Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar: Who are Europe's best players this season?

  • Kobe Tong

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been proving that age is just a number in Serie A this season.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Swede was content with winding down his career when he swapped Manchester United for LA Galaxy in 2018, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Having, in his own words, taken over the MLS single-handedly with an astonishing record of 53 goals in just 58 appearances, Ibrahimovic took it upon himself to return to the European game.

Zlatan thriving back in Milan

There was plenty of skepticism surrounding Ibrahimovic’s reunion with AC Milan and they seemed to be justified as goals proved difficult to come by during his first few games back in Italy.

However, it didn’t take long for Ibrahimovic to raise two fingers to claims he was finished, eventually finishing the 2019/20 campaign with 11 goals from 20 games – and things have only kicked on since.

In fact, Ibrahimovic, despite now being 39 years old, currently leads the goal-scoring charts ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile in Serie A with 10 strikes from only six appearances.


Ibrahimovic holding his own

Yeh, seriously. The former Barcelona striker was up to his usual tricks against Napoli on Sunday, too, scoring twice during an impressive win for the Rossoneri as they top the Serie A standings.

His first strike particularly caught the eyes of football fans as he converted an outrageous header from around the edge of the penalty area, proving that he really does age like a fine wine.

And it seems as though Ibrahimovic’s impact this season hasn’t been limited to the Italian top flight because his statistics are really thrusting him amongst some of Europe’s most elite footballers.


How does Ibrahimovic compare?

Here at GIVEMESPORT, we were keen to contextualise just how fantastic Ibrahimovic has been throughout 2020/21 and average match ratings from WhoScored.com highlight that superbly.

The football gurus produce match ratings for every player for every game in Europe’s top five leagues based on a series of data-sets, allowing fans to compare various superstars using statistics.

And where does Ibrahimovic rank? No less than second place across all performers in the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 across the season, which is simply staggering.


Europe’s top 15 players this season

You can check out the top 15 down below to really appreciate the much younger superstars with whom Ibrahimovic is rubbing shoulders as he approaches his 40th birthday.

15. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) – 7.78

14. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (AS Roma) – 7.79

13. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – 7.80

12. Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) – 7.82

11. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) – 7.87


10. Zinedine Ferhat (Nimes) – 7.92

9. Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo) – 7.91

8. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – 7.97

7. Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin) – 7.98

6. Erling Braut Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) – 8.07


5. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – 8.17

4. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) – 8.28

3. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – 8.36

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) – 8.41

1. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – 8.66


Zlatan rolling back the years

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi, for those wondering, finds himself all the way down in a lowly 22nd place.

We’ve all seen quotes from both Ibrahimovic himself and those who work with him raving about the Swede’s apparent immunity to father time, but these statistics are perhaps the clearest proof yet.

Just as it looked as though Ibrahimovic, understandably so, had kissed goodbye to the highest level of the game, he’s not just proven himself as capable of managing, but equipped to truly thrive. 


It would be a season for the history books if Ibrahimovic can help inspire AC Milan to their first Scudetto since his initial spell at the club and perhaps bag himself a Golden Boot along the way.

There’s still a long way to go, it must be said, but even if Ibrahimovic went the remainder of the season without scoring a single goal, notching 11 strikes at 39 years old is simply remarkable.

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