Premier League 100: Ranking Best Players Entering 2018/19 Season
We're on the eve of a brand new Premier League season.
The 2018-19 campaign kicks off on Friday night as Manchester United take on Leicester City, and then we're into the thick of it; a 38-round slog to see who will be crowned champions, secure European berths and avoid relegation.
As is tradition, B/R raises the curtain on this new term with an opening edition of the EPL100, a ranking of the very best players per position in the division. Once the season kicks off, this will turn into a rolling, performance-based ranking—shelving reputations and focusing solely on output—but for now, it's an overall ranking of the best.
With no form to go on, we've simply asked "Who is better?"
For example, James Tarkowski had a better 2018-19 season than Vincent Kompany, but most would still regard the Manchester City man as the better player. Bear this in mind when you flick through the rankings.
Note: Badly injured players have not been included. That includes Laurent Koscielny, who at 32 and with a torn Achilles tendon is impossible to gauge, and Manuel Lanzini, who will miss the rest of the year at least with a torn ACL.
Despite a pretty horrid World Cup, David De Gea's spot at the top of the goalkeeper rankings is more than secure. He's the best in the league, and for now it's not really up for debate.
Ederson vs. Alisson is an interesting battle as they're closely matched and also compatriots; we've given Ederson the nod for second given he has a year in England under his belt and is more acclimatised.
Hugo Lloris as low as seventh may surprise some people, but he's no longer the dependable No. 1 he was after an error-riddled 2017-18 season. Nick Pope props up the top 10, with honourable mentions going to Tom Heaton and Lukasz Fabianski.
|1||David De Gea||Manchester United|
|2||Ederson Moraes||Manchester City|
|5||Kasper Schmeichel||Leicester City|
|6||Rui Patricio||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|7||Hugo Lloris||Tottenham Hotspur|
With Cesar Azpilicueta looking extremely likely to play right-back under Maurizio Sarri, he features in this section, placing in second behind 2017-18 Team of the Year selection Kyle Walker. Perhaps as he adapts back to the flank he overtakes Walker, but for now Azpilicueta will have to make do here.
Kieran Trippier had an incredible World Cup, and Tottenham Hotspur fans will hope to see him translate those performances from country to club. He did things for England—such as dribble and take players on—that he rarely does for the Lilywhites.
Leicester City have signed a good one in Ricardo Pereira; expect him to shine under Claude Puel's direction.
|1||Kyle Walker||Manchester City|
|3||Antonio Valencia||Manchester United|
|4||Ricardo Pereira||Leicester City|
|5||Kieran Trippier||Tottenham Hotspur|
If Sunday's Community Shield match is anything to go by, Benjamin Mendy looks fit and ready to go. That should concern all Premier League right-siders, as he is one serious handful when powering forward.
Andrew Robertson emerged as the answer to Liverpool's problems at left-back last season and will now get the chance to complete a full campaign in red. A few miles down the road, Everton have signed Lucas Digne from Barcelona—a player who rarely looked out of place at Barcelona when he got a chance to play.
One to keep an eye is on Bernardo. That Brighton managed to sign him for less than £10 million may solely be down to his injury record, but if he stays fit he'll emerge as one of the most impressive in this position across the league.
Selecting the top three in this category was easy; Virgil van Dijk, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are leagues ahead of everyone else. From there, though, it gets tricky, as the next 10 or so names are pretty tough to split.
If Eric Bailly can show the sort of form he began last season with, he'll be surging up the rankings in no time. There's no other Manchester United centre-back in our top 20, perhaps outlining why Jose Mourinho is pursuing one so aggressively in the transfer window.
