After the 2017-18 Premier League season came to an end on Sunday, AFP Sports presents its Team of the Year, playing in a 4-3-3 formation:
David De Gea (Manchester United)
The 27-year-old remains arguably the world’s top stopper and, with reported interest from Real Madrid, United boss Jose Mourinho has made it clear there is “no chance” he will allow the Spaniard to be sold this summer after another rock-solid season.
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
The England right-back forced his way out of Tottenham last year because he felt City offered a better chance of winning silverware.
The move paid rich dividends as Walker celebrated Premier League and League Cup triumphs while his old club finished empty-handed.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Marshalled by the Belgium centre-back, Tottenham boasted one of the Premier League’s most imposing defences, prompting boss Mauricio Pochettino to declare: “He is one of the best in Europe.
He looks like a 20-year-old because it is easy for him to run, he’s like my new dog!”
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he does not expect to see the best of Van Dijk until next season.
That should be a daunting prospect for opposing strikers after the Dutch centre-back’s superb form following a £75 million ($102 million) move from Southampton in January that made him the world’s most expensive defender.
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Operating mainly at left-back, Young has emerged as an integral figure in United’s defence after successfully making the transition from his previous role on the wing.
“For the last couple of seasons, there were lots of doubts. He is now an important member of our squad,” Mourinho said.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Although he was pipped to the PFA player of the year award by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, De Bruyne finished the season widely rated as the driving force behind City’s title success.
“Maybe in numbers there are guys better than him, but no there is no better player in this season. For me he was the best,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
“Now you know why I call him ‘Golazo’,” grinned Pochettino as he saluted Eriksen’s sublime contribution to a 3-1 victory that secured Tottenham’s first success at Chelsea for 28 years.
Eriksen is Tottenham’s chief creator but, as he showed against Chelsea, he can also conjure superb goals. “You can see he is so important for us. Eriksen makes the team play,” Pochettino added.
David Silva (Manchester City)
While other City stars may have hogged the spotlight, Silva is the quiet catalyst for their success.
The diminutive Spaniard’s metronomic passing makes the champions tick and, recognising a tenacious spirit that belies his diminutive stature, Guardiola hailed him as “a huge competitor”.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The Egypt ace enjoyed an incredible debut season with Liverpool as he rewrote the record books with a goal blitz that makes his £34 million price tag look like the bargain of the century.
Salah’s arrival from Roma was greeted with ambivalence after a lacklustre spell with Chelsea, but just nine months later his astonishing 44-goal haul, featuring a record 32 in the league, has catapulted the 25-year-old to superstar status.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
For all the jokes about Kane’s successful appeal to have a goal credited to him instead of Eriksen recently, it is that ruthless nature that makes the England international “the world’s best striker” according to Pochettino.
Kane was at his deadly best throughout another impressive campaign that saw him break Alan Shearer’s Premier League record by reaching 39 goals in a calendar year.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Aguero, already idolised for his famous title-winning goal in 2012, was enshrined forever as a City legend after becoming the club’s record goalscorer this season.
And the Argentine insists Guardiola deserves the credit for his prolific form. “Being able to adapt to Pep’s playing style has a large contributing factor in my form this season,” he said.