Virgil van Dijk — Liverpool
*NOTE* – Currently out with a knee injury. When healthy, van Dijk is a top-5 player.
It must be nice to have Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Mané on your team. That trio alone would probably be able to keep Liverpool in the Champions League on a yearly basis. To also employ the world’s best defender is downright unfair (well, to everyone but Man City). Virgil van Dijk is a mountain of a man. Standing at 6-foot-4, the Dutch centre back is dominant in all facets of the game. His height allows him to win any ball in the air. He also has the speed to chase down nearly any player that gets in behind. When attacking up the pitch, van Dijk’s passing ability is sublime. Equally as stunning is his ability to hit free kicks. In 2019, van Dijk became the first defender to win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award. He only finished seven points behind Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or. Without question, van Dijk is a juggernaut.
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30. Jack Grealish — Aston Villa
Not many players in the Prem can dribble past opponents quite like Jack Grealish. Nearly halfway through the season, Grealish has carried the ball into the penalty area a remarkable 55 times. That mark is 24 clear of the second-most in the league (belonging to Marcus Rashford). Grealish is incredibly light on his feet, and often uses his quick, nimble moves to shake defenders. Through Villa’s first 15 matches, Grealish has scored five goals and assisted on seven others.
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29. Che Adams — Southampton
While Danny Ings grabs most of the headlines for Southampton, Che Adams deserves his share of praise. As the Saints battle for a top-4 spot in the Prem, Adams has continued to produce for the squad. With a knack for changing a game at its most pivotal moment, Adams is the ultimate weapon up top. With an abundance of speed, Adams darts past the backline without fear and capitalizes when he finds himself in front of the net. Adding to his value, Adams is a willing facilitator. He will not hunt for goals to Southampton’s detriment.
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28. Ilkay Gündoğan — Manchester City
With the amount of talent City possesses on its roster, it is sometimes easy to forget just how good some of the lads can be. When it comes to Ilkay Gündoğan, that has certainly been the case at times. The German midfielder has enjoyed a nice spell thus far in the 2020-21 campaign. Gündoğan is a tireless worker with great vision and playmaking abilities. Through January 11, the midfielder has slotted home three goals in league play — one behind Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez for the team lead.
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27. Kyle Walker — Manchester City
A key cog in City’s improved defense, Kyle Walker is enjoying his best spell since joining the club in 2017. The 30-year-old right-back has played well throughout the season, capitalizing on a string of good health. Walker has done well in link-up play, and is capable of advancing the ball forward if the opportunity presents itself. City have allowed a league-best 13 goals (in 15 matches) and Walker is a huge reason why.
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26. Richarlison — Everton
While Everton has been firmly in the top-half of the Premier League for 15 years, its supporters haven’t enjoyed a top-4 finish since 2005. However, if there is one man who could potentially push Everton back into Champions League contention, it may be Richarlison. Approaching the age of 24, the Brazilian forward has been a steady force for Everton for two-plus years. The Brazilian is absolutely fearless in the box. His confidence and brashness inside the 18 results in goals that most players couldn’t muster.
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25. Patrick Bamford — Leeds United
Patrick Bamford’s reintroduction to the Premier League has been a smashing success so far. Starring for Leeds, last year’s Championship winner, Bamford has been better than advertised through 17 starts. After scoring 16 goals in the Championship a season ago, Bamford has already found the back of the net 10 times in the Prem. Only five players have scored more goals on the year.
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24. Bernardo Silva — Manchester City
There are few players in the world who can say they are more talented with their left foot than Bernardo Silva. The diminutive Portuguese playmaker is magical with the ball at his feet. At his best when playing attacking midfield, Silva is capable of picking out any pass and making the most out of any scoring opportunity. With breathtaking agility and an unmatched handle of the ball, Silva is a nightmare for defenders when he opts to challenge them.
