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Europe’s Finest: Power rankings for Europe’s best players (October 5th)

Bit of an interesting couple of weeks these ones.

F.C. Copenhagen v FC Bayern München: Group A - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

European football never sleeps, and neither does Europe’s Finest, back for another edition! Let’s look at the players that have dominated European football for the last two weeks.

10. Kylian Mbappé (Last week: 3)

Newcastle United FC v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

Kylian Mbappé just barely hangs on to a spot in the power rankings after a podium finish last time around, with a trio of goalless performances.

Functioning as the de facto left winger in Luis Enrique’s front three for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappé has often found himself coming in narrow to become almost a second striker at times. However, he failed to find the net against Olympique Marseille, Clermont Foot and Newcastle United, ultimately landing him here.

9. Xavi Simons (Last week: 2)

RB Leipzig v Manchester City: Group G - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Xavi Simons fell as quickly down the rankings as he rose.

Simons had quiet games against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, failing to really have an impact. He had his moments against Bayern and Gladbach, but ultimately failed to properly affect the game with his magic, and he was almost completely shut down by Manchester City after a stellar tactical performance from the team which saw Manuel Akanji and Kyle Walker working in tandem to shut down the Dutch attacker.

8. Benjamin Pavard (New)

FC Internazionale v Bologna FC - Serie A TIM Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Benjamin Pavard might be the best centre-back in the world right now.

Internazionale haven’t conceded a goal since the 20th of September, and their defensive resilience has been down to Pavard’s individual brilliance a lot of the time. The Frenchman has made himself the lynchpin of Inter’s defense with last-ditch tackles, smart positioning and overall physicality, as well as becoming the key to Inter’s build-up in the defensive third with his passing range. Three games, three full 90s, three clean sheets. ‘Nuff said.

7. Erling Haaland (Last week: 6)

RB Leipzig v Manchester City: Group G - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Luciano Lima/Getty Images

Another player seemingly hurtling down the rankings, Erling Haaland finds himself in a spot of bother after a set of lacklustre performances.

The big Norwegian did get a goal against Nottingham Forest and was good at linking up play against RB Leipzig, but he was ultimately not up to his own standards in terms of goalscoring and general involvement in play, the game against Wolves being a particular low point. Another showing like this will surely result in a disappearance from the top ten altogether.

6. James Maddison (Last week: 7)

Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

James Maddison is one of the best players in the world, full stop.

The Englishman put on a set of incredible performances, utilising the spaces between Liverpool’s defensive structures extremely well but ultimately failing to get on the scoresheet. Maddison would do the same against Luton, and bag himself an assist although he would then almost immediately have to reserve himself to a deeper role after the sending off of Yves Bissouma.

5. Kieran Trippier (New)

Newcastle United FC v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Is Kieran Trippier the best full back in the world?

He’s certainly put himself up there, as the Englishman has been simply fantastic for Newcastle defensively, making the right side of Newcastle’s defense simply impenetrable at times. On top of this, Trippier is an offensive threat, especially from set pieces, and this threat has made itself evident as in the three games he played in the last two weeks, he racked up five assists, an unbelievable return for a right back.

4. Álejandro Grimaldo (New)

1. FSV Mainz 05 v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The answer to the Trippier question is a resounding no... because Álejandro Grimaldo is the best full back in the world.

Another player who prides himself on his set pieces, Grimaldo got a goal against FSV Mainz to put the game to bed, a goal which was a gorgeously taken free kick. Grimaldo has put himself at the centre of a lot of Xabi Alonso’s play, being perhaps the most press resistant player in the whole Bundesliga with his ability to wriggle out of tight situations. He has become Xabi’s ace in the hole tactically, as the team simply cannot progress the ball without Grimaldo having a say using his dribbling ability and smart eye for a progressive pass. He may not be as well rounded as Trippier defensively, but he’s still got the tenacity to win the ball and throw himself into 1-vs-1s for the team. An elite full back.

3. Antoine Griezmann (New)

Atletico Madrid v Feyenoord - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann has bloomed into one of the best footballers on the planet, in the role he was born to play in.

Griezmann has become more of a midfielder or second striker in recent years, joining the striker in the press but dropping deep into midfield to link the attack and midfield. The Frenchman’s ability to create chances from wide and deep spaces with his positioning and roaming into unconventional areas is unbelievable, as he simply sees a different kind of game to everyone else. This combined with Griezmann’s ability to fashion chances even for himself and get on the end of chances created by others with late runs has resulted in three goals in his last four games, and these goals have just been the cherry on top. If his teammates could get their shooting boots on, Griezmann could be having a season putting him in contention for the Ballon d’Or.

2. Jude Bellingham (Last week: 4)

Real Madrid CF v CA Osasuna - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Jude Bellingham has somehow become the best poacher in world football.

Bellingham was still elite in Real Madrid’s 3-1 loss in the Madrid derby, followed by a set of man of the match performances against Girona and Napoli, in which he bagged two goals and two assists across both games. It was a beyond stellar trio of performances that saw him almost eclipse the reigning king of Europe’s Finest, but the power rankings topper put on a set of fantastic performances too which was enough to stave Jude off... for now.

1. Leroy Sané (Reign: 14 days)

FC Copenhagen v Bayern Munchen - UEFA Champions League Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Leroy Sané is still the best player in the world, and is playing to such a high standard that even the slightest drop in performance was met with disappointment and self-criticism from him.

I’m beginning to run out of superlatives for Sané’s attacking prowess. There is only so many times one can re-iterate on his mazy dribbling, elite first touch, tireless running and visionary through passes. The German international bagged himself a goal against VfL Bochum and the crucial late equaliser against title rivals RB Leipzig, and while he was the most productive and sharp of Bayern Munich’s attackers against FC Copenhagen, he failed to get a goal or assist and this led to him almost being knocked off his throne — it takes a very high calibre of performance to stay on top of the power rankings. Sané himself was not happy with this performance, and that’s the kind of mentality that champions require: where even winning and playing well individually is not enough.

What do you think of the rankings this time around? Is there anyone you would’ve included? Will Leroy Sané be dethroned next week? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion below.

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