Football is so unnecessarily complicated, don’t you think? 22 players, seven subs and two sets of backroom staff, surely there’s a way to streamline the Premier League?
What if teams were compiled of just one player? 20 of the absolute best forced to compete in one vs one street football matches for the title.
Okay…maybe that’s a bit of a madcap idea, but it did get us thinking about an all together more manageable concept.
If you ranked every team’s best player, how different would this look to the current Premier League table? Well, we had a go and this is how it turned out.
20 – Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City)
We’re truly sorry Emiliano but someone had to be last.
Norwich are currently deep in relegation trouble, but one Canary who will almost certainly be playing in the Premier League next season is Buendia.
The Argentine’s abundance of creativity and intelligent pressing game have made him a wanted man and he could be available for a knock down price if Daniel Farke’s side go down.
19 – Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)
Newcastle’s ability to defy their xG numbers this season has been nothing short of miraculous. A big reason for this has been the impressive form of Martin Dubravka.
The Slovak stopper may have made a few errors, but he has comfortably pulled off more saves than anyone else in the division.
18 – Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)
Remember Roberto? You know, West Ham’s backup keeper who appeared to grease up his gloves before every appearances. With the tattoos? Yes, that’s the one.
Thankfully for the Hammers, the Spaniard’s reign of terror did not last that long as star man Fabianski swooped in to save the day – that one horror mistake against Liverpool aside of course.
17 – Nathan Aké (Bournemouth)
Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson’s regression this season has left Bournemouth without a standout attacking player, meaning we’ve had to look at their defensive unit to find a star.
In the case of Nathan Aké, the Cherries can boast a rare example of a record signing actually working out. The composed Dutchman will be snapped up immediately should Eddie Howe’s side get relegated.
16 – Lewis Dunk (Brighton)
Last summer, Leicester were quoted £45m for Lewis Dunk. Many people laughed at the time, but once again the Englishman has proved himself to be a properly good centre-back this season.
Composed and authoritative all tied up in one physically imposing package, maybe the Foxes will be tempted to part with their cash this time around – whenever the transfer window opens.
15 – Nick Pope (Burnley)
If Euro 2020 was going ahead this summer – thanks coronavirus – 90min would be throwing all our weight behind a grassroots campaign to give Nick Pope England’s number one jersey.
No one has kept more clean sheets in the Premier League this season, especially not an increasingly error prone Jordan Pickford.
14 – John Fleck (Sheffield United)
A lot of feel good stories have come out of Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United squad this season, but few have been as uplifting as John Fleck’s.
Signed on a free from Coventry back in 2016, the Scotsman seemed destined for a life as a Championship plodder.
13 – Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)
Did you know that Gerard Deulofeu has hit the post five times this season. Mad isn’t it?
If he had adjusted his scoring boots by a few centimetres he’d have nine Premier League goals along with five assists. This would be considered an incredible season, especially taking into account Watford’s struggles.
Instead the Spaniard has received criticism for inconsistency. Talk about fine margins.
12 – Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
After missing out on a dream move to Arsenal in the summer, Wilfried Zaha has been quite underwhelming this season – by his own sickeningly good standards anyway.
Saying that, despite competition from the Eagles stubborn defence he remains the club’s star man, capable of performing feats that most players can only dream of.
11 – Danny Ings (Southampton)
The redemption of Danny Ings has been one of most enthralling sub-plots of the Premier League season.
Averaging just over a goal every other game, Ings would have been a dead cert for the Three Lions squad this summer, prior to Euro 2020’s cancellation.
10 – Richarlison (Everton)
January was a much simpler time, wasn’t it? A time when all we had to worry about was which ridiculous transfer rumour would surface next.
The cream of the crop of the most recent transfer window had to be Barcelona’s
9 – Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
’Underrated’ is horribly overused word, but that’s not going to stop us using it to describe Wolves’ star man Raul Jimenez.
The Mexican is the archetypal complete forward, possessing ruthless finishing and the ability to bring his teammates into play. He’s even better than Adama Traore and no, we won’t be persuaded otherwise.
8 – Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Off-field idiocy aside, Jack Grealish is one of the best playmakers in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has single handedly orchestrated the Aston Villa attack this season and draws about 100 fouls per games – mainly from vengeful defenders he has just humiliated with a cheeky nutmeg or body feint.
7 – Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
6 – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Marcus Rashford was enjoying the best season of his career before he was struck down with injury in January.
It later emerged that Rashford had been enduring excruciating pain to carry on playing after Christmas. Typical of a diehard Manchester United fan who looks set to rip up Premier League defences for years to come.
5 – Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Four years on from his greatest hour, Jamie Vardy remains central to Leicester’s game plan.
He may not chase down lost causes quite as manically as before, but his relentless pressing and intelligent movement has yielded a spectacular goal return this season.
4 – Harry Kane (Tottenham)
It’s been a funny old season for the Tottenham squad, none more so than for Harry Kane who suffered a campaign-ending – or so he thought – injury at the beginning of the year.
The increased frequency of his fitness problems are a definite worry, but one would expect Kane to be back with a vengeance when the season resumes. That my friends is a very scary thought.
3 – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Though his performances have somewhat flown under the radar this season, N’Golo Kante remains the best in the world at what he does.
Recent talk of him being sold is ridiculously short sighted. Chelsea should avoid letting him go at all costs.
2 – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Picking just one Liverpool player to include on this list was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make.
In the end we went for the trailblazing, hell-raising, almost Ballon d’Or winning Virgil van Dijk.
Why? Simple really. He’s the best centre-back in the world.
1 – Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Kevin de Bruyne has been incredible this season, racking up an obscene amount of goal involvements in what could be one of his last campaigns at the Etihad Stadium – though Manchester City fans will be hoping their talisman sticks by the club during their Champions League ban.
For more from Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter!