With the coronavirus pandemic raging this year, 2021 has doled out its fair share of adversity. With it, football has managed to go on irrespective of shortened fixtures and minimal rest time between matches.
And this year, players have risen and shone, storylines have written themselves all over Europe and the world. That said, these are the players who have dominated this season.
10. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The Liverpool forward makes the list sensation Mohamed Salah. While Liverpool scratched their way into Champions league qualification just barely, Mo Salah led the charge.
With notable contributors missing in action, the faithful at Anfield have Mo Salah to thank for being a bright spot in a campaign derailed by injuries following last season’s league win.
The Egyptian might not have by and by delivered his best statistical season, but he was a constant for Jurgen Klopp this season
9. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
Manchester City finished out the league campaign in dominant fashion, with his 11 assists second in the league, spurring the goal scoring in the team.
While he missed time here and there with injuries, his contributions were monumental to the team’s success.
Manchester City was looking to lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history, but unfortunately the team didn’t win and De Bruyne left the match prior to its ending due to injury, yet again.
8. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern)
Bayern Munich has run roughshod over the entire Bundesliga, winning a record 9th straight league title. One of their cornerstone players has been midfielder Joshua Kimmich.
In a star-studded team with firepower all over the pitch, Kimmich’s impact cannot be gainsaid. He has transformed into
Bayern Munich’s answer in midfield, with the adaptable Die Manschaft international tracking space in defense while boasting ample ability to affect the game moving forward.
7. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Arriving at Manchester City with little fanfare from Benfica, the Portuguese defensive ace would prove to be the driving force for a Manchester City side foundering in the early stages of the season.
He was the linchpin of a Man City defense that was the stingiest in the Premier League, allowing the fewest goals en route to City’s fourth Premier League title in five years.
According to bookies such as William Hill, a feat that sees him frontrunner in the race for PFA Player of the Year.
6. Neymar (PSG)
2021 has been a slow year for the enigmatic Brazilian forward. Paris Saint Germain was bundled out of the Champions League by Manchester City, and they narrowly missed out on the Ligue 1 title to Lille.
However, that has not diminished Neymar’s standing as one of the best players in the world. Missing significant time this season, his goal/assist tally doesn’t compare favorably to his best years, but he still rose to the occasion for the Parisians.
With Copa America in the summer, Neymar looks to strive for greater prospects in 2021 with silverware for his country.
5. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Mbappe broke through this season with his first 40 goal campaign, including signature performances in the Champions League and leading the Ligue 1 scoring charts by
a mile. He was also a pivotal part of France’s road to the summer European Championship. With a dominant campaign at the Euros and a solid start to next season, he could very well reach and eclipse the mainstays in the conversation of the best footballers in the world.
4. Erling Haaland (Dortmund)
You’ll do well to find a young player to have made such a splash on the big professional European club scene as Erling Haaland.
At only 20 years old, the Norwegian wonderkid is already one of the most lethal center forwards in the game today. His goalscoring prowess is magnificent, sporting a goal average of every 55 minutes.
Like Mbappe, he has also broken out this year with his first 40 goal campaign. Hopefully, the first of many to come.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
In a season where Juve has failed to win the Scudetto for the first time in over eight years, barely squeaking into the final Champions League spot on the final matchday, Ronaldo has not been his usual extraordinary self.
Regardless he is high on this list as he is still going strong in the latter stage of his career. He will look to lead defending European champions Portugal at the Euros this summer. A dominant run to the cup will add to his legacy even further in a field with more favored teams.
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
At the start of the season, with much controversy and speculation surrounding Barcelona, Lionel Messi showed up like he always has.
He scored over 30 league goals challenging for the La Liga title until the campaign’s final day, losing to Atletico Madrid.
There is still much to see regarding his contract situation, but for the moment, he will prepare to win a major trophy with Argentina at the Copa America this summer.
1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Coming off a dominant season where he led a resurgent Bayern Munich side from a sputtering start to a treble-winning campaign as well as the European Footballer of the Year and FIFA’s player of the year, much was expected of the Polish talisman this year.
Not one to disappoint, he rode out the expectations and exceeded them. He led Bayern Munich to an impressive trophy haul while breaking the Bundesliga goalscoring record held by Gerd Muller with 41 league goals.
That makes it five straight years with at least 40 goals in all club competitions. He tops the list this season.
Much is yet to be accomplished this year with continental tournaments followed by a summer where teams can prepare for the upcoming season adequately. This list could look quite different come to the end of the year.