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23. Roberto Firmino — Liverpool
With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané grabbing most of the headlines, it is sometimes easy to overlook Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian striker has been with Liverpool since 2015, and has poured in 62 goals across all competitions. In that same time, Firmino has proved to be one of the best all-around strikers in the game. His time at Anfield has included tallying 37 assists, including eight during the 2019-20 season. While Liverpool will surely take the consistent double-digit goal seasons Firmino provides, his impact goes far beyond the goals. The Brazilian has made a name for himself with his work-rate. Firmino is a tireless worker who consistently fights to regain possession and ignite Liverpool’s lethal counter-attack. Since his arrival in 2015, Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp has often referred to Firmino as the team’s most important player.
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22. Phil Foden — Manchester City
Those who follow the game closely have known for years that Phil Foden was bound for glory — both at the club level and likely for the English national team. In 2017, Foden won the Golden Ball at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He made his City debut later that year, and has recently become a mainstay in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI. Foden is creative on the ball and incredibly dangerous in front of the net. Only 20 years old, Foden is just scratching the surface of his potential.
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21. Dominic Calvert-Lewin — Everton
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has the Toffies dreaming of a top-4 finish. Competing in his fifth season with the club, Calvert-Lewin is putting forth by far his greatest performance. Lethal in the box, the striker has scored a team-best 11 goals in 16 starts. The 23-year-old is well on his way to setting a new career-high in goals for a season. In 30 starts last year, Calvert-Lewin notched 13 goals. If the young star continues to score goals, top clubs will attempt to poach him from Everton.
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20. Riyad Mahrez — Manchester City
A prominent name in 2020, Riyad Mahrez was a bit of an unknown as recently as 2014. Starring for a newly-promoted Leicester side, Mahrez netted four goals for the Foxes. However, in 2015, Mahrez became a household name as he and his teammates shocked the world by winning the Premier League. With a trophy, 17 goals and 11 assists, Mahrez was ready to move on two years later — eventually landing with Manchester City. After a so-so first year with City, Mahrez has rediscovered his form this year. Playing on the right wing, the left-footed Algerian utilizes his deft touch and lethal shot to wreck havoc down the flank. With 15 goals and 10 assists since last season, Mahrez has lived up to the hype.
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19. Danny Ings — Southampton
Danny Ings’ career in the EPL got off to a promising start in 2014 when he scored 11 goals for Burnley. However, after a transfer to Liverpool resulted in just 14 appearances over three seasons, Ings’ career had stalled. But Ings was loaned to Southampton towards the end of 2018, and he has regained his promising form. After scoring 22 goals last season, Ings is off to another hot start with seven goals through 12 starts this time around. Ings operates almost exclusively in the box. His movement, positioning and decision-making have been top-notch throughout the 2020-21 campaign. He may be considered a poacher, but every team would love to have one as clinical as Ings.
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18. Sergio Reguilón — Tottenham
After a sensational run while playing for Sevilla last year in La Liga, Reguilon was bought by Tottenham (thank you, Real Madrid). Reguilon was a menace on the left flank, locking down opposing wingers as well as making runs forward with immense pace. The young Spaniard has vastly improved Spurs, and will need to remain in form if the team wants to finish the season on top. Reguilon will only move up this list as long as he plays for Tottenham.
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17. Christian Pulisic — Chelsea
Christian Pulisic may have had his fair share of doubters upon his move to Chelsea in 2019, but you would be hard-pressed to find many people who don’t believe in the talented midfielder after this year. America’s top player has arguably been Chelsea’s best and most important player since the EPL resumed following the pandemic-induced hiatus. Pulisic has weaponized his excellent pace to attack defenders and open space without a second thought. His aggression and production has led to his teammates searching for him more and more on the pitch.
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16. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — Arsenal
The 2019-20 EPL season didn’t go as planned for Arsenal. After finishing 5th the year prior, the Gunners finished in 8th place in 2020. However, not everything was disappointing for the London side. For the second campaign in a row, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was lethal in front of the net. Hailing from Gabon, Aubameyang is as composed as they come in the box. With a knack for being in the right position at all times, Arsenal’s leading man punishes teams with clinical finishing — 42 goals the past two seasons. Aubameyang hasn’t found the back of the net often in the 2020-21 season, but he remains a top option up top.