New Arsenal signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos made a lot of errors for Borussia Dortmund last season and has some convincing to do in 2018-19. The same, perhaps, can be said for his prospective partner, Shkodran Mustafi.
|1||Virgil van Dijk||Liverpool|
|2||Toby Alderweireld||Tottenham Hotspur|
|3||Jan Vertonghen||Tottenham Hotspur|
|4||John Stones||Manchester City|
|5||Nicolas Otamendi||Manchester City|
|6||Aymeric Laporte||Manchester City|
|7||Vincent Kompany||Manchester City|
|8||Eric Bailly||Manchester United|
|9||Davinson Sanchez||Tottenham Hotspur|
|10||Harry Maguire||Leicester City|
|17||Jamaal Lascelles||Newcastle United|
|18||Lewis Dunk||Brighton & Hove Albion|
|20||Jonny Evans||Leicester City|
Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders
Without a doubt the hardest section is this one, as it compares player profiles that are completely different in some scenarios. At the very top, Kevin De Bruyne and N'Golo Kante's roles are near-opposite at times, so it's tough to definitively label one better than the other.
With that in mind, consider the top three a class of its own and order it how you like, then move down into a similarly jumbled run starting from Fernandinho and ending with Ander Herrera. Each and every one of them have their different strengths and weaknesses.
This position probably boasts the most strength in depth this year, as evidenced by the list of players who didn't make the cut; it includes Mario Lemina, Aaron Mooy, Joao Moutinho, Adrien Silva, Victor Wanyama and many more.
|1||Kevin De Bruyne ||Manchester City|
|3||David Silva||Manchester City|
|5||Paul Pogba||Manchester United|
|9||Mousa Dembele||Tottenham Hotspur|
|10||Nemanja Matic||Manchester United|
|11||Ilkay Gundogan||Manchester City|
|14||Ander Herrera||Manchester United|
|17||Jean Michael Seri||Fulham|
|18||Wilfred Ndidi||Leicester City|
Can Mohamed Salah pull another incredible season out of the bag? In Jurgen Klopp's system, he'll get a truckload more chances, so there may be nothing anyone can do to stop him if he finds his groove early.
Leroy Sane's rapid progression sees him ranked above names such as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Riyad Mahrez, but if you put reputations aside and focus squarely on the football, it's deserved.
It's impossible to predict what kind of output Anthony Martial (if he's even in the Premier League by Friday) and Marcus Rashford will manage given their questionable roles in Jose Mourinho's team.
|3||Christian Eriksen||Tottenham Hotspur|
|5||Leroy Sane||Manchester City|
|6||Alexis Sanchez||Manchester United|
|8||Raheem Sterling||Manchester City|
|9||Bernardo Silva||Manchester City|
|10||Riyad Mahrez||Manchester City|
|11||Heung-Min Son||Tottenham Hotspur|
|12||Anthony Martial||Manchester United|
|13||Dele Alli||Tottenham Hotspur|
|15||Marcus Rashford||Manchester United|
|16||Wilfried Zaha||Crystal Palace|
|18||Jesse Lingard||Manchester United|
|20||Felipe Anderson||West Ham United|
Probably the second-trickiest category overall, ordering the strikers gave us multiple headaches. Again, it's a comparison of some very different players, with Jamie Vardy almost the antithesis of Gabriel Jesus, with the same going for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in comparison to Roberto Firmino.
Harry Kane at No. 1 was easy, but then the tough questions began. Firmino's all-round contribution is stronger than any striker's and he doesn't lack for goals, so he claimed second ahead of elite poacher Sergio Aguero.
If Chelsea put a bit of faith in Alvaro Morata, he could score hatfuls under Maurizio Sarri, while Marko Arnautovic looks set to continue as a striker if pre-season is anything to go by. He scoops 10th.
|1||Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur|
|2||Roberto Firmino ||Liverpool|
|3||Sergio Aguero ||Manchester City|
|4||Romelu Lukaku||Manchester United|
|6||Gabriel Jesus||Manchester City|
|7||Jamie Vardy||Leicester City|
|8||Alexandre Lacazette ||Arsenal|
|10||Marko Arnautovic||West Ham United|
All statistics via WhoScored.com.