It has been an excellent year of football – Chelsea switching to a 3-4-3 to win the Premier League, Real Madrid becoming the first team to defending the Champions League in nearly three decades, and the 32 nations participating in the 2018 World Cup have been confirmed.
With this in mind, here are the 25 players we think have performed the best throughout the calendar year:
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur & England)
Tottenham have certainly produced one of the best English strikers in a while as Harry Kane has been scoring frequently for both club and country since the start of the year. The 24-year-old’s goals helped Spurs to their highest-ever Premier League finish last season (second) and beating the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in this season’s Champions League.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Although Barcelona missed out on both La Liga and the Champions League last season it certainly wasn’t due to any fault of Lionel Messi. The Catalans currently have a huge lead at the top of the Spanish league with help of the Argentine. This comes off the back of scoring braces in nine of his final 15 La Liga games last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Despite a very slow start to the 2017-18 La Liga season by his standards, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be excellent in the Champions League, scoring in all six group stage games this season. The Portuguese star scored twice in last season’s final, helping Madrid become the first side in the Champions League era to defend the title. Ronaldo recently won the 2017 Ballon d’Or award as was expected with his 1/20 Betfair football betting odds.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium)
Arguably the best midfielder in the world right now, Kevin De Bruyne is flourishing in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side where he has scored five goals and produced 11 assists in 20 games in the Premier League and Champions League combined so far this season. An absolute joy to watch there isn’t a pass that the Belgian can’t make right now.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund & Gabon)
Borussia Dortmund have been in decline over the past couple of seasons but one player who hasn’t dropped in form is Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. The Gabon international top scored in the German Bundesliga last season with 31 goals and he continues to fire them in this term too. It would be a surprise if he’s still at Signal Iduna Park come the start of next season.
Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain & Uruguay)
Though the French league doesn’t get much credit it still takes some ability to score as frequently as Edinson Cavani has for Paris Saint-Germain since taking up the central striker role following Zlatan Ibrahimović’s departure. The Uruguayan has delivered in the Champions League this year too – last season’s knockout rounds and this season’s group stage.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium)
After a slow start to the 2017-18 season following an injury over the summer, Eden Hazard is in fine form for Chelsea right now, coinciding with Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation with the Belgian superstar playing in a free role alongside Alvaro Morata up top. The 26-year-old has been ripping defences open with his passing and dribbling in 2017.
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City & Argentina)
When fit Sergio Agüero is one of the best players in the world. The Argentine striker has stayed fit for the majority of the first half of the 2017-18 Premier League season and is firing in the goals for Manchester City. Though Pep Guardiola doesn’t always play him and Gabriel Jesus in the starting lineup, he has plenty other goalscorers and playmakers around, as shown by City averaging more than three goals per game this season.
N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea & France)
The 2016-17 PFA Player of the Season became the first player to win back-to-back Premier League titles with two different clubs as N’Golo Kanté left Leicester City to join Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. He barely lost a game over those two seasons. The French international has been immense in the Blues’ midfield, whether it’s in a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, winning the ball back time and time again to start attacks. You could argue he was also a big reason why David Luiz looked so good last season.
David de Gea (Manchester United & Spain)
Manchester United have the best goalkeeper in the world. David de Gea has put in some incredible displays for Jose Mourinho’s side over the past season and a half, capped off by his heroics in producing 14 saves in their 3-1 win at Arsenal at the start of December. The 27-year-old’s shot stopping and reflexes are immense and he’s been a huge reason for many of United’s clean sheets in this calendar year.
Dries Mertens (Napoli & Belgium)
Napoli put up a Serie A title fight for a large part of last season and made an excellent start to their 2017-18 campaign prior to their 1-0 loss at home to Juventus to start December. Maurizio Sarri’s side are scoring a lot of goals and a big part of this is down to Dries Mertens. The Belgian star has scored in more games than he hasn’t in this calendar year.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Roma & Egypt)
After two immense seasons with AS Roma in Italy, Liverpool were able to sign Mohamed Salah this past summer. The Egyptian has been worth every penny of the €42 million transfer fee so far with 12 goals in 15 Premier League matches and helping Jürgen Klopp’s side win their Champions League group. He’s quick down the right wing and also creates chances for his teammates. Salah also converted the stoppage time penalty that booked Egypt’s place in next summer’s World Cup.
Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco & France)
Set to become one of the most expensive players in football next summer when his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain officially goes through, 2017 has been an incredible breakout year for Kylian Mbappé. Still only 18 years old, the French striker broke into the AS Monaco first team, helped them upset the odds to win Ligue 1 and got a loan move to PSG. He’s now playing for Didier Deschamps’ France too for whom are one of the favourites for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Paulo Dybala (Juventus & Argentina)
Juventus took a gamble on Paulo Dybala when they signed him from Palermo for a hefty €32 million in 2015. The Argentine striker had only scored 16 goals in 61 Serie A appearances. However, it proved to be a great piece of scouting and development as Dybala scored frequently in their Serie A title success of last season and helped the team reach their second Champions League final in three years.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich & Poland)
The Bayern Munich scored a brace or more in seven Bundesliga games in the second half of last season, including two hat-tricks. He’s started 2017-18 with 14 goals in as many games. Robert Lewandowski also scored in all three of his Champions League knockout round games last season and three in five so far this season.
Luka Modrić (Real Madrid & Croatia)
Luka Modrić was a key player in Real Madrid’s midfield last season in helping them to their first La Liga title in 2012 and defending the Champions League. The Croatian international links the defence to attack as well as doing both his defensive duties and setting up goals himself.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona & Brazil)
Following his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain over the summer, Neymar has lit up both Ligue 1 and the Champions League this season. The Brazilian is scoring goals for fun as he looks to help Unai Emery’s side win Europe’s elite club cup competition for the first time in their history. His last few months at Barcelona were nothing spectacular which is why Neymar ranks outside our top 10.
Ciro Immobile (Lazio & Italy)
Lazio have been going about their business quietly over the past few years – finishing in the top half of Serie A for each of the past seven seasons. Simone Inzaghi has a good bunch of players under his belt and perhaps none are more important than Ciro Immobile. His goals helped Lazio qualify for this season’s Europa League and he’s got off to an excellent start to this campaign too with 15 goals in 14 Serie A appearances.
Mauro Icardi (Internazionale & Argentina)
Despite publishing an autobiography in the past that criticised the Internazionale supporters, Mauro Icardi remains at the Italian giants and as their captain. The Argentine striker started the calendar year with two Serie A hat-tricks among other goals and so far this season has 16 in 15 league appearances. He’s been crucial to Inter’s revival especially in the narrow victories.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea & Spain)
Shifted from right-back into a back three and playing 90 minutes in every Premier League game last season, César Azpilicueta was crucial in Chelsea’s excellent defensive record and their title campaign in Antonio Conte’s debut season. The Spaniard has also been providing some excellent crosses and chipped balls into the penalty area to set up goals.
Fernandinho (Manchester City & Brazil)
Pep Guardiola often only plays one holding midfield in front of his back four and the rest of his side being attack-minded. Fernandinho is often that player and he does an immense job of breaking up opposition attacks. He’s got good vision and also likes to contribute with a screamer or two.
Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid & France)
The Atlético Madrid striker has been back among the goals of late after a slow start to the 2017-18 campaign that included being sent off in his first game of the season. Antoine Griezmann’s performances and goals last season helped ensure Diego Simeone’s side qualified for the Champions League again this season.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
The legendary goalkeeper won Serie A again last season with Juventus and helped the Italian giants reach the Champions League final for a second time in three seasons. Whilst Gianluigi Buffon does have an excellent defence in front of him he continues to pull off some out of this world saves when called upon.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)
Zinedine Zidane has improved the Real Madrid ever since he became their manager and Sergio Ramos has been the leader at the back for the world footballing giants. Though his side have made a slow start to the 2017-18 La Liga season he was a key part of the team that won the league and Champions League double last season.
Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
Whilst it’s not been a stellar year by his stands Luis Suárez continues to contribute to Barcelona’s attack, even more so without Neymar part of the side anymore. Suárez and co have helped the Catalan club to a large early lead at the top of La Liga to start the 2017-18 season.