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James Ro­driguez must have won­dered where his ca­reer was go­ing last sum­mer. He wasn’t ex­actly a poor player at Real Madrid, but he couldn’t force his way into Zine­dine Zi­dane’s start­ing XI. Bayern Mu­nich came to his res­cue, and the Colom­bian has thrived in Ger­many. So much so, that he’s re­gained his place among the best at­tack­ing mid­field­ers in the game. He tops our list of the best at his po­si­tion from Europe’s top-five leagues – who else made the cut?


This sea­son has brought James full cir­cle. He earned a move to Real Madrid af­ter a stun­ning show­ing at the 2014 World Cup. Hav­ing left Madrid on loan last sum­mer, he heads into this year’s World Cup at the top of his game again.


There were so many things to love about Napoli this sea­son, even if their ti­tle bid ul­ti­mately fell short. Insigne’s form was one of them, lead­ing a thrilling at­tack with flair, skill and plenty of drive. It is a real shame Italy are not at the World Cup.


Harry Kane may get all the goals but Son has been one of Spurs’ most ef­fec­tive per­form­ers this sea­son with 12 goals and six as­sists in the league. That Son plays with a vis­i­ble, in­fec­tious joy, much like Mo­hamed Salah, only adds to his aura.


If any­one was wor­ried that Fekir’s se­vere in­jury de­ba­cle would de­rail his progress, they needn’t worry any­more. The French­man has been ab­so­lutely su­perb this term, lead­ing Lyon’s charge for a Cham­pi­ons League spot.


Erik­sen must have felt that Harry Kane and Dele Alli had been hog­ging the head­lines for too long. It’s been a stun­ning sea­son from the Dane, who also scored a hat-trick in a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing play­off to seal Den­mark’s spot in Rus­sia.


It’s strange that Bayern Mu­nich let him go to Ju­ven­tus on loan in the first place. The Brazil­ian is cer­tainly not com­plain­ing – he’s hit top form for the Serie A’s best side with his pace and trick­ery prov­ing a real hand­ful. Bayern may rue his de­par­ture.


Cut free from the pres­sure and ex­pec­ta­tion at Manch­ester United, Mem­phis has thrived in France. He had a run of six games with ei­ther a goal or an as­sist at one point, mak­ing sure Lyon didn’t miss a beat when Fekir was in­jured.


What Insigne did for Napoli this sea­son, for­mer Liver­pool man Al­berto did for Lazio. Ciro Im­mo­bile and Sergej MilinkovicSavic stole the head­lines for the Rome team, but the Spa­niard’s in­ci­sive­ness and vi­sion un­der­pinned their play.


It says it all that a sea­son where he scores twice as many league goals while record­ing nearly the same num­ber of as­sists as the pre­vi­ous year is con­sid­ered a dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign. Granted, Dybala hasn’t hit the heights of last sea­son, but he’s still a ris­ing star.


It’s tempt­ing to wonder how good Ster­ling’s sea­son would have been had he been a bet­ter fin­isher. Would we be talk­ing about him in the same breath as Mo­hamed Salah? Of all the play­ers to have grown un­der Guardi­ola’s tute­lage, he show­cases it best.

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