It was a wild couple of weeks for European football, including some massive games such as the ones between Internazionale and AS Roma, the Manchester derby between Manchester City and Manchester United, and of course Spain’s pinnacle of football in the form FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s clash in El Clasico. Let’s look at the best players in the wake of these games.
Note: Power rankings has never taken performances in domestic cup competitions into account until the latter stages of the season, and will continue to do the same.
10. Rodri (Last appearance: September 21st)
Manchester City have begun to power through teams once again, and while the plaudits and headlines may go to Erling Haaland’s exploits, Rodri is just as deserving if not more deserving of praise for his performances in the last three games. While the Spaniard could not get complete control in the game against Brighton, this was expected as Roberto De Zerbi’s team prioritise central control and often overloaded Rodri. However, against Young Boys and Manchester United, Rodri took no prisoners, locking down the middle completely with his overwhelming presence on and off the ball. Rodri is merciless and relentless in the middle, and no team in the world would not see dramatic improvement with him.
9. James Maddison (Last week: 5)
James Maddison’s partner-in-crime Son Heung-min may have just missed out on a debut in the power rankings, but the English attacking midfielders maintains a spot amongst them.
Maddison scored a wonderful goal for Tottenham Hotspur against Fulham in which Son found him screaming away from the defense before the Englishman applied a deft finishing touch on the move, and while he was not clinical against Crystal Palace, the midfielder was still creative and well-disciplined in the press which caused the deep-sat but still intimidating Palace defense trouble time and time again. It was in fact Maddison’s well-connected volley that Joel Ward deflected into his own net to open the scoring for Spurs on the night, keeping the Spurs maestro at the highest spot of any Premier League player in this ranking.
8. Kylian Mbappé (Last appearance: October 5th)
Kylian Mbappé powers his way back into Europe’s Finest with set of scintillating performances. Against RC Strasbourg, the French captain had a blistering exchange with Bradley Barcola interrupted by a foul in the box, a penalty which Mbappé swiftly converted, followed up by a showcase of his ability to create magic as a creator when Mbappé beat his man near the byline with some quick feet before cutting it across to Vitinha to finish. Mbappé notched his tenth goal of the club season against AC Milan in the Champions League, a wonderful turn and finish where he wrong-footed Mike Maignan with his signature near-post finish after challenging Fikayo Tomori for space at the edge of the box. Mbappé was not quite done yet, as he bagged a brace against Stade Brest, once against consisting of his signature near-post wrong-footing of the keeper. His other goal was a rebound from a penalty which he did unfortunately have saved.
7. Hakan Çalhanoğlu (New)
In the year of 2023, Hakan Çalhanoğlu is finally playing up to the potential that was touted of him all those years ago at Hamburger SV and Bayer Leverkusen.
The Turkish midfielder is the most important cog in the Inter machine right now, as the team simply cannot function without him. Çalhanoğlu is the deepest of three central midfielders, being pivotal to build-up and the only real central player as his midfield partners often venture into other areas to help out the attackers. Çalhanoğlu has paired this solidity and presence with the offensive capabilities that have always been his primary strength. The Turkish midfielder’s perfect corner created a training ground scenario for Inter to get their second goal against Torino, and he even converted from the spot late in the game to make it 3-0 on the night to cap a dominating performance. Çalhanoğlu’s performances have laid the bedrock for the wing backs and midfielders to bomb forward and get the goals, but Çalhanoğlu is a known threat from dead balls — or even from the spot as he scored a penalty against RB Salzburg too, a goal that proved to be the winner. The Bundesliga alumnus put in a great performance against AS Roma, once again laying the foundation for the rest of the team to bomb forward.
6. Antoine Griezmann (Last week: 8)
Antoine Griezmann is aging like a fine French wine.
Atlético Madrid may have been helped by the sending-off of Celta Vigo’s goalkeeper Iván Villar, but take nothing away from the brilliant performance Griezmann put in to secure a hat-trick of smart, well-taken goals. Griezmann converted from the spot against Celtic too, but it was just a capstone of a wonderful individual performance where he dominated Celtic’s space between the lines and orchestrated all of Atlético’s play. Griezmann once again showed this dominance when Atlético faced Deportivo Alaves, but without reward this time.
5. Min-jae Kim (Last week: 6)
Bayern Munich conceded two goals these two weeks, and both were due to individual mistakes unrelated to Min-jae Kim. It is simple: if Kim is on the ball or on the man with the ball, the attack is over.
