5. Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
How great it is to see a fit and firing Reus again. The German endured a torrid 2017/18 as he came back from another injury, this time a cruciate ligament rupture, but has arguably shown the best form of his career for BVB this term.
Only two players in the Bundesliga have scored more than his 15, he netted in all three of Dortmund’s DFB-Pokal matches and has generally sparkled for Lucien Favre’s title challengers. Going out of the Champions League so early against Tottenham was a great shame – he missed the first leg with a niggle – but the 29-year-old is brilliant again and back for good. And long may it continue.
4. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
After scoring twice – one a spectacular overhead kick – in the Champions League final victory over Liverpool in May, Bale hinted that his future lay away from Real Madrid. Ronaldo’s subsequent departure changed everything, though, allowing the Welshman to take a prominent role at the Bernabeu.
Bale has responded well in the early weeks of 2018/19, but it hasn’t turned out to be his season in the Spanish capital. He’s been subjected to the infamous Bernabeu boos at time this term, come under flak from his own team-mates for not embedding himself in Spanish culture and started only 17 La Liga games. But recent form has been much more promising and he’s now got a second chance under Zinedine Zidane. Still a mighty fine player.
3. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Sterling enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017/18, scoring 23 goals and setting up another 12 for Pep Guardiola’s fearsome Manchester City. The 24-year-old doesn’t always look like the most natural finisher, but his end product is continually suggesting otherwise – 19 more goals for City this term, plus a recent hat-trick for England and another goal against Montenegro.
Sterling offers a great deal more besides goals, though; the winger’s terrific, intelligent movement is one of his standout attributes. His off-the-ball running was a key feature of England’s attacking play at the World Cup, where he didn’t score but still contributed plenty to the cause.
2. Sadio Mané (Liverpool)
Mané’s contributions were overshadowed by Mohamed Salah’s sensational season in 2017/18, but the Senegalese speedster is well in the mix to wrestle the Golden Boot from his team-mate this year – tied on 17 goals with Salah and one off leader Sergio Aguero.
A pacey, direct runner with the ball at his feet, Mané commits defenders and opens up space for others with his sharp movement in and out of possession. His shooting is excellent, combining power and precision, while his regular stream of assists have helped keep the most dangerous frontline in English football firing.
1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
There haven’t been many more spectacular debut seasons than Salah’s in 2017/18. Signed from Roma the previous summer, the Egypt international plundered 44 goals in all competitions as Liverpool finished in the top four of the Premier League and reached the Champions League final, in which an early injury to their star man severely damaged their chances of victory.
Salah has always been blessed with the speed of a sprinter, but he’s now far more effective in the final third. Much like Arjen Robben in his heyday, defenders know that the former Chelsea man wants to cut onto his left foot and shoot… but stopping him is a different matter entirely.