Who has been the greatest player in the 2011-2012 season?
Ranking players is often subject to a high-level of controversy, as there are always fans, players and pundits alike who argue a bit differently—perhaps a certain player should have been included, or such a player does not warrant such a ranking.
Nevertheless, I have attempted to construct a ranking based solely on this season's performance, and while it is true that the players ranked span several leagues, the task is rendered a little easier.
Only easier, not free from controversy though.
A few factors have indeed gone into making this slideshow. The factors are individual worth, contribution to the team and overall season.
I hope you forgive me that I have only listed out the players from 50 through 21, while I have provided a bit more description for the players that follow afterwards. I have chosen this method based on the personal experiences of myself and others who frequently skip the latter rankings and chose to concentrate on the top 20 or top 10. I apologize if you are slightly disappointed.
Without further ado, let me present to you the 50 of the best players this season.
50. Arouna Kone, Levante
49. Roberto Soldado, Valencia
48. Loic Remy, Marseille
47. Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund
46. Falcao, Atletico Madrid
45. Christian Eriksen, Ajax Amsterdam
44. Younes Belhanda, Montpellier
43. Mario Mandzukic, VfL Wolfsburg
42. Javi Martinez, Athletic Bilbao
41. Bas Dost, Heerenveen
40. Raul, Schalke
39. Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao
38. Mesut Özil, Real Madrid
37. Jan Vertonghen, Ajax Amsterdam
36. Antonio Di Natale, Udinese
35. Luuk de Jong, Twente
34. Shinji Kagawa, Borussia Dortmund
33. Lars Bender, Bayer Leverkusen
32. Andrea Pirlo, Juventus
31. Michael Carrick, Manchester United
30. Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal
29. Yaya Toure, Manchester City
28. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan
27. Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid
26. Alex Song, Arsenal
25. Edinson Cavani, Napoli
24. Scott Parker, Tottenham Hotspur
23. Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
22. Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich
21. Mario Gomez, Bayern Munich
Barring a slight dip in current form, David Silva has been instrumental for Manchester City all season long. Despite his physique, he has adapted quite well to the pace of the Premier League.
His form will be of essence if Manchester City are to achieve the impossible: overtake Manchester United and win the title.
Paris St. Germain stand second in the Ligue 1 table, separated from Montpellier by a mere three points.
PSG have enjoyed a high level of success this season, and Nene has been instrumental for them, contributing 13 goals and six assists for PSG this season.
Eden Hazard is in the news quite much these days: He is young, dynamic and a versatile midfield talent that would suit with any club.
He can be deployed as either a creative midfielder or a winger and provide that extra level of attacking threat which goes lacking sometimes. He can also fill in the hole behind the strikers, and when other wingers are inconsistent, he operates well on the left flank.
This season, he has been phenomenal for Lille, recording 14 goals and 12 assists already.
Mikel Arteta was brought in to fill the void created by the departure of playmaker and captain Cesc Fabregas.
None had estimated that Arteta might actually bring such a level of discipline and gamesmanship to the Arsenal roster. His maturity and overall talent have been a great blessing for Arsenal, who have seemed to reinvent themselves.
He dictates the game well, picks out superb passes and can strike the ball with thunderous ferocity.
Santiago Cazorla has impressed me highly this season with his versatile midfield play.
Able to operate on the left, right and center and equally impressive as a holding player, Cazorla has been the best player for Malaga this season, who sit currently at forth in the La Liga.
His key strengths lie in passing and through balls, and he is equally good at taking long shots.
Papiss Demba Cisse has had a tremendous season this year. He player 17 games for Freiburg in the Bundesliga, where he stood out for the team by notching up nine goals and recording two assists.
He was signed by Newcastle in the January transfer window, and the Senegalese has adapted very well to the EPL. He might be key in Newcastle's resurgence, as they try to make a bid for Champions League football this season.
Currently playing for Werder Bremen, the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea man, Claudio Pizarro, despite his age, has been highly impressive.
He has been Werder's main man, yet again, this season, scoring 16 goals while contributing eight assists thus far.
In recent years, Luka Modric has been one of my most favorite players to watch.
Currently, Modric is in the prime of his career and occupies a Xavi-esque role in midfield and dictates the play.
Tottenham should hold onto him if they wish to prove as genuine title threats next season.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of the most phenomenal players to have ever played the game.
Although he has built up a lot of reputation in footballing circles, he doesn't have the same level of fans as other players do.
This, I believe is, mainly due to relatively less exposure of the Bundesliga.
Basti's passing is phenomenal, and so is his tackling. He can provide defense splitting through balls, and I rate him above his more renowned teammates like Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez.
While his fellow compatriot Robin van Persie has been basking in all the glory, Klass-Jan Huntelaar has also carved himself up a piece of football recognition.
For Schalke he has been thoroughly significant. As prolific a striker as they come by, Huntelaar has recorded 24 goals already this season.
