The best player in European football is a hotly-debated topic with the usual suspects always being mentioned.
Most people could probably give you a top three: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, maybe? But could you name a top 10?
Most people’s list would be similar with a few differences, which just comes down to personal preference - which players you like the most.
But if you were to base it on the players impact on their team and their results, the list might produce some surprise names.
Statistics don’t lie and WhoScored.com have provided us with a definitive top 10 for the season so far. There are definitely a couple of names in their that your average football fan might not have expected.
The top three are not that surprising with Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo claiming the top spots. Although some might argue the order of which they have been placed. After all, Ronaldo is the world footballer of the year, and only claims the third spot. But again, the stats don’t lie.
Messi has proved his superiority to the rest of the players in Europe so far this season but Chelsea fans will be pleased to see one of their stars in the top five.
Eden Hazard ranks fifth in the list, and out of the top 10, he has played the most games (26). He has undoubtedly been a key player for the Blues this season but there is no doubt that Chelsea would make a claim that a number of their players could be named as one of the best players in Europe.
Hazard, without doubt, has the potential to become one of the best players in the world, let alone Europe, and his creativity, goals, strength, technique and everything else that makes him the player he is makes him one of Chelsea’s best players. However, in Chelsea in the eyes of Chelsea fans he would have a tough job on his hands being named their player of the year.
The likes of Cesc Fabregas, for his number of assists and what he has brought to the team since the summer would make him a favourite. Also Nemanja Matic. The Serbian is one of, if not the most important part to Jose Mourinho’s puzzle.
What he brings to the team seems to be irreplaceable, as they seem to struggle without him. Chelsea fans might say he could be one of the best players in Europe for a different reason. It’s always attackers that get the plaudits, but a central midfielder like Matic is so important.
Hazard comes in fifth behind his Belgium compatriot, Kevin De Bruyne, formerly of Chelsea and now of Wolfsburg. De Bruyne has found the form that brought him to Chelsea in the first place again since joining the German club and his eight goals and 12 assists have catapulted his team to second place in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich.
Europe's rising talent
Neymar, Alexandre Lacazette and Franck Ribery occupy positions six, seven and eight. Everybody knows about the talents of Neymar and Ribery as they have been in the upper echelons of European and world football for some time now.
But a seventh place ranking for Lacazette may be one of the names that surprise some people, especially if you don’t follow French football. But the Frenchman has been a revelation for Lyon this season after having a good run last year.
Lacazette scored 15 goals in Ligue 1 last season from 36 appearances, but this season he has already beaten that total. The pacey 23-year-old has scored 21 goals in 23 appearances and looks to have a bright future ahead of him and thoroughly deserves his place in the rankings amongst Europe’s elite.
Next on the list is Arsenals’s Alexis Sanchez. He has been one of Arsenal’s best signings in recent years and at times at the beginning of the season, was carrying his team.
He singled handedly rescued points for Arsenal and was the only playing that looked like he was trying at times for the Gunners. He’s scored 12 goals in 22 appearances but has trailed off a bit in recent weeks.
Sanchez would probably be a lot higher on the list if his form in the first few months of the season had continued. However, putting in as much effort for his team as he was especially after having such a good and lengthy World Cup was likely to lead to a little bit of burnout.
Sanchez picked up a hamstring injury and it has stopped him getting back to his earlier form. But there is no doubt once he is fully fit again he will be having a big impact for Arsenal and confirm why he is considered one of the best players in Europe.
In tenth position, we find Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino. The 23-year-old Brazilian has had an impressive season so far in the Bundesliga and was actually given the same rating as Alexis Sanchez by Who Scored.
The rankings included De Bruyne, Lacazette and Firmino, three 23-year-olds who already competing with Europe's elite. Already being at such a high standard, the only way should be up for them from here. It will be interesting to see if they develop into players that can be challenge for the Ballon D'or in future seasons. Only time will tell.
Are stats the be all and end all?
This sort of list can spark debate amongst football fans as everyone has a player that they think is the best. There are players that are missing from the top 10 that people will think deserve a place but this list is only based on statistics.
Statistics can show how many goals and assists a player has but is a goalscoring striker any better than a clean sheet-keeping defender?
A list like this does lend itself to being focused on attacking players and after all, the attackers are normally the players that provide the excitement and entertainment for fans, but midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers shouldn't be forgotten for the talents they have.
Who do YOU think is the best midfielder in Europe? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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