MVPs: Every Premier League club’s most important player in 22/23

This Premier League season is almost over and as the curtain closes on another campaign we’ve recognised the best-performing player from each team

Manchester City are champions once again as Pep Guardiola’s side maintained their domestic dominance, though the Citizens faced an unexpected challenge from Arsenal for the title. Elsewhere Newcastle and Brighton exceeded expectations to secure European football, while Fulham and Brentford were among the teams to have punched above their weight in 2022/23.

As the campaign concludes we’ve looked at the players who have led by example for their respective sides, selecting our Most Valuable Player from each Premier League club.

Here is every Premier League club’s most important player in 2022/23.

Arsenal – Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard was the inspiration behind Arsenal’s title challenge, one that for so long looked like ending the club’s 19-year wait for a Premier League crown. Few envisaged such improvement from Mikel Arteta’s team, but Odegaard symbolised their evolution with his own coming-of-age campaign.

The Norway midfielder has scored 15 goals and laid on seven assists, emerging as one of the most watchable talents in the division with his immaculate close control and ability to thread passes through lines.

Champions League football will return to north London for the first time since 2016/17 next season and Odegaard’s contribution was pivotal to that performance. These are exciting times at the Emirates and Odegaard is the leader of a side who can get better and better.

Aston Villa – Douglas Luiz

Douglas Luiz came close to leaving Aston Villa in the closing stages of last summer’s transfer window, but a move failed to materialise and the midfielder has since had his best campaign at Villa Park.

The Brazil international collected the Supporters’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season accolades at the club’s end-of-season awards this week, following a season of brilliant box-to-box influence at the heart of the side.

The 25-year-old has been a driving force in Villa’s upturn under Unai Emery and has posted career-best numbers with five goals and six assists from 36 league appearances. Having signed a new long-term deal earlier in the campaign, he looks set to form a central part of the club’s ambitious project under Emery.

Bournemouth – Philip Billing

Bournemouth secured Premier League status for another season after an eventful campaign on the south coast, with the Cherries improved under Gary O’Neil to avoid relegation with games to spare.

Philip Billing has been key to that success, a footballer who might just earn admiring glances from rival sides this summer after an all-action season in the Bournemouth midfield. The 26-year-old can do it all, having operated as a defensive screen, box-to-box midfielder and second striker on occasion this season.

His effectiveness is evidenced in the stats. Billing is Bournemouth’s leading scorer (7), but also betters his teammates for tackles (34), blocks (48) and duels (169). 6ft 5in, industrious and capable of making an impact in the final third, Billing could be a more than useful addition for sides further up the division. Neto and Jefferson Lerma deserve honourable mentions for the Cherries.

Brentford – Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney’s career-best season will end in disappointment after the announcement of his eight-month ban for breaching gambling rules, but this will be a campaign that the forward will remember.

The 27-year-old scored 20 league goals for Brentford, with only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane having scored more in the Premier League. That form saw Toney make his England debut in March and but for his ban there would have been a sizeable queue of suitors at his door this summer.

Sadly, for both the player and Premier League, Toney will not feature again until January. Brentford face an unenviable task to replace his contribution to Thomas Frank’s side.

Brighton – Lewis Dunk

Brighton have no shortage of contenders after the Seagulls secured European football for the first time in their history. Solly March has been outstanding in a career-best campaign, Kaoru Mitoma and Pervis Estupinan have been incredible additions to the side, and Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister appear destined for new challenges in the near future.

Our MVP, however, is a long-term fixture. Lewis Dunk remains the heartbeat of this side and Roberto De Zerbi called his captain ‘one of the best defenders in Europe’ earlier this season. Dunk has adapted brilliantly to the methods of the new manager, leading the Premier League for touches and progressive carrying distance while failing to neglect his defensive duties.

Gareth Southgate has taken note, recalling Dunk to the England squad for the first time since the defender won a sole cap in 2018.

Chelsea – Thiago Silva

Chelsea’s list of candidates for this accolade was a short one, but Thiago Silva’s evergreen excellence has stood out among much mediocrity at Stamford Bridge.

There were question marks surrounding Chelsea’s decision to sign a 35-year-old Silva in 2020, but almost three years on from his arrival and approaching his 39th birthday, the Brazilian has been an example for others to follow.

