Power Ranking Every Player for Barcelona in 2017/18 Season So Far

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19:  Paulinho of FC Barcelona celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on September 19, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Despite a summer of unrest over transfer dealings, board behaviour and the fact their great rivals had won the lot only a few months earlier, the new season has gone well for Barcelona so far.

Seven matches in, and they sit top of La Liga, five points clear of Sevilla and, more importantly, seven ahead of Real Madrid. They have also claimed two wins from two in their UEFA Champions League group, while the only blot on their on-pitch campaign has been losing out in the Spanish Super Cup to Real at the start of 2017/18.

New manager Ernesto Valverde is winning the trust of the fans and the players, even with his use of some alternating tactical systems not seen too often at the Camp Nou, such as a four-man midfield.

Here, we look at how each player has fared so far, accounting for all competitive matches, and rank them according to individual form and what they have contributed to the team.

Thus far, there are four players who have not seen competitive game time in 2017/18, three of whom have been on the bench: Jasper Cillessen the No. 2 goalkeeper, backup centre-back Thomas Vermaelen and out-of-favour Arda Turan. The fourth, Rafinha, has a longer-term injury.

              

20. Paco Alcacer

VITORIA-GASTEIZ, SPAIN - AUGUST 26:  Paco Alcacer of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between Deportivo Alaves and Barcelona at Estadio de Mendizorroza on August 26, 2017 in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Ima
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

How much has he played? Very little. What has he contributed? Nothing. In three appearances so far, two have been in La Liga, and in that time, he's registered two shots, per WhoScored.com.

Alcacer hasn't done much else—he hasn't had time to do much elseand doesn't look as though he'll be relied upon.

                

19. Andre Gomes

Not far ahead is Andre Gomes, who is still struggling to make an impact at the Camp Nou.

Despite playing six times, he has only racked up 110 minutes thus far—the second-lowest in the entire squad. He is Valverde's cameo man, yet to feature for more than 13 minutes at a time since the Super Cup second leg.

Gomes has much to do in order to convince.

             

18. Lucas Digne

The fewest minutes in the (playing) squad thus far are owned by Digne, with the left-back totalling only 105 minutes—but he does have a start in La Liga under his belt, and he did play well.

He will have a tough job replacing Jordi Alba, but Digne is reliable and will hope for more opportunities as the season goes on.

                  

17. Javier Mascherano

It hasn't been the best start to the season for the veteran Argentinian, and as he's essentially now the third-choice centre-back, he may need some time to adjust to ensure he's playing well without being in the two-games-a-week rhythm.

Still aggressive, barking orders and no doubt set to play a key role across the campaign, he's had one or two difficult moments already; at 33, he is one of those who is to be phased out of the side.

                 

16. Aleix Vidal

Vidal has been in and out of the team, but he has two aspects going for him: great pace and the ability to play as a true winger, which few others in the Barcelona squad have.

Valverde's 4-4-2 variation is a system that suits Vidal, and he's done well as an option down the right. He's not likely to be a starter every week, but he could be set for a more prominent role than might have been expected.

              

15. Gerard Deulofeu

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Gerard Deulofeu Lazaro of FC Barcelona looks during the La Liga 2017-18 match between FC Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on 19 September 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Deulofeu started the season in the team after Neymar's departure, but he hasn't been able to hold on to one of the forward spots.

He's hardworking and trying to be tactically astute for the team, but Deulofeu has never had the sort of consistency or end product that is demanded as a front-line player in this Barcelona side. It's not a surprise to see him quickly drop out.

An impact sub and irregular starter is the best he can hope for unless he discovers a more prolific tendency.

               

14. Ousmane Dembele

Difficult to judge given his limited game time and the fanfare surrounding his eventual arrival, but Dembele's quick exit through injury means the jury is out on him.

He's yet to play a full 90 minutes, but he has already claimed an assist and given brief glimpses of that incredible individual quality he possesses. Still, it's a frustration that he will be absent for a while now.

            

13. Luis Suarez

Speaking of frustration, that's the emotion which has been etched over Luis Suarez's face for much of the campaign so far.

The Uruguayan has struggled to hit peak form after injury, only netting against Espanyol and Girona, and looking short of his sharpest level with both his first touch and decision-making.

His movement is still of the highest order, and his work rate means he won't remain at this level for long, but so far it has been a month or so of spurned chances and irritating failures to control the ball in dangerous areas.

He'll be back soon.

             

12. Gerard Pique

Pique has had the odd decent game, but he seems to be another who is stuttering into gear early on this season rather than hitting the ground running.

He hasn't made any decisive errors, nor been to blame for dropping a single league point—Barca have won all seven games—but he just looks a yard off the pace at times, failing to spot runners or not making the clearances he should.

As with Suarez, it's likely he will find top form sooner rather than later.

              

11. Nelson Semedo

New arrival Nelson Semedo has surprisingly been left out of some games, but in the matches he has been chosen to start, the Portuguese right-back has made it clear he is a top-notch signing who will give Barcelona everything they lacked last term in the position.

