European League Players of the Season So Far
Choosing the top performers from the ‘Big Five’ European Leagues of Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, English Premier League, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 so far is no easy task, and of course it can only ever really be subjective in nature. Goals are wonderful indicator, as are assists, but not all footballing contributions can be counted and objectified in such a way. The goodfolks at whoscored.com, however, maintain a huge database of statistics which contribute to a player-rating system applied to all players in the top five European Leagues. Here is an analysis of the top five players of the league campaigns so far according to these ratings. These statistics do not consider European, domestic cup and international competitions.
Neymar, Barcelona – 8.78
It would be fair to say that the Brazilian superstar had yet to hit the heights in his Barcelona career prior to this season, but so far in 2015/16, Neymar has been nothing short of out of this word. A better than a goal a game contribution of 14 goals in 15 matches, added to five assists and six man-of-the-match awards are unbelievable statistics, but it has been the quality of the goals (see his effort against Villarreal) and the unplayable nature of his performances, especially in the absence of Lionel Messi, that have catapulted the 23 year-old to the top of the performance charts in Europe this season, as well as Barca to the top of La Liga. He is a full 0.38 ahead of the next best performer.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 8.41
Nobody would suggest it’s been a vintage campaign for the little Argentine wizard so far, especially as he was missing for almost two months through injury, but the bare statistics still make ever-impressive reading – five goals, four assists and four man-of-the-match awards in just ten games. Although these contributions may be slightly down on his almost super-human efforts of previous seasons, in tandem with Neymar and Luis Suarez, 32 goals have been added in just 15 league matches. Quite simply, if those three are playing, Barcelona will score at least twice!
Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City – 8.37
While Jamie Vardy has deservedly been getting all the headlines for his record-breaking scoring run in taking Leicester City to the top of the English Premier League, RiyadMahrez has gone rather quietly and effectively about being the division’s best player. Mahrez is only two behind his team mate on 13 goals, and has also contributed 7 assists (four of those to the aforementioned Vardy), making him the most successful goal contributor in the league, and equates to 54% of the goals Leicester have scored. In claiming the Premier League player of the year award in 2014/15, Eden Hazard scored 14 and assisted nine (the Belgian has yet to score so far this season) which puts Mahrez’s achievements into context. The next highest rated player in the Premier League is Mesut Ozil, with a score of 7.85. One last observation. Mahrez has secured the man-of-the-match award no less than eight times in his 16 matches.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint Germain – 8.15
The big Swede is having a sensational campaign in France, scoring 15 goals in just 14 appearances and becoming PSG’s record goalscorer in the process. The 34 year-old has also contributed six assists and four man-of-the-match awards to the cause. Zlatan remains well on course to beat his record scoring campaign of 30 in his first season in France in 2012/13 which was achieved in 34 appearances.The veteran striker shows no signs of slowing down and remains that rather rare beast of not only being a great goalscorer, but a scorer of great goals too.
Angel Di Maria, Paris Saint Germain – 8.14
Of the sticks that could be used to currently beat Louis Van Gaal, the decision to sell Angel Di Maria could turn out to be the biggest. The Argentine has been in fine form for the French Ligue 1 leaders since his big-money arrival from Old Trafford in the summer, contributing six goals and nine assists in 14 appearances to date. He scored threeand contributed ten assists in the league in his solitary campaign for United last season, meaning he has already bettered that tally in half the time. Many observers also suggest that once he has truly settled into life in the French capital, there is much more to come. Oh how United could do with his guile and creativity now.
The rest of the top ten
Douglas Costa, Bayern Munich – 7.98
HenrikhMkhitaryan, Borussia Dortmund – 7.96
Nolito, Celta Vigo – 7.86
Serge Aurier, Paris Saint Germain – 7.85
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal – 7.85
By: Steven Paget