Premier League

European Team of the Season so far, starring Haaland and Valverde

Carlo Garganese
Erling Haaland, Man City, Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund, 2022/23

The World Cup is over and we have now entered the new year.

That means that all attention is back on club football as Europe’s biggest leagues resume.

As a recap of the club season so far, we select our best XI of the 2022-23 campaign so far from around Europe.

READ: Premier League 2022/23 January transfers: All the Done Deals

We have chosen a 4-3-3 formation.

Nick Pope (Newcastle)

The signing of Nick Pope from relegated Burnley looked like a masterstroke at the time, and it’s proven to be just that at the start of this campaign.

The Englishman has kept 10 clean sheets since moving to St James’ Park and has helped the Magpies concede just 11 goals all season, both of which are the lowest in the Premier League.

Pope’s form has been pivotal in Newcastle’s rise into the top four as they challenge for a Champions League spot.

Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)

Statistically the best right-back in the Bundesliga per Football Transfers’ official partner SciSports, Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong is top for dribbling, finishing and offensive positioning so far this season. Boasts two braces – against Mainz and Schalke – and was unlucky to find himself behind Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries for the Netherlands at the World Cup.

William Saliba (Arsenal)

William Saliba was unlucky not to feature more than his 27 minute cameo against Tunisia at the World Cup following a brilliant start to life in the English top flight.

Although he was signed back in 2020, two loan spells followed and his return has felt like a new signing to the Gunners. His speed and athleticism has allowed Mikel Arteta to deploy a fairly high line, and his ability on the ball has enabled the team to play out when being pressed with supreme ease.

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From the first game against Crystal Palace onwards, Saliba has been unbelievable, and he has been a key reason why they are top of the Premier League.

Kim Min-Jae (Napoli)

Napoli fans feared the worst when their star defender Kalidou Koulibaly was sold to Chelsea this past summer, having been the best centre back in Serie A for much of his eight years at the club.

But South Korea star Kim has been an absolute revelation since arriving from Fenerbahce, and Napoli haven’t missed Koulibaly at all.

Kim Min-Jae, Napoli

Kim Min-Jae, Napoli

A beast in the air, he has the most aerial challenges in Serie A, the third most interceptions and the fourth most ball recoveries. He has also scored two goals and has been the best defender in the league so far.

Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Equally happy playing centre-back as left-back, Ramy Bensebaini has been used in the latter position more often than not by Borussia Monchengladbach this season, from where he has hit five goals – a league joint-best among defenders alongside Frimpong. Perhaps unusually for the big Algerian, only one of his strikes has been a penalty. His performances have seen him linked with a summer move to Borussia Dortmund.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli)

Anguissa was tipped for big things earlier in his career, but it is at Napoli that he has exploded into one of the most feared midfielders in Europe.

Under manager Luciano Spalletti, the Cameroonian has developed into the complete midfielder. Physically he is a monster, but he has improved so much technically and offensively.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Napoli

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Napoli

This season, Anguissa is now adding goals to his game and he has three goals and seven assists to his name.

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Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)

Alongside Anguissa is a player who had a breakout 2022 at the tender age of 19. He has led Dortmund out in the Champions League already and continues to play like a captain for club and country.

Has also added more goals to his game this season with nine in all competitions, and now the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City are queuing up to sign the Englishman. Enjoyed a brilliant World Cup too.

Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)

Another player who has truly broken out over the last year is Real Madrid midfielder Valverde. Until recently, the Uruguayan had been criminally underrated but that is no longer the case after a brilliant first half to the Spanish season.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti asked him to add goals to his game and he certainly has done that. Valverde already has nine goals this season, as well as four assists. He really can do everything and very few players can strike a ball as well as he can.

Lionel Messi (PSG)

Messi endured a difficult first season in Paris last season, scoring just four Ligue 1 goals all campaign and performing poorly as PSG were dumped out of the Champions League in the last 16.

Messi lifts the World Cup for Argentina

Messi lifts the World Cup for Argentina

However, he has been back to his world-class best this campaign, scoring 12 goals and delivering 14 assists in 19 games in all competitions. He also led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last month, scoring seven goals and providing three assists. This resulted in the 35-year-old winning the World Cup Golden Ball.

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Erling Haaland (Man City)

The most inevitable man in football. Erling Haaland has arrived in Manchester and taken the Premier League by storm. Andy Cole currently holds the record of most goals scored in a single campaign with 34, but that came when there were 42 games played per season.

Erling Haaland is the Premier League top scorer this season

Erling Haaland is the Premier League top scorer this season

However, the Norwegian has that record firmly in his sights and having scored 21 goals in 15 games, needs 14 more to go into the outright lead. At the rate he’s going at, that should be no problem.

The 4-0 win over Bournemouth and defeats to Liverpool and Brentford are the only three league games in which Haaland hasn’t registered a goal this campaign, while he netted back-to-back hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest in late August.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

Victor Osimhen may have been the best striker in Serie A this season, but Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been undoubtedly the best player overall in the league. The Georgian winger has been unplayable ever since arriving from Dinamo Batumi this past summer for just €10 million.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Napoli

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Napoli

A dribbling machine, Kvaratskhelia dominates almost every attacking category in Serie A. He has the most dribbles, most chances created, most key passes, most man-of-the-match displays.

His eight goals and eight assists have been key to taking Napoli to the top of Serie A and through to the last-16 of the Champions League. A potential Ballon d’Or contender in the future.

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