Industrious running, great penetration when needed, the ability to link play and a fine final ball all make him the archetypal full-back Luis Enrique would have loved to see replace Dani Alves.

It can't be long before he nails down a regular starting spot.

              

10. Denis Suarez

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Denis Suarez Fernandez of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his goal during the La Liga 2017-18 match between FC Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on 19 September 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

The inverse of Deulofeu: Denis Suarez started off sidelined but has worked his way into the team as a starting option thanks to his ability to link play and contribute in the final third.

Not as naturally blessed with pace as Deulofeu, he nonetheless has more invention, care in his passing and a natural propensity to sit narrow—great for the four-man midfield lineup and even more useful when he's a true interior player in the 4-3-3 system.

Two goals and two assists in his last four league appearances show the kind of output required to stay in the team.

               

9. Sergi Roberto

The third component of the right-side battle, Sergi Roberto can play full-back, midfield, wide or wherever else he's required.

It's that sort of versatility, as well as his consistent ability on the ball, that sees him reside in the top 10 of Barca players this season by game time (695 minutes) without really having a defined role in the team.

It's fair to say, it also helps that he rarely has a bad game, dovetails nicely with whoever is in front of him in midfield and can impact in the final third.

                  

8. Sergio Busquets

It's no surprise that Busquets has impressed, though he was set to be a little higher in the rankings until an uneven weekend performance against Las Palmas, when some of his passing was somewhat wayward.

Even so, he scored a key goal—his first of the season—and is a vital component in Valverde's team, offering balance and protection as the manager rearranges the side.

It's also worth noting that Busquets has adapted well to playing in a two-man midfield so far.

                  

7. Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta has had an upsurge in form at the start of this season—and that's something every football fan (with one or two notable exceptions) should be happy about.

Iniesta simply didn't impact on matches enough in 2016/17 as Luis Enrique managed his game time; the technical ability is always there, but the domination and direction was not.

So far this term, he looks fit and strong, and he is playing in every game and enjoying the freedom of the left channel.

             

6. Paulinho

Considering so many fans didn't want him to sign, Paulinho is dangerously close to becoming a cult figure already at the Camp Nou.

Two goals to his name in his first four appearances have set the tone for what he can bring to Barcelona: powerful surging runs from deep, an aerial ability the team have not had for years and determined running in the channels.

A good start to life outside of China.

                 

5. Ivan Rakitic

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 01:  Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Las Palmas at Camp Nou on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Quietly but effectively, Ivan Rakitic has made himself an undroppable part of the side once again.

He has stepped up this season, creating chances and pushing the team forward, linking with his front players and even notching a goal for himself against Juventus.

Rakitic is an ideal midfield option when Valverde only wants two in the centre, and we already know he's among the elite in a three with more licence to surge forward.

This could have been a campaign of change in the centre of the park, but the Croatian is showing he'll remain where he has been.

                 

4. Jordi Alba

Jordi Alba has such a repetitive and linear role in the side that he will either do it well or be completely marginalised in any given game.

Speeding down the wing, he allows the left-sided player to cut infield, offering link play and creativity while Alba stretches the defence and allows for the diagonal ball. In defence, his recovery pace is his biggest asset, along with his competitiveness and aggression.

It's the same every game, and he has done it well.

             

3. Marc-Andre ter Stegen

goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League group D match between FC Barcelona and Juventus FC  on September 12, 2017  at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

There have been no minutes for Cillessen because there's no need. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is one of the most well-rounded and complete goalkeepers in world football, and he has been showing consistency to go with that ability for many months at club level.

This season, it has been more of the same: good shot-stopping, organisation work which improves as he ages and his ever-impressive distribution.

                  

2. Samuel Umtiti

LISBON, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 27: Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti from France during UEFA Champions League round two match between Sporting CP and FC Barcelona at Estadio Jose Alvalade on September 27, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

French defender Umtiti was tremendous last year, the best signing of the summer for Barcelona, and he has continued his progression in 2017/18.

He's the most composed option in the middle, but he also remains aggressive, fast to react in transitions and good in the air.

A top-class centre-back who is enjoying a good start to the new season. There's no reason why he can't be France and Barca's first choice for the next half-a-dozen years at the least.

                

1. Lionel Messi 

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Lionel Andres Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his goal during the La Liga 2017-18 match between FC Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on 19 September 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Ge
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

No prizes for guessing Lionel Messi tops the charts after a phenomenal start to the season.

The No. 10 has averaged a goal every 70.7 minutes so far this season, a ridiculous strike rate that includes two against Juventus and two La Liga hat-tricks.

Add in his creativity for team-mates, his solo ability that has made the difference more than once already and the fact Valverde is getting him into central positions as much as possible, and it's not outrageous to imagine this could be another season where Messi takes a step up in productivity, which is astonishing.

Barcelona's best.

                

Twitter.com/karlmatchett

Facebook.com/karlmatchett.football

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