1 day to go until new PL season: Who’s the No. 1 player?
Some seasons, in some leagues, there’s no doubt to the identity of the No. 1 attraction.
Take this year: Lionel Messi remains the brightest star in
the world La Liga, and Kylian Mbappe is in France with hopes of joining his orbit. Cristiano Ronaldo is probably still the one in Serie A.
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The Premier League’s had that before, though surely the partisan world might argue with the statuses of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even Eden Hazard.
This year, though? Good luck.
A refreshed and healthy Kevin De Bruyne remains a wonder, Raheem Sterling has become one of the most complete attackers in the world, and there’s an argument to be made that Bernardo Silva is the straw that stirs Man City’s drink. And if you have trouble picking between three guys on a single team’s attack, it’s probably unfair to say either is the top dog for the league.
Celebrating Virgil van Dijk as a potential Ballon d’Or winner is righteous in a year in which Liverpool was able to eliminate the best player in the world from the Champions League, but Mohamed Salah is still rightly the most watched man at Anfield. The Reds don’t get anywhere prominent without either.
A certain tall Englishman from North London would love you to consider his credentials, even if his health has stopped him from producing truly gaudy numbers. Harry Kane missed eight matches and still finished within five goals of a Golden Boot, a season after bagging 30 but being overshadowed by Salah’s 32.
Paul Pogba is still a wizard, and last season saw him finally put up some numbers resembling the player purchased from Juventus on the heels of an eight-goal, 12-assist season.
Which point of Arsenal’s three-pronged attack is its sharpest? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the most powerful players of his generation, while Alexandre Lacazette’s intelligence as a creator is next level. And yet new boy Nicolas Pepe may end up being the best of the bunch, an attacker who willed Lille to second in Ligue 1 and had more total goals and assists than any player not named Mbappe.
There are other names people will want to read here. Kante remains a machine at the heart of anything Chelsea wants to achieve in a season. Ederson is Brazil’s answer to Manuel Neuer in his prime, but Liverpool supporters see Alisson Becker as a fabled hero (and we know a goalkeeper isn’t the answer to this question).