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15. Jamie Vardy — Leicester City
The Premier League has been having a Vardy party since Jamie Vardy helped lead Leicester City to its title in 2015. That year, Vardy scored 24 times — one fewer than Harry Kane’s EPL-best 25. Vardy, who added 51 EPL goals over the next three seasons, claimed the Golden Boot for the 2019-20 season with 23 goals. Vardy benefits from being a relentless worker. His high work-rate, finishing skill, and top-notch ability in space propel Vardy to heights that few thought he could ever reach. Nearly halfway through this year, Vardy is once again contending for the Golden Boot.
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14. Ederson — Manchester City
Ederson is one of the world’s best keepers. So, it also stands to reason that he is one of the Premier League’s top options. However, just as he does with the Brazilian National Team, Ederson comes in second place here. A year after posting 20 clean sheets en route to another top-finish for City, Ederson posted a league-best 16 clean sheets in 2019-20. When in net this season for City, Ederson has been a brick wall — seven clean sheets in 14 appearances.
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13. Alisson — Liverpool
Say hello to the man that has held Ederson to just nine caps for Brazil and 14th place on this list — Alisson. With a tremendous sense of positioning and knack for making huge saves, Alisson has played well enough to be considered the best keeper in the world. His reflexes are some of the best we’ve ever seen. With 13 clean sheets in just 29 appearances for the league-winners last year, Alisson proved he is still the top dog.
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12. Jordan Henderson — Liverpool
Liverpool’s captain since 2015, Jordan Henderson was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for the 2019-20 campaign — nothing more needs to be said.
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11. Marcus Rashford — Manchester United
It is hard to believe that Marcus Rashford is completing his sixth season with Manchester United. It seems like just yesterday that an 18-year-old Rashford slotted home four goals in his first two appearances for the Red Devils. Now, in 2021, Rashford has developed into one of the league’s best players. While he has plenty of pace, he isn’t usually the fastest player on the pitch. Still, thanks to a top-notch skill-set and plethora of moves to shake oncoming defenders, Rashford is a constant threat. In addition to setting a career-high with 17 goals last season, the English star is keen on getting his teammates involved. Not only is he the team’s second-leading goal-scorer, but Rashford has also assisted on more goals than all but one teammate.
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10. Raheem Sterling — Manchester City
Raheem Sterling may not have the prettiest running form, but aesthetics don’t matter much when you are the leading scorer for the Premier League’s highest-scoring club. Sterling frequently speeds by the backline with his torrid pace and precise touches. Capable of playing striker or as a winger, Sterling has become one of the EPL’s most consistent strikers. The 26-year-old has tallied at least 17 goals each of the past three years — 18, 17, 20 — and is just entering his prime. And as long as Kevin De Bruyne is feeding him the ball, he shouldn’t have any problem challenging for the Golden Boot.
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9. Trent Alexander-Arnold — Liverpool
Trent Alexander-Arnold is quickly becoming one of the best full backs in the world. The 22-year-old Liverpool native has taken the Premier League by storm the past two years. Manning the right side of The Reds’ defense, Alexander-Arnold was named to the 2019 PFA Team of the Year alongside his defensive teammates Andrew Robertson and Virgil van Dijk. Nominated for the ’19 Ballon d’Or, Alexander-Arnold was deemed the world’s best full back. Not only is he a lockdown defender, but the right back is an excellent passer and capable scorer (netting four goals a season ago). After recording 12 assists in 2018-19, Alexander-Arnold assisted on 13 goals last campaign. His ball-delivery skills also translate to set-pieces, where the young star is lethal delivering crosses or putting shots on target. Simply put, Alexander-Arnold is a superstar.
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8. Andrew Robertson — Liverpool
Between captaining Scotland and manning left back for Liverpool, Andrew Robertson is in an enviable position. Becoming a full-time starter for The Reds two years ago, Robertson was named to the PFA Team of the Year en route to winning the Champions League. In addition to being a lock down defender, Robertson’s game is enhanced by his ability to make runs down the left flank and send in brilliant crosses to his talented teammates. Robertson has quickly become a cornerstone for a defense that allowed a measly 22 goals two seasons ago, and a league-best 33 last year for the league-winning Reds.
