The 50 Best Footballers of the Season in Europe

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIMay 22, 2012

The 50 Best Footballers of the Season in Europe

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    This season has seen some pretty great individual performances from players all across Europe.

    While there are a fair share of the usual suspects on this list, a few other players performed well enough for their teams to be considered for this list.

    Reputation definitely does not play a part here and there may be one or two surprise exclusions. The achievements of a players team does not necessarily impact proceedings either, though winning silverware certainly does help.

    This list features players who have been a major factor in their team's successes this season and have had very good individual season as well.

    In no particular order, here are the 50 Best Players of the season in Europe.

Fernando Llorente

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    Fernando Llorente helped his team to two cup finals with his goals and will have another shot at glory this weekend.

    He scored 29 goals in 38 games for the club and was again an instrumental factor in the teams fortunes this season.

Antonio Di Natale

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    Udinese has directly qualified for the Champions League next season and Antonio Di Natale's performances went a long way to ensuring that happened.

    Despite the team missing arguably its best defender from last year, Christian Zapata, and one of their most exciting attackers, Alexis Sanchez, they still managed third place ahead of teams like Napoli and Inter.

    Di Natale's 23 league goals, which places him tied for third on the Serie A list, went a long way to ensuring their position.

Younes Belhanda

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    While Olivier Giroud will likely get most of the praise and it is quite deserved, Younes Belhanda was just as instrumental in helping Montpellier win the French title.

    Belhanda's creative skills helped keep the ball rolling for his side and he even contributed 12 goals in the league.

Jan Vertonghen

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    Jan Vertonghen picked up the Dutch Footballer of the Year award as he continued to show his versatility and solidity in a number of positions for both club and country.

    He chipped in with eight goals in the Eredivisie as he led Ajax to another league title.


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    Nene helped PSG push Montpellier all the way for the title with a haul of 21 goals and 11 assists in the 2011-12 Ligue 1 campaign. He scored 26 goals and had 13 assists in all competitions.

    Though PSG went out and signed players like Kevin Gameiro and Jeremy Menez to strengthen the attack, Nene produced more than both the new boys combined in the goals category and almost did the same with the assists as well.

Arturo Vidal

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    Arturo Vidal came into Italy and was a pivotal part of the Juventus team from day one. His high energy play led to him contributing on both ends of the pitch.

    He scored seven goals and added four assists but his high tackle rate, the best in the Serie A, as well as his interceptions meant that Andrea Pirlo was given the freedom he needed to influence proceedings.

Javier Martinez

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    Javi Martinez impressed suitors this season with some solid displays both as a center back and in defensive midfield.

    The strongly-built, athletic Bilbao player has some great positional skills and a good passing ability as well, making him a solid player in either of his two positions.

Javier Pastore

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    Javier Pastore's debut season in France was pretty solid. The Argentinean midfielder scored 13 league goals and added six assists as PSG just missed out on winning the French title.

Javier Mascherano

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    Javier Mascherano has been a key man for Barcelona this season. With both Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique struggling with form and fitness at various points during the season, Mascherano was the clubs best center back option.

    He performed really well in that position when needed, using his pace and positional sense to snuff out any danger that Barcelona had. He was pretty consistent throughout the season as well.

Papiss Cisse

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    Papiss Cisse continued his good form from the previous year with a haul of 22 goals in 31 games.

    Cisse did this while playing for two different teams and its his performances with Newcastle that really stand out as he hit 13 goals in 14 games for the club and helped them achieve a European position.

Burak Yilmaz

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    Burak Yilmaz did something even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could not do by scoring over 50 percent of his team's goals in the Turkish League.

    The Trabzonspor forward scored 33 goals in 34 games for his club this season.

Laurent Koscielny

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    Looking at Arsenal's defensive record it would be hard to say that Laurent Koscielny is one of the best players of the season.

    If you focus on the players performances alone however you would have seen a player who showed incredible growth and was Arsenal's best defender throughout the season. He will likely keep a very experienced player like Per Mertesacker on the bench next season.

Edinson Cavani

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    Edinson Cavani continued to impress suitors this season with 33 goals in 45 games for Napoli.

    His consistency in front of goal as well as his versatility, energy and mobility make him a dangerous prospect for any opponent. Those attributes were on display a number of times this week.

David Silva

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    David Silva led the Premier League in assists this year, doubling his tally from the 2010-11 season in the process.

    Sergio Aguero may have continued to bang in the goals but Silva's playmaking skills played a major part in Manchester City becoming the major offensive force that it became this season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    While credit has to be given to Juventus for their undefeated season, another reason why AC Milan lost out on the Serie A title is the lack of help that Zlatan Ibrahimovic received.

    The Swede led the league in scoring with 28 goals and overall he scored 35 goals in 42 games for his club.

