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Ranking the best players in the Premier League this season

The 2023/24 Premier League season is now creeping towards its conclusion, with the title race, European places and relegation still all to be decided.

It’s been another unforgettable campaign in England’s top flight but which stars have made the biggest mark on the season? We’ve attempted to rank the 10 best players in the Premier League this season.

10. Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

There were some ready to write off the Dutch defender after a disappointing campaign last term, while an inauspicious red card early in the season at Newcastle saw his stock take another hit. Van Dijk, as it happens, is far from finished, producing another dominant season at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Though the club’s title challenge has faltered in the final weeks, Van Dijk’s presence helped propel the Reds there in the first place. Contention should be deemed overachievement for Liverpool 2.0 in its earliest form, with Van Dijk’s dominance key. He leads the league for aerial duels won (132) and percentage of aerial duels won (82%), while he headed home the League Cup final winner to ensure Jurgen Klopp’s final season ends with silverware.

9. William Saliba – Arsenal

The man looking to take Van Dijk’s status as the division’s best defender, William Saliba has enhanced his rapidly growing reputation with another superb season for Arsenal. The Rolls-Royce at the heart of the division’s best defence, the north Londoners have conceded the least goals, have the lowest xGA, and the most clean sheets. It’s not all down to Saliba, but he’s certainly played his part.

8. Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Erling Haaland might not have hit the heights of last season, but even this version of the Norwegian is pretty scary. The 23-year-old is the leading scorer in the Premier League with 21 goals as he chases back-to-back Golden Boots and has 32 in all competitions.

For context, Thierry Henry bettered that total just twice in his career in English football and Sergio Aguero only once. That he’s missed 12 games through injury makes it all the more impressive.

 

7. Martin Odegaard – Arsenal

Martin Odegaard did not look an obvious captain when handed the Arsenal armband, but he’s proven to be the perfect leader for Mikel Arteta’s improving team. His work ethic is an example, and he has the bravery to get on the ball and create when under pressure.

Arteta has reaped the rewards of Real Madrid’s mistake in allowing Odegaard to leave, a footballer who purrs in possession and is a manager’s dream without it. His devastating recent performance against Chelsea was Odegaard at his best, oozing quality in attacking areas for the north Londoners. He’s aiming to become the first Arsenal captain to hoist aloft the Premier League trophy since Patrick Vieira.

6. Cole Palmer – Chelsea

Cole Palmer took a leap of faith last summer after deciding to leave Manchester City for Chelsea. Frustrated with a lack of opportunity, he has emphatically proven that he was ready for Premier League football.

Palmer has scored 20 goals and provided nine assists in the Premier League this season, the shining light of a dysfunctional Chelsea team that has underwhelmed around him. From a hat-trick against Manchester United to his four-goal haul to down Everton, Palmer’s delightful technique and innate self-confidence have been a breath of fresh air this season.

5. Bukayo Saka – Arsenal

If Bukayo Saka is not world-class, he’s certainly on the edge of the argument. It is now 33 goal involvements for the Arsenal winger in all competitions, who at 22 is already among the most decisive players in Europe.

Pace, purpose and end product, Saka is a match-winner for Mikel Arteta and his team. After winning the PFA Young Player of the Year last season, he could be in contention for the senior prize should Arsenal get over the line in the title race.

4. Declan Rice – Arsenal

Declan Rice could have taken the easier route in signing for Manchester City’s treble-winning team last summer, but an ambitious Arsenal won the race to land the West Ham captain. The £105m fee has barely been mentioned, a nod to the performances Rice has delivered since crossing the capital.

The 25-year-old eats up the ground in midfield, powers into challenges, and carries the ball confidently through lines. His set-pieces have been a new string added to his bow this season, contributing to career-best numbers for goals (6) and assists (7). He’s been the engine for Arsenal this season, and might just be for England in the summer.

3. Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa

That Ollie Watkins is considered only an outsider for the Player of the Season awards is as much ‘Big Six’ bias as anything else. There’s an argument that no player in the division has been as crucial to their team’s performances this season, with Watkins continuing his evolution into the complete centre-forward under Unai Emery.

He has scored the most non-penalty goals (19) in the Premier League and leads the league for assists (12), all while offering endless energy and presence to unsettle opposition defences. His contribution might just result in the greatest Aston Villa season since the early eighties, as Emery’s outfit closes in on a top-four finish and Europa Conference League success.

2. Rodri – Manchester City

Remember when defensive midfielders never really got given their flowers? Rodri is going a long way towards changing that. The Spaniard’s unquestionable importance to the Manchester City machine has been well-documented, with the Citizens unbeaten, inside 90 minutes, with Rodri in the team since February 2023.

Rodri makes the best club side in the game tick, an irreplaceable cog in the engine room of Pep Guardiola’s plan. When it comes to midfield anchors, he has no equal in Europe.

 

1. Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden has long been rich in potential but this season has been the campaign that has seen the Manchester City midfielder enter into an elite talent.

The 23-year-old has carried the Citizens on occasion in the absence of Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, delivering in big moments and scoring a career-best 24 goals in all competitions.

He has taken the baton as Pep Guardiola’s game-changer and ran with it, with two Premier League hat-tricks and a derby day double against Manchester United his highlights. It’s easy to forget that Foden started last season’s Champions League final on the bench. Now, he’d be arguably the first name on the team sheet.

More than the numbers, he’s a genuine delight to watch. England are fortunate to have him.

Read – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 35

See more – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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