Silva has made up for his lack of pace with intelligent positioning, an athletic leap and anticipation, attributes honed over a career that has seen him win 23 trophies in four different countries. He signed a new one-year deal in February, but could still move on at the end of the season.

If he does, he will be missed. Chelsea would be foolish to lose his leadership as the club rebuild from a chaotic campaign.

Crystal Palace – Eberechi Eze

Eberechi Eze has been called up to the England squad for the first time for this summer’s internationals, a rich reward for a superb season at Crystal Palace.

Eze has bounced back from the fitness problems that disrupted last season to provide a reminder of his class, producing a career-best campaign to score 10 league goals.

The 24-year-old has been magic to watch during Palace’s revival under Roy Hodgson and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing players in the Premier League when gliding past opposition challenges.

Everton – Dwight McNeil

Everton’s signing of Dwight McNeil was questioned during our pre-season predictions, with reservations over the winger’s contribution, despite obvious quality, after just one goal involvement for relegated Burnley last season.

McNeil has grown in stature at Everton as the season has progressed, with his seven goals as many as the winger managed in the previous FOUR Premier League seasons combined. The 23-year-old is Everton’s leading scorer this season and only Alex Iwobi has provided more assists.

The Toffees will need one more big performance from McNeil, as the club face a must-win with Bournemouth this weekend to preserve their Premier League status.

Fulham – Joao Palhinha

Joao Palhinha is in the conversation for the Premier League’s Signing of the Season, following an outstanding campaign at Fulham.

The Portugal international arrived in a £20m deal from Sporting Lisbon last summer and his performances must have several wealthier sides wondering just how he was overlooked. Palhinha leads the Premier League for tackles won (80) by some distance and has shone with his ability to break up the play at the base of the midfield.

A prolific ball-winner and powerful presence, Palhinha has made more tackles and won more duels than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

Leeds – Rodrigo

If Leeds manage to pull off an escape from the Premier League’s relegation places this weekend, the club’s survival will have been in large part due to the goals of Rodrigo.

The Spaniard has not always convinced in front of goal since arriving at Elland Road, but has scored 13 league goals for a struggling side this season. In a side lacking a reliable centre-forward, that contribution has kept hopes of survival alive.

Only three players – Harry Kane, Martin Odegaard and Phil Foden – have outperformed their xG to a greater extent this season.

Leicester – James Maddison

Leicester have endured a disastrous season with the Foxes in danger of becoming one of the most talented squads ever to be relegated from the Premier League.

James Maddison has often been the exception to the club’s poor performances and has earned a role in Gareth Southgate’s plans with consistent performances of creativity. The 26-year-old has scored 10 goals and provided a further nine assists, with no player in the Premier League’s bottom half having directly contributed to more goals.

Expect Maddison to move on this summer, regardless of whether Leicester pull off a great escape this weekend. The division’s ‘Big Six’ will be interested in his services.

Liverpool – Alisson

Liverpool’s decline has been notable, from quadruple chasers to missing out on the top four, with defensive issues and a malfunctioning midfield having plagued Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Fortunately, the Reds boast the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and Alisson has bailed out his backline time and time again this season. The Brazil international has prevented a staggering 10.1 goals this season, while continuing to excel when sweeping from his line and with elite distribution.

Without him, Liverpool would in all probability have missed out on European qualification.

Manchester City – Erling Haaland

A self-explanatory selection, this one.

Erling Haaland has been the star of the Premier League season, shattering goal records since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

The Norwegian has scored 36 goals in just 35 league appearances and an astonishing 52 goals in all competitions. No player has ever scored more in a season for an English club this side of the Second World War.

A phenomenon.

Manchester United – Marcus Rashford

Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro’s impact deserve honourable mentions, as does Bruno Fernandes, but Marcus Rashford’s renaissance earns him Manchester United’s MVP award.

Last season was the worst of Rashford’s career, as he struggled for form and fitness, scored just four league goals and was linked with leaving Old Trafford. This season he has bounced back with the best campaign of his career so far, re-cementing his status as one of the Premier League’s most exciting talents.

Rashford was exceptional post-World Cup to lead United’s top four challenge, with 17 goals in 19 appearances across all competitions including one in the Carabao Cup final win over Newcastle. He has been named as the Premier League’s Player of the Month on three occasions and has a career-best 29 goals in all competitions.

