Football’s return has brought back some normality in what has been an utterly crazy year.
It’s been a joy to watch the world’s best players showcase their talents again. We’ve seen Lionel Messi score his 700th career goal and Cristiano Ronaldo score a couple of stunners for Juventus.
Some things never change.
However, neither Messi or Ronaldo takes the No.1 in Bleacher Report’s list of the 15 best players since football resumed behind closed doors.
They’ve picked 15 players who have starred over the course of May, June and July.
15. Marcos Llorente, Atletico Madrid
Llorente has played as a defensive midfielder for most of his career but he’s now been unleashed as a support striker by Diego Simeone, and has played a vital role in wins against Osasuna, Real Valladolid and Levante.
14. Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich
With two goals and one assist in behind closed doors action, Davies has been a revelation.
His speed makes him almost impossible to get past, as Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland found out.
Another Bayern player makes the list in the form of Kimmich.
The versatile midfielder has developed into a really smart player and has contributed goals and assists in the past month and a half.
12. Paulo Dybala, Juventus
Dybala has scored in every Serie A game he’s played in since the break.
His goals have helped Maurizio Sarri’s side establish a lead at the top of the table and has shown glimpses of Lionel Messi with some of his dribbles and finishes.
11. Paul Pogba, Manchester United
Pogba’s form might have been overshadowed by the performances of some of his teammates – including another midfielder who makes the list – but the Frenchman has been a consistent performer for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
His cameo off the bench against Tottenham in June was a reminder of his world-class ability.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
The 35-year-old has scored four goals in his past four games – and a couple of those have been beauties.
The 25-yard screamer against Genoa was followed by a superb free-kick against Torino, his first dead ball strike in 43 attempts.
9. Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich
Oh look, another Bayern Munich player.
Muller is deserving of his place on the list after returning to his old self.
Five of his 21 assists in the league this season have come post-lockdown, and he’s added a couple of goals in that time as well.
Muller has been given the licence to roam as the No.10 or off the right, and his expert movement is coming to the fore.
8. Kai Havertz, Bayer Leverkusen
The return of the Bundesliga didn’t go as planned for Bayer Leverkusen.
They missed out on a Champions League berth and as the first league to return, everyone began to take notice of Havertz.
It’ll now be very hard for them to keep him at the club.
The 21-year-old has played up front during lockdown and has showcased skills similar to that of Roberto Firmino, with his ability to drop deep and link play while also flourishing as a typical No.9.
7. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
Fernandes has arrived at Old Trafford and instantly injected added class and panache to Solskjaer’s side.
He’s scored four goals and provided two assists post-lockdown, but it’s not just in the numbers where his impact is noticeable.
The sight of him running the entire pitch to contribute in defence against Norwich in the FA Cup highlighted his worth ethic.
6. David Alaba, Bayern Munich
Alaba is now a full-time centre-back and he’s excelling in the role.
He’s emerged as the commander of the backline and is the glue that keeps Hansi Flick’s dominant defence together.
5. Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
Los Blancos have conceded just two goals in seven games since Spanish football came back, but it’s at the other end of the pitch where Ramos’ impact is most felt.
Ramos has scored FIVE goals across June and July as Real Madrid have established a lead at the top of La Liga.
4. Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
So long the supporting act, Benzema is now the star of the show at the Bernabeu.
The Frenchman has provided some decisive moments over the past few weeks, including goals against Real Sociedad and Valencia.
Then there was that no-look, backheel assist against Espanyol, which was a thing of beauty.
3. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
The best player in the Premier League right now.
Whenever he steps on the pitch, De Bruyne is head and shoulders above all else.
Watching the Belgian play right now is a delight.
2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Barcelona haven’t been at their best since football resumed, but Messi hasn’t skipped a beat.
It’s certainly not his fault that the Blaugrana look likely to miss out on the La Liga title.
He’s scored three goals and provided seven assists, with that panenka penalty against Atletico Madrid bringing up his 700th career goal.
Messi is still a genius.
1. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
The best player in the world since football returned is Bayern’s Lewandowski.
His return of 12 goals in 10 games is unbelievable and puts him in a strong position to claim the Ballon d’Or award later this year.
The Polish striker has showcased his ability to score a range of goals, including headers, sweet strikes and poacher’s finishes.
It’s time to put some respect on Lewandowski’s name.