Ajax. In 12 Ligue 1 games, he is part of a side that has kept 6 clean sheets while winning 73% of his aerial duels and 73% of his ground duels. Indomitable. He has more than replaced Gabriel Magalhaes alongside Jose Fonte at Lille. (Alternatives: Jules Kounde & Kurt Zouma)
Thiago Silva, Chelsea
O monstro has played in 6 Premier League games and he has recorded a clean sheet in 4 of them. He also has 1 clean sheet in 3 Champions League games. Apart from one giveaway against West Brom, he has been the calm at the heart of this resolute Chelsea defense. His anticipation and reading of the game is astute and he is still physically assured at 36 years of age. PSG’s decision to let him walk is looking so unwise now. He continues to lead his Brazil side at the international level and to show he deserves his place as one of the all-time greats.
Reece James, Chelsea
After the lockdown break, James returned a little top-heavy and could not usurp the right-back position from Ceasar Azpilicuea. This season, he has done that and has been one of the best in the world there. He wins 79% of his aerial duels which is incredible for his 5ft9 fame and he is dribbled past 0.9 times per game in the EPL. The 20-year-old Englishman can count himself unlucky for not having more assists as his crosses are a constant source of danger down Chelsea’s right side. His impressive performances at the club level have led to international call-ups where those good performances have continued.
N’golo Kante, Chelsea
The 3rd and final Chelsea player to make this list is Chelsea’s N’golo Kante. With Casemiro out of form, Wilfred Ndidi & Joshua Kimmich out injured, Thomas Partey unable to get some consistency at Arsenal, and Sergio Busquets declining, N’golo Kante has been the best holding midfielder around. Frank Lampard has switched his position, placing him as the anchor in a midfield 3 and Kante is reaching his highest levels in that position. Occasionally, he moves forward with the ball, but he is being used as a sitting midfielder. He has the highest amount of interceptions + tackles in the EPL playing this deeper position and he is showing once again why he is one of the best midfielders in the world.
Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
His style may not be the prettiest but it is effective. He is constantly trying to pass the ball forward, constantly trying to shoot and make things happen. Sometimes they come off and sometimes they do not come off but you cannot underrate his influence. This season, he has scored 7 goals and assisted 3 more in 9 EPL games while creating 6 big chances. In the Champions League he has 3 goals, 1 assist and he has created 3 big chances. He is an output machine and he is United’s best player at the moment.
Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
1 goal, 5 assists, and 5 big chances created in the EPL. 4 assists and 3 big chances created in the Champions League, De Bruyne is quietly having an impressive season even though the finishing ahead of him has been poor. He is still the best creator in the world and he has picked up from where he left off last season.
Mikel Oyarzabal, Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad sits at the top of La Liga and it is thanks to goals from their captain and academy product Oyarzabal. He has 7 goals ad 2 assists and he has created 3 big chances in the league. Oyarzabal is not your typical dribbling winger, he is intelligent and finds space for his runs which are very difficult to pick up. He loves to take the half-spaces to pull defenders towards him then combine with others before darting for the space behind opposition defense. His game is simple but he has mastery over it and has been one of the best around this season.
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa
Captain Jack has exploded at the international and club level. The tricky winger is a playmaker with the ability to decide a game on his own. His performance against Liverpool in the 7-2 demolition at Villa Park is one of the best individual showcases this season. He can control the game from the left side of the pitch or come inside to create havoc and mesmerize. He has outgrown and outshone all the criticism heaped on him from a young age to display his talent. Stats do not do justice to the impact he has on the pitch but they back it up. He has 5 goals and 5 assists in the league having created 7 big chances for his side. Arguably the best player in his league, he takes his place on our list.
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
The Polish striker is on course to win The Best FIFA Football Awards. 12 goals in his league and another 3 in the Champions League, the 32-year-old shows no sign of slowing down yet. Record after record, Lewandowski continues to show why he is the best 9 in Europe. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, and Harry Kane might come close to him right now but he still pips them to the spot. Critics will level accusations against his league and against the opponents he scores against but Lewandowski is still the master of the centre-forward position. His precision in finishing is elite, his movement to create space is incredible and his linkup play continues to be excellent. He takes the final spot on our list.