When Arsenal captain Francesc Fabregas left Arsenal for Barcelona, many assumed that he would be just be warming the benches and getting a few cameo roles whenever Xavi and Iniesta rested.
However, he has been integrated excellently into the thriving Barcelona squad and has improved the squad tremendously.
Who knew he would be such a prolific goalscorer?
Another season, another spectacular Wayne Rooney brace.
In 27 games he has scored 22 goals and registered four assists. He is second only behind Robin van Persie in terms of total goals scored.
He started the season in exceptional form, but he experienced a little dip.
However, he has risen to his ranks yet again, and we can only hope he continues his superb form.
Robert Lewandowski plays as an attacking midfielder (ACM) and forward for Borussia Dortmund, and it is in part due to his massive contribution that Dortmund are sitting atop the table.
With 20 goals and six assists in 30 appearances, the Pole certainly deserves more recognition.
Antonio Valencia has been simply exceptional this season.
His positioning ability in the right flank, his tricks, his pin-point passing and crossing, his marauding runs. All are a spectacle to behold.
It's no wonder that United play a completely different ballgame when Antonio Valencia is in the park.
He has been a constant threat from the right flank.
The number of key passes he makes in a game are phenomenal. In 18 appearances in the Premier League, Valencia has provided an overwhelming 12 assists and has also scored four goals.
He has often been the main man to break the deadlock and provide United with the results that need to be ground out on certain occasions.
Bayern Munich owes much of its success to wing-play.
Franck Ribery has torn apart opposition on a consistent basis with his marauding runs and superb passes from the left flank.
He has been Bayern's best player this season, racking up 11 goals and 11 assists thus far.
Pass Master Xavi Hernadez comes in at five with a staggering 93 percent of his passes completed. Don't forget to add 10 goals and six assists to that tally.
Marco Reus has been, in my opinion, the standout player in the Bundesliga this season.
He is a versatile player capable of operating either as a striker or from the right. He is phenomenal going front and tracks back extensively as well.
At the start of the season, no one expected Mönchengladbach to pose as title threats; they had finished a lowly 16th in the 2010-2011 season.
However, with Marco Reus leading the charge with 15 goals and seven assists, M'gladbach have taken the Bundesliga by storm and are now at a respectable forth position.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the second best player in the world, behind Lionel Messi.
He has had another great season under his belt, notching up 40 goals while contributing 11 assists.
He will be their key player to ensure Real Madrid don't concede the La Liga to Barcelona and will be equally significant for their Champions League campaign.
Every once in a while there comes a player who is a privilege to watch; these days that player goes by the name of Lionel Messi.
One of the best players to have graced the sport, Messi has been equally impressive this season, both in the La Liga and the Champions League. In a total of 48 appearances thus far in all competitions, he has amassed 66 goals and 18 assists.
This is the opportune moment to remind all the readers that this slideshow is a ranking of the players on this season alone, and it is not a ranking of overall talent. If it were so, Lionel Messi would be the undisputed No. 1.
But, this slideshow ranks the players on this season alone, and few will argue against the fact that Robin van Persie has had a simply astounding season.
Robin van Persie has played the most significant part in turning around Arsenal's season. With 27 goals and 10 assists already, he has paved the way to ensure a respectable finish for Arsenal.
While some may point out that stats of Messi and Ronaldo outweigh his', I would like to point out some of the matches of Real Madrid and Barcelona:
Barcelona 5 : 0 Villarreal
Real Madrid 6 : Zaragoza 0
Barcelona 8 : 0 Osasuna
Real Madrid 6 : 2 Roya Vallecano
Barcelona 5 : 0 Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid 4 : 1 Real Betis
Barcelona 5 : 0 Mallorca
Real Madrid 4 : 0 Malaga
Barcelona 4 : 0 Zaragoza
Real Madrid 7 : 1 Osasuna
Barcelona 4 : 0 Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid 4 : 1 Atletico Madrid
Barcelona 5 : 0 Levante
Real Madrid 6 : 2 Sevilla
Barcelona 4 : 2 Real Betis
Real Madrid 5 : 1 Granada
Barcelona 4 : 1 Malaga
Real Madrid 4 : 0 Santandar
Barcelona 5 : 1 Valencia
Real Madrid 5 : 0 Espanyol
And these are only a handful of games. It’s no wonder that Messi’s (and also Cristiano Ronaldo’s) stats are inflated. With a world class team, Real Madrid and Barcelona destroy opposition easily and hence have the phenomenal “statistics.”
Both Ronaldo and Messi are surrounded by world-class teammates who supply great balls on a consistent basis. And while Robin van Persie's teammates are also of exceptional mold, they are not of the quality of Xavi, Iniesta, Mesut Özil and others.
RVP has been an exceptional player and exceptional leader for Arsenal this year and truly turned the season around for them.
The Premier League is also, in my opinion, a league where scoring is a lot harder as defenses clamp down on opposition quickly. Furthermore, each opposition provides quite a contest, and high-scoring matches are a rarity; at least in the Premier League, there is not a duopoly that puts five or six past oppositions.
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