Kim put in a set of unreal performances against Galatasaray and Mainz, in particular denying Mauro Icardi any space on the ball, and it’s very likely that had Joshua Kimmich not made a completely unnecessary lunge on Icardi to give Galatasaray a penalty, Kim would have blocked the ensuing shot. Kim continued this imperious form with another dominating game against SV Darmstadt, in which Bayern ran out 8-0 winners despite three red cards being shared amongst the two teams. For a showcase of how truly brilliant Kim has been, the captain of South Korea is currently averaging over five ball recoveries per game. Unreal.
4. Harry Kane (New)
Captain of the most gifted England squad of all time. Tottenham Hotspur’s record goal-scorer. Bayern’s record signing. Wherever Harry Kane goes, he rewrites history, and he may well continue to do that if this kind of form continues.
Kane scored a simple header from a well-rehearsed free kick routine against Mainz, before turning the Galatasaray game on its head. After Bayern faced an onslaught of attacks in the first half, Kane led the attack with a crucial goal from a Jamal Musiala ball to give Bayern the lead, and fought through multiple Galatasaray defenders before passing the ball to Musiala on a platter and confirm Bayern’s three points. The best was yet to come from Kane, as he faced down Darmstadt and notched an assist… as well as a hat-trick of wonderful goals: a diving header, a close-range finish despite being fouled in the box, and of course that goal. Everyone knows the goal in question, a stunning shot from inside his own half which rose and dip perfectly into the net. Kane is currently on 14 goals and 7 assists from his first 9 games at Bayern, a frankly unbelievable return, these are prime Robert Lewandowski numbers.
3. Álejandro Grimaldo (Last week: 3)
ÁLEJANDRO GRIMALDO, STOP THAT.
In a tight match with no real way through for Bayer Leverkusen against a well-drilled and resillient VfL Wolfsburg side, Grimaldo was the one to find the breakthrough with a ridiculous driven first time volley at the edge of the box, the eventual winner of that game. Grimaldo assisted Leverkusen’s opener against Qarabağ in the Europa League, an inch-perfect cross between the legs of a defender which found Florian Wirtz. Wirtz and Grimaldo combined for Leverkusen’s second of the game too, which ended with Grimaldo booming it into the net despite a challenge on Grimaldo’s shoulder. It couldn’t be a Leverkusen game without Grimaldo showcasing why he is one of the best in the world, as he received the ball from Wirtz from 25 yards out, looked up, thought to himself ‘I’m f&@!ing Álejandro Grimaldo lads’ and planted it in the side-netting from where he stood. While he didn’t notch a goal or assist against Freiburg, he continued to be Leverkusen’s most important player for build-up from deep and their primary outlet out wide on the left. What a player.
2. Jude Bellingham (Last week: 2)
Fine margins define the top here, as the next two players have been ruling the roost for over a month now.
Jude Bellingham makes football look like the easiest sport in the world.
The Englishman had a hard go of it against Sevilla, not really getting his feet in the game properly, and this performance is ultimately what kept him from having a real chance of dethroning the top spot this time around. Braga and Real Madrid were being held tight together at 1-1, but of course Bellingham had something to say about that when he received the ball from Vinícius Júnior at the edge of the box and deftly placed it in the bottom corner. That shot is exactly what your coach means when he says ‘pass it into the bottom corner’. Later in the week, Real faced the challenge of FC Barcelona. Barcelona were up 1-0 deep into the second half, so of course everyone started joking about Bellingham coming in late to save the game for Real…
…and then it happened.
With just over 20 minutes on the clock, Bellingham fired in a ridiculous, venomous shot from 25 yards out which landed right in the corner of the net, and then in stoppage time Bellingham managed to nestle the ball in the net once again, this time from much closer as a fumble between Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Iñigo Martínez allowed Bellingham to slip between them and slide the dagger deep into the hearts of Barcelona fans around the world. The script-writers knew what they were doing with this one.
1. Leroy Sané (Reign: 42 days)
Playing football against Leroy Sané is the hardest sport in the world.
Bayern Munich had a tough game against Mainz, alleviated by Sané who was the brightest spot in the attack time and time again, getting an assist early on with a fantastic through pass to Kingsley Coman who finished with one of the cleanest strikes of a football I’ve seen in a long time. Sané assisted Coman again with an inch-perfect pass into space against Galatasaray to open the scoring, but the German’s best was yet to come as he put on an all-star showing against SV Darmstadt, notching an assist with a spliced through ball between the defenders which Kane jumped onto to complete his hat-trick. Coupled with the assist was a pair of well-taken goals, one a close range finish from a well-placed Konrad Laimer cut-back and the second, a glorious shot from outside the box after a smart turn from a Kingsley Coman pass. Sané is unstoppable on his day, and it seems like every day has been Leroy Sané day for the last month.
What do you think of the rankings this time around? Is there anyone you would’ve included? Can Bellingham dethrone Sané next time (let’s face it, probably not)? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion below.