The year end is almost upon us, it’s been another grueling footballing year for all players, staff and fans involved with the game. It’s been another up and down year in terms of wins and losses for all teams alike, a year that saw a lot of surprises, some enticing encounters and last but not the least some wonderful footballing stories. Today we pick the team of the year for 2016, a team consisting of players who I feel had the best calendar year on the basis of their performances and the impact that these players had on their respective sides, here we consider the time frame from the second half of 2015/16 and the first half of the current season including the International competitive fixtures that took place in 2016. As mentioned, there were some outstanding performers in the year and it was difficult picking but a decision has been made and here are my choices for the eleven players forming the team of the year :
David de Gea:
Arguably the best goalkeeper there is in the game. Ticks pretty much all the boxes one can ask for from a top-level goal keeper. Keeping into account the current levels of flamboyancy a goal keeper requires, De Gea fulfills almost all levels, decent with his feet, brilliant shot stopper, good in the air, excellent reflexes and more importantly good with set pieces. De Gea has been vital for Manchester United the entire year, so much so that on occasions has single handedly helped Manchester United stay alive in crunch situations. With thirty seven saves and six clean sheets so far it can very clearly be stated that De Gea hasn’t exactly been helped by the Manchester United’s defensive changes this season but
his influence in goal remains crucial for a United side looking to make it big in the Premier League this season and for certain De Gea will need to be on song for that to happen. For now his saves and his consistency have helped get in this team of the year.
If there is ever a list made of football players to have turned around their career along with their image and aura, then Pepe is the name you are most likely to find somewhere near the top of that list. Perhaps the most reliable Real Madrid center back through the course
of the year, once a wild hot headed defender Pepe has been successfully able to turn around this image of his after Mourinho’s departure from Madrid. Pepe’s presence was invaluable for the solid Portuguese as they won their first ever major International title. Portuguese star and captain himself claimed that Pepe was the best player of the tournament, the statement showed how much the Portuguese relished Pepe’s presence on the pitch. He’s been apt and solid every time he’s been asked to do a job for his sides. That impact and solidity means that Pepe forms a part of this team of the year.
Safe to say Leonardo Bonucci is one of the five best defenders in the World currently, his presence in the Juventus and the Italian national side is alone sufficient to make opposition attackers think twice before making a move. A center back of the old mould, Bonucci has been an ever present in the Juventus and the Italian set up for many years now and this year was no different. Good with the ball, good understanding of the game, Bonucci showed just how important he was for his sides in Italy’s impressive defensive display in this year’s Euros. Bonucci comes across defender who seems to be knowing his areas of impairment well and positions himself well in advance to avoid such situations. All about grit and dedication, Bonucci’s impressive year means that he makes it into my team of the year for 2016.
Man for all seasons” as some call him, Cesar Azpilicueta has in all literal sense been the
man for all seasons at Chelsea this year. A right footed player, has pretty much aced the left back position for the blues over the past year. Remained the only constant in a disappointing Chelsea side in the first half of the year and has shown the same form under new manager Antonio Conte. Not only has he made himself an integral part of Chelsea’s back three under Conte but has continuously racked up brilliant displays one after the other. The defence has been one of the key reasons for Chelsea’s march to the top of the league this season and Azpilicueta has been a vital cog of that defence.
What a year it’s been for the midfielder from France. First winning the Premier League title with Leicester, getting into the French squad for the Euros (almost winning it) and now a great first half season with Chelsea. N’golo Kante’s near perfect year has been
possible because of the work ethic and the sheer effort that has been put in by him for all his sides. Breaking up the opposition play, moving it quickly upfront, slotting into the backline at times when demanded, Kante’s been the defensive wall ahead of the main backline. Like Azpilicueta, Kante too has been a vital defensive cog that’s made the back three system look pretty much flawless. An unforgettable year for the Frenchman means that he comfortably slots in our midfield.
Luka Modric & Toni Kroos:
Arguably the two best passers of the game currently. The passing duo form Real Madrid had great years with both club and country , winning three impressive titles with Real Madrid in what was a major year for the club as a whole these two by far had the biggest impact on crunch games. Their impact on the blancos had been visible in the past when either of the two had been missing in the previous years. Their improved fitness meant that the Madrid had fluidity in their midfield ranks and there was good supply through to the front three. Crucial in the national sides run in the Euros, both Kroos and Modric were a delight to watch and on the whole had fantastic years. The two would very easily fit into any World sides at the moment.
Kevin de Bruyne:
One of the most talented midfielders on the planet currently, Kevin de Bruyne has proved time and again of his importance to Manchester City since his arrival in 2015 form Wolfsburg. City’s managerial and playing style changes have had no effect on de Bruyne’s
performances in that time. Crucial to both Pellegrini and Guardiola’s plans at City, De Bruyne has gone from strength to strength over the course of the year, from scoring important goals to dominating teams such as Manchester United and Barcelona, De Bruyne has been one of the best players in the Premier League for the year. The record of De Bruyne starting and City winning shows how important the Belgian is to the sky blues’ cause and why without him they aren’t the same. De Bruyne’s impressive year means he makes it to my team of the year 2016.
Another wonderful year for one of football’s finest, Antoine Griezmann was on top of his powers in the year gone by, scoring in bulk for Atletico Madrid, top goal scorer at the Euros in France, reaching two important finals, doing pretty much everything one can ask for
except winning those two finals. Griezmann could have changed the outcome had he scored from the spot in the Champions League final but that wasn’t to be as the miss proved to be crucial in the final outcome. However despite those below par performances one cannot deny Antoine’s contribution to his team’s cause in reaching those two finals, after all it were his impressive knockout round performances that had led to his sides reaching the finals in the first place. Griezmann finished second in the UEFA best layer awards with only Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him, all in all a great year for the French man. Given the time he has in front of himself one can only imagine him growing from strength to strength.
It’s been a good eight-nine years since this particular gentle-man was missing from someone’s team of year plans and as things stand he looks good to continue for another three-four years easy. Top scorer of the year with fifty nine goals, Messi has once again
been the same influence that he’s been over last eight-nine years, winning La Liga along with a Copa del Rey meant that Messi was never too far off from the best player award but a disappointing Copa America Centenario final performance meant that Messi could only finish second in this year’s Ballon d’or, once again losing out to a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. Impactful performances in the second half of the season have once again established his importance to this star studded Barcelona side and that he is still very much at the top of his game contrary to some thoughts that originated in the middle off the year. Another great year for Messi which makes him a certain inclusion in this team of the year for 2016.
The final man in our team of the year is none other than the all conquering Cristiano Ronaldo. Winning the Undecima with the Madrid side and later captaining Portugal to
their first ever major International trophy and then earlier in the year came the much awaited Ballon d’or trophy, the fourth of his career and a well deserved one. Already deemed as his greatest year in football, Cristiano has once again very clearly proved that at thirty one he still can be a very lethal forward, although in a slightly different role. Scoring fifty five in all competitions this year Cristiano has dominated crucial games and displayed his dominance when needed the most. Having gone down in terms of pace and dribbling ability, Ronaldo has been applying his trade in a more central role this season showing certain changes he’s made to his game this season, the changes mean that Ronaldo is now pretty much a new player but the desire and the competitiveness have remained the same.