Gareth Bale

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    Gareth Bale continued to confirm his World Class status by improving upon his productivity from the previous season.

    Bale scored 12 goals and had 14 assists in all competitions this season. He led the team in assists and was the fourth-leading scorer.

Shinji Kagawa

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    Shinji Kagawa missed half of last season through injury but showed just what he could do this year with a full season under his belt.

    Seventeen goals and 10 assists in 42 games and a notably impressive performance in the German cup final against Bayern Munich has seen the player receive a lot of attention and he has been strongly linked to Manchester United in recent weeks.

Mario Gomez

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    Mario Gomez will regret some of his missed chances in the Champions League final but he had a productive season nonetheless.

    He scored 40 goals in 44 games for Bayern Munich this season and will be looking to continue that form in the Euro 2012 tournament for Germany.

Santiago Cazorla

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    Santiago Cazorla's performances this season gave Malaga's new owners just what they wanted this season, a chance to play in the Champions League.

    Cazora's nine goals and five assists in the league tell just some of the story for the player who was bought to lead the expensively assembled team in its new project and he did just that with some influential displays throughout the season.

Victor Valdes

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    Victor Valdes claimed the Zamora trophy for the fourth consecutive time this season. He conceded the least amount of goals and had the best goals to games ratio of any goalkeeper.

    Valdes may benefit from Barcelona's possession game but at times he deals with a great amount of one-on-ones and usually comes up on top. The fact that he continues to beat Iker Casillas to the this title says much about his individual goalkeeping skills.

Sergio Ramos

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    Real Madrid did not miss much in defense with Ricardo Carvalho out injured as Sergio Ramos stepped into the position

    Ramos' play in the center of defense has earned him some much deserved praise this season. The Real Madrid player has shown that he is now quite capable of being World Class in two positions.

    He also chipped in with four goals and seven assists for his team.

Yaya Toure

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    Yaya Toure provided a little bit of everything for Manchester City this season. He chipped in with nine goals and nine assists in all competitions but it was his energy and drive that kept City going as the season progressed.

    David Silva may have provided more assists but without Yaya Toure the City engine room would not have been as effective as it needed to be.

Manuel Neuer

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    Manuel Neuer almost won two key penalty shootouts in a row to help his team win the Champions League.

    Though that was not the case, he was still the best keeper in the Bundesliga with the most clean sheets, 17, and the least goals conceded, 22.

Antonio Valencia

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    Antonio Valencia was Manchester United's best winger this season and that is saying a lot considering the competition he had in the form of Ashley Young and Nani.

    Injuries slowed him down a little but he still managed six goals and 13 assists for the club and was almost as influential as Wayne Rooney towards the end of the season.

Diego Milito

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    Diego Milito did his best to keep Inter afloat with 24 goals and three assists in the Serie A but the team finished three points away from a Europa league spot.

    With those statistics Milito accounted for almost half of Inter's league goals this season.

Vincent Kompany

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    For teams to get through Joe Hart they had to get past Vincent Kompany and that certainly was not an easy task. Kompany was rock solid for Manchester City defensively but made some telling contributions on the offensive end as well.

    His game-winning goal against Manchester United late in the season was a deciding factor in the teams eventual title victory. He won the Barclays Player of the Season award for his efforts.

Bas Dost

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    Thirty-two goals in 25 games gives Bas Dost one of the best goalscoring rates in Europe this season. Bas Dost's goals helped Herenveen to fifth place in the Eredivisie and a Europa league playoff position.

Scott Parker

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    Scott Parker won the Footballer of the Year award last year and continued his good performances for Tottenham this season.

    He stabilized the teams midfield and was a major reason why they were able to put up a fight for the title early on. Had everything else fallen into place he could have picked up either an FA Cup trophy or even a league title in his debut season at the club.

Karim Benzema

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    Karim Benzema really stepped up for Real Madrid this year with 32 goals in 52 games. He added 13 assists to that tally and certainly helped take some of the pressure off Cristiano Ronaldo.

Marco Reus

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    Marco Reus scored 21 goals and picked up 10 assists in all competitions for Borussia Mochengladbach.

    With 18 goals and nine assists in the league, Reus accounted for over half of his club's 49 Bundesliga goals and is a major reason why they ended the season in a Champions League qualification spot.

Joe Hart

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    England's No. 1 goalkeeper will have English fans feeling confident about that area of the team when Euro 2012 rolls around.

    Hart marshaled the Premier League's stingiest defense and picked up a league-leading 17 clean sheets in the process.

Gianluigi Buffon

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    It is no wonder Juventus had the best defense in the Serie A by far as Gianluigi Buffon led the Serie A in clean sheets with 21.

