With 2020 finally coming to a close, one of the few positives from this year has been the amount and quality of top level football that has been played. In a season when Bayern Munich won the treble, Liverpool lifted their first Premier League title and no football was played for three months, who have been the best players in the world?
As UEFA usually use a 4-3-3 formation for their team of the year, this team will follow that as well.
In goal is Manuel Neuer, following a few years of not being considered for the best keeper on the planet, its hard to look past being Bayerns first choice, and club captain. The German was as influential as ever, and is deserving of his spot in this team. Other honourable mentions go to Alisson, Jan Oblak and Keylor Navas.
On the right of defence its hard to look past Trent Alexander-Arnold. The young Liverpudlian is living everyones dream, and even captained the club he has supported since childhood for the first time on Wednesday night. Although he has not been as deadly as last season so far in 2020/21, he has still been capable and is leagues ahead of the rest of the competition for his right-back berth.
In central defence, another Liverpool man walks into this side in Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutchman looks to be out for the remainder of the season, but in the reds title charge he was as key as Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Time will only tell how much he will be missed by Liverpool, as they look to defend their title without their rock in defence.
Partnering Van Dijk is another Bayern star, although he has been linked with a move away in recent weeks. That man is David Alaba, and the Austrian was an ever-present in the heart of the Bayern defence. Possibly one of the best utility man in world football, he could star in any position on the pitch.
Finishing off the defence on the left is Alphonso Davies, who really burst onto the scene over the last year, and played almost every game for the eventual champions of Europe. The Canadian youngsters rise to stardom is great to read about, and he could be one of the best full backs in the world for years to come.
Honourable mentions in defence go to Andy Robertson, Sergio Ramos and Thiago Silva, as all three have been crucial for their clubs this year.
In midfield, yet another Bayern Munich star has to be included, and that man is Joshua Kimmich. Spending most of the last year in a defensive midfield position, he is maybe the only man who could challenge Trent for the right back slot, but as he doesn’t play there regularly anymore he has to be counted as a midfielder.
Alongside Kimmich is a man who started the year in Munich, but has since signed for the English champions. Thiago Alcantara deserves his spot in this XI, having won the treble last year as a deep lying playmaker. So far for Liverpool he has played slightly further forward, but is able to play anywhere in central midfield.
The first Non-Liverpool or Bayern man in this team is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who is possibly the best creative midfielder in the world at current. He managed to stay injury free for the majority of 2020, and his performances proved once again what a talent the Belgian is.
Some players who could have made this XI are Jordan Henderson who captained Liverpool to their first league title since 1990 and Thomas Muller who surprisingly regained his form from his glory years.
In attack, UEFA usually have two wingers and traditional number 9, and filling that role has to be Robert Lewandowski, who has been Bayerns talisman in 2020, and must go down as one of the best free transfers in history. The ever-present Pole lead from the front, as the sole striker and top scorer in every competition he played in last season.
On the flanks, Lionel Messi has not had as great a season as many expected, but he still carries a struggling Barcelona side. Whilst it would have been great to see him move in summer, he has cemented himself as one of Barcelonas greats, and one of the greatest players of all time, and his 2020 performance was still excellent.
On the other wing is another Liverpool player, and the only African included, and that is Sadio Mane. The senegalese wide-man has been great for Liverpool, and scores regularly playing off the left. In Liverpools system where Firmino drops into midfield, Mane can run in behind and use his pace and finishing to great effect. However, it comes down to a matter of opinion on who is better, Salah or Mane.
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By Sam Hutchison