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7. Son Heung-Min — Tottenham
Son Heung-Min is not only one of the best wingers in the world, but also one of the game’s top overall talents. When Son get’s a full head of steam, nobody wants to be in his path. Whether he is slotted on the wing or into an attacking midfield role, Son has the pace and skill to make anything happen. His finishing ability is amongst the world’s best, and he has shown his skill at every level — including the World Cup. This year, Son once again proved to be Tottenham’s most complete player. Son (12 goals through January 8, 2021) trails only Mo Salah (13) in the Golden Boot race. He’s also tied for fifth in assists with five.
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6. Thiago Alcantara — Liverpool
The rich get richer. Liverpool already featured enough talent to field two teams, and then went out and added one of the world’s best central midfielders. Liverpool pried Thiago away from Bayern Munich less than a month after he put together a masterful performance in the Champions League Final. Thiago is capable of making one pass to break open even the most stout defensive groups. Following a gruesome foul that resulted in Thiago injuring his knee, the Spaniard missed several months before returning to the field in the final days of 2020. If Thiago finds his form quickly, Liverpool may just claim another Prem title.
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5. Mohamed Salah — Liverpool
To be frank, nobody saw Mohamed Salah reaching these heights. The Egyptian superstar was a very good player at Roma — 29 goals in 65 appearances — but his play with Liverpool has been sensational. In his debut season (2017-18), Salah was the top goal-scorer throughout Europe’s top five leagues with 36 finishes — including 32 in the EPL. Salah captured a second Golden Boot two years ago, pacing the Premier League with 22 goals. And while he fell short of a third-straight Golden Boot last year, Salah’s 19 goals trailed only four players.
What makes Salah truly special is his elite speed and ball control off the flank. While Salah is obviously amongst the best scorers in the world, he is almost as dangerous setting up his teammates. The Egyptian has assisted on 31 goals since arriving at Liverpool, including three this season to go along with a league-leading 13 goals.
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4. Sadio Mané — Liverpool
World-class is the only way to describe Sadio Mané. The Senegalese winger has quickly become one of the world’s greatest players. Mané is breathtakingly fast, oozing with creativity, and lethal with his head and feet. In 2018-19, he won a share of the Golden Boot with teammate Mo Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Additionally, he finished fourth for the Ballon d’Or. His skill also shines defensively, as the winger frequently tracks back to win the ball and hinder the opponent’s attack. Whether it be winning a key header or intercepting a crucial pass, Mané’s ability to stifle the opposition and quickly go on the counter makes Liverpool one of the top clubs yearly.
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3. Harry Kane — Tottenham
While it’s true Harry Kane hasn’t quite sustained the torrid pace he set from 2014-18 when he scored 105 goals, the English marksman remains a viable threat from anywhere in the final third . Tottenham’s star is a tall, menacing forward who is capable with either foot as well as aerially. Though he is often lauded for his goal-scoring, Kane does quite a good job with link-up play — and is a better passer than he is given credit for. Through 16 appearance in 2020-21, Kane has netted 10 goals and leads the league with 11 assists.
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2. Bruno Fernandes — Manchester United
After three years with Sporting CP, the 26-year-old Portuguese midfielder joined Man U in January 2020. To put it lightly, the move has been a smashing success for both player and club. Fernandes has been one of the league’s best players since his arrival. After collecting seven goals and seven assists in just 13 EPL appearances last year, Fernandes has been on a tear in his first full season. Fernandes’ impact on Man U is evident after the club looked like a lost group last year. He’s nearly single-handedly helped transform the team into a cohesive unit. As of January 8, 2021, the Portuguese international is third in the Prem with 11 goals and third in assists with seven.
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1. Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City
Man City’s maestro controls the game like no other player in the Premier League (and arguably the world). Though he will never be confused for the fastest player, De Bruyne’s instincts and skills are in the 100th-percentile. The Belgian can make any pass on the pitch with ease, and is equally capable of scoring up to 30 yards out. With a plethora of attacking talent surrounding him, De Bruyne doesn’t have to produce many goals — though he still has the class to score. However, beginning with the 2016-17 season, De Bruyne has paced the EPL in assists three-of-four years — 18 in ’16-17, 16 in ’17-18, and 20 last season. De Bruyne is arguably the single-most influential player in the Premier League.
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