    Buffon has been one of the top goalkeepers in the game for some time and this season he has really come back on form with some great displays.

Robert Lewandowski

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    Robert Lewandowski played a big role in helping Borussia Dortmund retain its Bundesliga title. The Polish striker was the third highest scorer in the league with 22 goals to his name.

    Overall he scored 30 goals in 44 games.

Sebastian Giovinco

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    Sebastian Giovinco impressed this season at Parma with his best return in the goals and assists categories to date.

    The "Atomic Ant" scored 15 goals and had 11 assists in the Serie A and his performances have attracted the attention of teams like Barcelona and Manchester City.

    His future will be sorted out at the end of Euro 2012.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

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    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar seems to get better with age and this season was possibly his best one to date. The Dutch striker scored 44 goals in 46 games for Schalke at a rate of 0.96 goals per game.

    That scoring rate is up there with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and confirms his status as one of the most prolific forwards in the game right now.

Mesut Ozil

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    Mesut Ozil scored seven goals and added 20 assists this season and his statistics during Real Madrid's title winning league campaign, four goals and 17 assists, were virtually identical to the year before.

    Ozil continues to confirm his status as one of the best playmakers around and, at the age of 23, he can only get better.

Olivier Giroud

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    Olivier Giroud fired Montpellier to its first Ligue title with 21 league goals and nine league assists. His play throughout the year attracted a lot of attention and he may well be on the move this summer.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

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    Borussia Mochengladbach could have gotten into the Champions League places if the team could have scored more goals.

    Marc-Andre Ter Stegen's 0.71 goals against average and 15 shutouts helped them to the second best defensive record in the league.

    Ter Stegen looks likely to be the next in the line of great German goalkeepers if he continues to perform at this level and improves.

Fabrizio Miccoli

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    Palermo missed the influence of Javier Pastore quite a lot this season but Fabrizio Miccoli did his best to fill the void.

    Miccoli picked up 16 goals and 12 assists in the Serie A this season and accounted for over half of the club goal tally in the league.

Wayne Rooney

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    Wayne Rooney turned up the heat as the season progressed and managed to finish with 34 goals in 41 games.

    His play in the later part of the season helped Manchester United really put the pressure on rivals Manchester City. Had he gotten a little more help things may have turned out differently.

Eden Hazard

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    Eden Hazard picked up his second straight Ligue 1 Player of the Year award and was quite deserving of the honor.

    He had to do without the help of Gervinho and Yohan Cabaye as well as only half a seasons worth of productivity from Moussa Sow. Hazard still managed to score 20 goals and create 16 as well.

Thiago Silva

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    AC Milan may have missed the presence of Andrea Pirlo in midfield but they were perfectly fine in defense when Thiago Silva was in the lineup.

    Silva is arguably the best center back in World Football right now and his influential displays for Milan this season are a big reason why.

Andrea Pirlo

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    Andrea Pirlo led the Serie A in assists this year with 13 and has to be given his due for playing a big part in Juventus' undefeated title success.

    Were it not for Pirlo's playmaking skills, AC Milan could have been enjoying another Serie A title with the Italian in their side.


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    Radamel Falcao is another impressive forward who has led his team to title glory this season. With 36 goals in 47 games, the athletic Madrid forward spearheaded his teams Europa league victory and may be on the move a bigger European club this summer.

Juan Mata

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    Juan Mata was a key component in the Chelsea machine throughout the season. He contributed a decent amount of goals and assists but it was his all-round creative play that helped Chelsea through some tough moments.

Didier Drogba

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    Didier Drogba fired Chelsea to FA Cup and Champions League victories this season and took away Fernando Torres' starting spot in the process.

    Chelsea will have a hard time replacing him if he does leave the club.

Robin Van Persie

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    Robin Van Persie scored an incredible 36 goals in 44 games this. It may not be so good when compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but that's even better than the likes of Sergio Aguero.

    Van Persie kept Arsenal afloat during one of the clubs most disappointing seasons and he has to be considered as the major factor int he teams somewhat surprising third place finish.

Sergio Aguero

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    Sergio Aguero came to the Premier League and did not miss a beat while leading his new club in scoring.

    He has already etched himself in the Manchester City history books by scoring "the" goal that won the title the club has wanted for the longest while.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Cristiano Ronaldo was the closest competitor to Lionel Messi in the goals column with 60 to his name and he already has some silverware to add to his collection.

    Ronaldo scored some key goals to lead Real Madrid to the La Liga title and his game-winner against Barcelona will definitely stand out.

Lionel Messi

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    Lionel Messi has had a record-breaking season so far with 72 goals in all competitions.

    While he does not have any silverware to show for it yet—Barcelona still has the Copa Del Rey final against Atletico Madrid this Friday—there are players with much less contributions to their squad this season who are on this list.