The inimitable Benzema and the rebellious Lewandowski
Real Madrid – Karim Benzema
A very easy choice. “Real Madrid are a team of personalities, every player has contributed to Champions League and La Liga victories, and the most notable figures of the victorious Madrid were Modrić, Casemiro, Courtois and Vinicius. However, Karim Benzema is the man above them all, the No 1 contender for the Ballon d’Or, so he is unequivocally the best in his team. Karim has scored 44 goals, among them crucial goals in the Champions League play-offs. He was good both statistically and aesthetically. Everyone seems to be crazy about Benzema, even Lionel Messi concedes the Frenchman the Ballon d’Or:
I think there is no doubt about that. It’s absolutely clear that Benzema had an impressive season and finished with a Champions League win, was a key player in all the play-off matches. I think there’s no doubt about it this year.
Liverpool – Mohamed Salah
Salah has been named the best player of the season in the APL by both journalists and fellow footballers. There may be questions over the league title because of Liverpool’s second-placed finish and Mohamed’s lacklustre play since the African Cup of Nations, but at home he is number one without question. 31 goals and 16 assists serve as a voucher for the Egyptian.
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne
Guardiola’s teams rarely feature a single hero, and Manchester City’s success is also the result of teamwork at the highest level. The greater honour for De Bruyne is to be the most useful player in such a pleasantly impersonal team, where every cog in the mechanism of football knows his place. Kevin had a slow start to the season but then burst into life, producing some brilliant performances and becoming Manchester City’s top scorer of the season as well, saying hello to the forwards. It’s unlikely to happen to Erling Holland, but it does help his chances of setting a new record for assists.
Bayern – Robert Lewandowski
Bayern fans voted Thomas Müller as their best player of the season, but it is clear that the fans’ resentment towards Robert Lewandowski, who has clashed with Bayern and wants to quit, played in the club’s legend’s favour. You have to agree that it’s foolish to designate as a hero a player who no longer wants to play for your team. But we have no such prejudices, so we give the victory to Robert, who will be able to attach this virtual recognition to his virtual Ballon d’Or. And joking aside, the Pole scored 48 goals in a season. No matter how you feel about him, he is Bayern’s most valuable player. There’s no way around it.
Chelsea – Mason Mount
In this case, though, let’s agree with the fans’ choice. Mason Mount was indeed Chelsea’s most useful player of the season, which turned out to be scrappy for reasons beyond the team’s control. Mount has had a double-double in the Premier League (11 goals + 10 assists), he has a productive run in the Champions League play-offs, and yes, subjectively, Mason has dragged the team along more often than others. The closest competitor is the club’s other youngster, Reece James, but Mount has had a more consistent season.
Tottenham – Son Heung-Min
Tottenham usually have Harry Kane in this spot, but this time his Korean attacking line mate worked more effectively. Kane stalled noticeably at the start of the season when he couldn’t get used to the idea of not being let go to Manchester City, and only came fully alive with the arrival of Antonio Conte. It still blows my mind how Son was not included in the Team of the season in the APL. For a minute, the Tottenham forward caught up with Salah in goals (23) and shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed, with Son scoring exclusively from the game, no penalties.
Paris Saint-Germain – Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe’s refusal to move to Real Madrid has not added to his global fan base, but such is the heavy cross of the French patriot that Kylian has been helped onto his shoulders along with suitcases of cash by the club’s persuasive Qatari owners. Mbappe had a strong season last season: 28+17 in the French league, 6+4 in the Champions League. Messi and Neymar looked dismal against the Frenchman. But can Kylian build on his success by staying in Ligue 1? There is speculation that there will be an inevitable motivational pitfall for him after the 2022 World Cup, when one day Mbappe will find himself in the same ‘farmers’ league’ among the same fed up cats.
Barcelona – Jordi Alba
It’s been a mixed season for the Catalans, with dejection, renewed hope and bitter disappointment at the finish line. Under Xavi, Ousmane Dembele has started to play football again, Aubameyang has burst into the Barça squad brightly, Pedri has been excellent again but has played too little due to injury. It’s fair to single out the veteran Alba, who is remembered for his brilliant attacking play, producing a couple of masterpieces and over a dozen assists.
AC Milan – Rafael Leão
Milan finished last in the Champions League group but won the long-awaited Scudetto at the end of the season. Portuguese forward Rafael Leão was named Serie A’s Player of the Year and we put him on top of the podium in the club’s rankings. 11+8 in the league, career breakthrough season, championship and recognition.
Atlético – Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco
A difficult season for the Spurs, a losing streak in the equator and rumours of Diego Simeone’s resignation. It is difficult to choose the best, as the players’ form and moods have also been “jumping”. Let it be Ferreira-Carrasco, who has 6+6 in La Liga and the highest rating on WhoScored (7.08).
Inter – Lautaro Martinez
Hakan Calhanoglu is a great addition to Inter’s squad but is again second in Serie A, as he was before with AC Milan, from where he fled to his neighbours. Karma. And the best will be Lautaro Martinez, who increased his Serie A goalscoring tally for the fourth successive season with 6, 14, 17 and 21.