Best XI featuring signings of this season

Willem II go fourth in Eredivisie with win at Heerenveen

Now that we are more than halfway across the 2018/19 season, there is enough data to judge the best summer signings from Europe’s top 5 leagues. Take a look at the best XI featuring players who were signed this season.

Goalkeeper – Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

Liverpool currently have the best defensive record in the Premier League and a key reason behind this drastic improvement is their summer signing Alisson Becker.

The Reds fans were crying out for a top-class goalkeeper since Pepe Reina left in 2013 and the fans finally got their wish last summer when the Brazilian number one arrived for a then world record £66.8 million.

Alisson has kept thirteen clean sheets in his first 25 Premier League games and has adjusted to the demands of the league very quickly.

Fullbacks – Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City) and Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund)

The most difficult decision had to be made in the fullbacks department as Joao Cancelo of Juventus and Lucas Digne of Everton have proved to be exceptional buys but they have been denied a place in this XI by Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira and Borussia Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi.

Pereira cost Leicester €25 million in the summer but he has arguably been the best right-back in England this season. The Foxes man has played out wide on the right wing in a few games but he has predominantly played as a right-back and proved to be a menace with his dribbling and well-timed forward runs. He has scored two goals and assisted three more this season in the league alone for Leicester. 

The left-back in this XI is the on-loan Real Madrid player Achraf Hakimi. Hakimi joined the Bundesliga club on a two-year loan and started the season on the bench with the veterans Łukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer preferred. However, he has worked his way into the starting XI and has predominantly played down the left side.

The Moroccan who was named the CAF Youth Player of the Year in 2018 has three goals and seven assists to his name in all competitions this season.

Centre-backs – Issa Diop (West Ham) and Francesco Acerbi (Lazio)

West Ham made a plethora of signings last summer and Łukasz Fabiański and Felipe Anderson have hogged most of the limelight with scintillating saves and spectacular goals, respectively. Amidst all this, the 22-year-old Issa Diop has helped shore of the Hammers defence even though his centreback partners have constantly changed.

He has started and played 28 games for his new side this season already and only Anderson has started more games for the London club this season than the French defender.

The other centre-back in this XI, Francesco Acerbi, once had a failed stint with Milan which lasted only for half a season. Now, he’s a crucial member of the Lazio side that’s fighting for a Champions League spot with Milan.

The Italian who overcame testicular cancer while he was at Sassuolo joined Lazio in the summer as a replacement for Stefan De Vrij.

Acerbi has started all but one of Lazio’s games this season in all competition and the only game he missed was due to suspension. In addition to helping Lazio maintain a decent defensive record, the 30-year-old has also scored three important goals.

Midfielders – Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) and Arthur Melo (Barcelona)

Borussia Dortmund’s forwards like Marco Reus, Paco Alcacer and Jadon Sancho have hogged most of the limelight as they push for the Bundesliga title. However, a key reason behind the good season they are enjoying is Axel Witsel.

Witsel returned to Europe in the summer after playing in China and has been orchestrating the play for his new side this season. In the league, he has a 93.2 pass completion rate and wins 1.7 aerial duels per game. In Champions League, he has bettered those numbers with a 94.5 pass completion rate and 1.8 aerial duels won per game.

His ability to spot a threatening forward run and play a neat forward pass has helped Dortmund’s quick forwards.

Arsenal fans have often criticized Arsene Wenger for not signing a defensive midfielder and in the first summer after his departure, the club addressed a key area of concern by signing Lucas Torreira.

The Uruguayan’s tenacious displays in midfield have seen him being labelled as the best signing in the Premier League this season. 

Every 90 minutes in the Premier League, the diminutive midfielder averages 2.7 tackles won, 1.6 interceptions and 1.3 clearances. His positional sense and ability to break up play has been a huge help for the miserable Arsenal defence.

It’s not easy to replace a midfielder of Xavi’s quality but Barcelona may have finally found his heir in Arthur Melo.

The Brazilian isn’t a goal scoring midfielder nor does he possess a good assists tally but his ability to retain possession in tight space, bring the ball forward from midfield and the skill to draw defenders out of position and create space is exceptional.

Most impressively, the 22-year-old has a pass percentage of 94.5 in the La Liga so far this season. Melo is expected to miss a few weeks through injury and this will be a huge blow for the Catalan club with two Clasicos coming up. 

Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Felipe Anderson (West Ham) and Krzysztof Piątek (AC Milan)

It’s hard to fathom that Cristiano Ronaldo is 34-years-old now. The Portuguese international has continued his impressive goal scoring record in the Serie A after moving to Juventus last summer.

Ronaldo is currently the top-scorer in the Italian top-flight this season with 17 goals and in addition, he also has six assists to his name which is only two fewer than the highest assists tally in the league. 

Ronaldo is joined in this XI by another Serie A superstar, Krzysztof Piątek. Piatek moved to Genoa last summer and scored 19 goals in 21 games for the club before moving to Milan in January.

The Pole already has three goals in as many games for Milan including a brace against Napoli in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.

Completing this XI is Felipe Anderson who is the second West Ham player to make the list and also yet another player associated with the Serie A.

Anderson took a few games to adapt to the Premier League but he has been a major factor behind West Ham’s improved form in recent months. The Brazilian hasn’t let the Hammers miss Marko Arnautović who has been in and out of the side due to injury.

The former Lazio man has scored eight goals and assisted three more goals for his side so far this season in the Premier League. His impressive form has earned him five ‘man of the match’ awards already in his debut season in the Premier League.