With European club football taking a break, cricmac.com takes a look at some of the outstanding players of the season so far.
As we head into the next round of international games, we’ve taken a step back to assess what we have seen at club level thus far and give praise to outstanding individuals from the opening part of the league seasons.
Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruyne lead cricmac.com European Team of the Season so far, but who else makes the cut? Honourable mentions go to Neymar, Dries Mertens and Harry Kane, who will have to settle for a place on the bench.
JAN OBLAK | ATLETICO MADRID
The Atletico Madrid shot-stopper has so far registered six clean sheets in his 11 Liga appearances, being called on to make a save every 26 minutes of play.
While Diego Simeone’s side have struggled to score goals this season – Atletico have netted on just 16 occasions thus far – only Barcelona (4) have conceded fewer than the capital club (6) and Oblak has naturally had a big hand in that.
DANI ALVES | PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
The Brazilian has, rather unsurprisingly, made quite the impact at his new club across a relatively small sample of games.
Alves has made eight Ligue 1 appearances for the league leaders and has three assists to his name, two of those coming in PSG’s recent 5-0 thrashing of Angers.
CESAR AZPILICUETA | CHELSEA
The Spain international has operated on the right side of Antonio Conte’s back-three this season, with Victor Moses in the right-wing-back position.
Only Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva of Manchester City (5) have more assists than the Chelsea man (6) this term, with the 28-year-old offering some much-needed stability to the club’s defensive unit going the other way.
MILAN SKRINIAR | INTER MILAN
“I have to choose someone who’s like me, I’d take Skriniar,” Walter Samuel told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier in the season. “People already spoke well to me about him at Sampdoria, he just has to continue his growth without being distracted by anything. I see myself in him, few frills, a lot of substance.”
The 22-year-old has been a sensation at San Siro this season and a reasonable shout for the best defender in Europe as things stand.
SAMUEL UMTITI | BARCELONA
While his reading of the game is a major part of his make-up as a central defender, Umtiti’s distribution is what sets him apart from other defensive outlets in Europe.
The 23-year-old has completed 92.5% of his passing across La Liga and Champions League games this season, with his cutting balls between opposition lines often the starting point to Barcelona attacks.
LEROY SANE | MANCHESTER CITY
The teenage Germany international has six goals and five assists under Pep Guardiola this season from the left wing.
Sane is developing into the player City were confident that he would be when they forked out around £46 million for him in 2016 and has become a major part of the Catalan’s well-oiled machine at the Etihad.
JORGINHO | NAPOLI
The 25-year-old has provided the base for Napoli to make their table-topping charge in the Italian top flight this season, breaking a number of possession-based records in the process.
Jorginho has completed 93% of his passing this season in Serie A and averaged 111 passes per game over nine outings.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE | MANCHESTER CITY
The finest attacking player in European competition at present.
De Bruyne’s brilliance has been in full display this season at the centre of this extraordinary City side, notching nine assists and three goals in 15 competitive games this term.
LIONEL MESSI | BARCELONA
Fifteen appearances, 15 goals. The little Barcelona star has been in blistering form so far this season and is undoubtably behind Ernesto Valverde’s side sitting top of La Liga after 11 fixtures.
Messi also has four assists in that time, though has predominantly been in charge of scoring goals this term rather than creating them.
CIRO IMMOBILE | LAZIO
The Italy international is the top scorer in Europe’s top leagues so far, with 14 Serie A goals and six assists in 11 appearances an incredible return from the 27-year-old.
Immobile also has two goals in just 112 minutes of Europa League action for Lazio, handing him the central striker role in our European XI.
EDINSON CAVANI | PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Last season’s Ligue 1 top scorer has started the 2017-18 campaign with 13 goals in 11 league outings, and another four in four in the Champions League.
The Uruguay international has stolen the headlines from his £199 million team-mate Neymar, who has seven in eight in his debut season in the French top-tier.