No player has scored more for the Red Devils in a season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and given the lack of goals elsewhere in the side, it has been a crucial contribution.

Newcastle – Kieran Trippier

Champions League football will return to St James’ Park next season after Newcastle exceeded all expectations to secure a top-four finish.

The momentum of last season’s improvement under Eddie Howe continued into this campaign and it has been Kieran Trippier – the first signing under the club’s Saudi owners – who has led the charge.

The England right-back has been a creative force going forward and a leader in a Newcastle defence which began the season in resolute mood, a combination which has made the Magpies one of the toughest teams to beat in the division.

Only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has created more chances than Trippier this season and his performances have earned the defender Newcastle’s Player of the Season accolade and nomination for the Premier League Player of the Season gong.

Who said it’s not fashionable to be a full-back?

Nottingham Forest – Morgan Gibbs-White

Eyebrows were raised when Nottingham Forest made Morgan Gibbs-White their record signing last summer, agreeing a deal worth an initial £25m for the midfielder. The 23-year-old had failed to convince Wolves he was ready for Premier League football, but Gibbs-White has since thrived under the guidance of former England u17 manager Steve Cooper at the City Ground.

Gibbs-White has scored five goals and laid on seven assists for Forest this season, but is contribution is greater than the tangible numbers with drive, purpose in possession and real quality in the final third. Forest are preparing for consecutive seasons of Premier League football for the first time since the late nineties and Gibbs-White has been a driving force in that success.

The surprise at his omission from the latest England squad is a testament to his performances this season.

Southampton – Romeo Lavia

It’s not been a season to remember at Southampton, whose 11-year stay in the Premier League is over after relegation. A turbulent campaign saw Ralph Hasenhuttl, Nathan Jones and Ruben Selles all fail to address the Saints’ slide towards the Championship, with few bright moments at St Mary’s.

One positive was the performances of Romeo Lavia, who has revelled in first-team football since swapping Manchester City for Southampton last summer. The 19-year-old has been brilliant, earning considerable admirers from further up the division with his press-resistant brand of midfield play.

Lavia moves through midfield pressure with a languid flow, side-stepping challenges and turning away from trouble whenever it presents. Southampton should expect sizeable summer offers for the teenager, who made his Belgium debut in March.

Tottenham – Harry Kane

Harry Kane has long been Tottenham’s Most Valuable Player, but rarely has it been as apparent as this season.

The England captain has been a shining light in an otherwise challenging campaign for the north Londoners, one which could see Spurs miss out on European football. Kane has 28 league goals, an incredible haul and one which would have earned him significantly more headlines had it not been for Erling Haaland.

Spurs must dread thinking just where the side would be this season without Kane, but it’s a situation that soon might become a reality. The 29-year-old is deserving of a higher stage than the one Spurs can currently provide.

West Ham – Said Benrahma

Declan Rice has been formally named as West Ham’s ‘Hammer of the Year’ and the England midfielder’s importance to the side is unquestioned.

Said Benrahma has arguably been as influential this season however, with the Algerian having evolved from polarising figure to fan favourite at the London Stadium. The 27-year-old has found consistency in his game and bought into David Moyes’ demands defensively, replacing the frustrations the fans once had with questionable decision-making in the final third.

Benrahma has scored nine goals in all competitions and is West Ham’s leading scorer in the Premier League this season. He will hope to end what has been a fine campaign with silverware, as the Hammers take on Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

Wolves – Ruben Neves

It’s quite possible that Ruben Neves will play his final game for Wolves this weekend with speculation surrounding the midfielder’s future at Molineux.

Neves has been arguably the key factor in Wolves’ rise of recent seasons, arriving as a marquee recruit under the new ownership and inspiring both promotion and progress into Europe. Wolves have regressed since back-to-back 7th-place finishes on their Premier League return, but Neves’ contribution has ensured the club can rebuild as a top-flight team next season.

The Portugal international is a class act and has scored a career-best six Premier League goals this season, while leading his Wolves team-mates for tackles won and ranking second for completed passes. The 26-year-old appeared to say goodbye to the club’s supporters against Everton last weekend and should he depart, will do so as one of the club’s modern greats.

Read – Picking our 22/23 Premier League Team of the Season

Read Also – Icons: Appreciating the five managers to win 10+ major honours with English clubs

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