We’re at the business end and awards season isn’t far off. We reckon the top four are still in with a shot of winning the individual gongs…
His five Champions League wins counted for very little among Premier League pundits as they questioned Manchester United’s decision to sign Luka Modric and Toni Kroos’ bumbling midfield brother. Imagine their surprise then when Casemiro ‘fixed’ the United midfield, just as he said he would.
Perhaps because we’ve seen him mainly in the Champions League – in which he has been more of a keep-it-ticking midfielder at the base of Real Madrid’s midfield – we’ve been a bit taken aback by his ability to get forward. And that unexpected trait has seemingly surprised the opposition this season, with his late runs from midfield proving very effective.
Add to that his magnetism from set-pieces and United have found themselves a player as brilliant in both boxes as he is at knitting everything together between.
9) Alexis Mac Allister
He’s enjoyed quite the season, playing and starring in all but the opener Argentina lost on their way to World Cup glory, scoring against Poland and assisting in the final against France. And in a search for one player to explain Brighton’s brilliance this season, most would pick him out.
He’s formed a Champions League-level central midfield partnership with Moises Caicedo, and both will have multiple offers from top European clubs when the summer transfer window opens. With box-to-box midfielders boasting both creativity and snap in the tackle once again coveted in top-level football, Mac Allister at £60m would be a snip.
Snore, amirite? 2048 passes – over 300 more than second-best Lewis Dunk. 91.3% pass completion – comfortably the best of any Premier League midfielder. Nearly 400 more touches than any other Premier League player.
It’s death by control and it’s not hugely exciting. But he is very impressive to watch and claims that it’s all a bit safe are nonsense, with Rodri also making the most progressive passes and passes into the final third of anyone in the league, with five assists and two goals to his name.
7) Bruno Guimaraes
Bruno, like all of Newcastle’s players, owe a huge debt of gratitude to their goalkeeper and centre-backs, all of whom have been superb this season and would likely have been included in a top 20. But Nick Pope, Sven Botman and Fabian Schar have in no small part thrived because they’ve been behind Bruno, who protects, collects and delivers in front of them in a delightfully simple yet skilful manner.
Ahead of what will likely be years of ins and outs at Newcastle as they build towards becoming a real force in European football, they need not consider a replacement for Bruno, who could grace any team in world football.
6) Harry Kane
The answer to ‘how the f*** are Tottenham fourth?’, Antonio Conte’s side would be mid-table at best without him. Kane’s scored 18 Premier League goals this season and that’s now so standard that no-one seems to have noticed.
After his failed attempt to push through a move to Manchester City, for which he garnered very little sympathy, the he-deserves-a-trophy chat is starting to emerge again. Manchester United have a Harry Kane-shaped hole that needs filling.
5) Marcus Rashford
‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’ is the phrase that comes to mind, but actually this isn’t a return to form for Rashford – he’s operating in a class above and beyond what we’ve seen before. Years after he was touted as being a £100m player, he is finally there.
He’s not, nor will he ever be, Kylian Mbappe. But he’s got the same unstoppable air when he picks up the ball on the left wing, with his confidence snowballing game on game.
4) Kevin De Bruyne
As is the case with Kane, it feels as though we’re becoming numb to De Bruyne’s brilliance. Even when he’s not at his best, which is currently the case, he’s still better than pretty much everyone else.
He started the season on fire, claiming nine assists in his first nine games, before a leaner time of it since has seen him notch just a further four. No Premier League player has made more key passes (76) or has more shot-creating actions (135).
3) Martin Odegaard
It’s quite difficult to hate Arsenal (apart from their manager of course), and Martin Odegaard is a big part of that. He’s fiercely competitive without ever going over the line. He controls games of football, but the way he keeps his emotions in check is perhaps what sets him apart.
He’s a brilliant captain and Mikel Arteta deserves huge credit for that call, with Odegaard’s appointment ushering in Arsenal’s meteoric rise.
2) Erling Haaland
Whether he’s made Manchester City better or worse is besides the point. You can’t deny the brilliance of the guy who will surely break the Premier League record for goals in a season.
1) Bukayo Saka
Give him all the money and all the trophies. He’s the Premier League’s best player and quite possibly the nicest man in the world.
Saka’s ability to wriggle free from challenges is extraordinary, his decision-making has been close to perfect this season and he’s the most makes-things-happen player in the Premier League. Love. Him.
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