Messi, Salah & the European Team of the Season

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Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah both feature as Goal picks out the best 11 performers in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues in 2017-18

  1. GK: Jan Oblak

    The latest in a long line of great goalkeepers at Atletico Madrid, Jan Oblak is a pivotal part of the miserly Rojiblancos defence which has conceded just 20 goals in La Liga this season.

    The Slovenian shot-stopper is considered by many to be the best goalkeeper in the world right now and has kept an amazing 22 clean sheets in the Primera Division in 2017-18 – four more than any other keep across Europe's 'Big Five' leagues.

  2. RB: Joshua Kimmich

    Bayern Munich worried that it might be difficult to find someone to fill Philipp Lahm's shoes when the legendary full-back retired last summer, but in Joshua Kimmich, they have found a ready-made replacement.

    The 23-year-old has been outstanding for Bayern. As well as netting in both legs of the Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid, he has also created 10 goals in the Bundesliga, which puts him fourth in the assists standings.

  3. CB: Milan Skriniar

    One of the signings of the Serie A season, Inter's Milan Skriniar is now regarded as one of the best young defenders in world football after a stellar debut campaign at San Siro. 

    Indeed, the €20 million summer signing from Sampdoria was being linked with a €65m move to Manchester City by the winter break due to his sensational form and the Nerazzurri undoubtedly face a fight to hold on to a centre-half who does everything well.

    He ranks joint-second among Serie A defenders in terms of tackles won, fifth for duels won, sixth for clearances and eighth for blocks, as well as third in terms of successful passes. Oh, and he's also scored four goals for good measure!

  4. CB: Diego Godin

    Atletico Madrid's central defensive rock, Diego Godin is arguably the world's best defender.

    The Uruguay international may now be 32 but he remains as inspirational as ever, racking up 30 appearances for the toughest and meanest backline in the game today.

  5. LB: Jordi Alba

    Jordi Alba has been revitalised this season under Ernesto Valverde.

    The Barcelona left-back did not end on great terms with previous coach Luis Enrique, but is back to his best in the current campaign, a big feature of Barca's success in defence and attack, where he has struck up an excellent understanding with Lionel Messi.

    Alba has scored two goals in La Liga in 2017-18, including an important equaliser at Valencia, and has a personal-best eight assists.

  6. CM: Toni Kroos

    This has been an up-and-down season in La Liga for Real Madrid, but one of the players who has maintained a consistent level almost throughout is Toni Kroos.

    The classy Germany midfielder has five goals and seven assists in 26 appearances for Zinedine Zidane's side this term.

  7. CM: Kevin De Bruyne

    Had Kevin De Bruyne been named PFA Player of the Season ahead of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, few would have complained, given the Belgian racked up more assists (16) than any other player in Europe during Manchester City's dominant title-winning campaign.

    Indeed, without De Bruyne's creativity and industry, the Premier League may have had a genuine title race. But the former Chelsea man made life so easy for City.

    As Thierry Henry recently said of De Bruyne, “Average players complicate the game. Great players simplify it."

  8. RW: Mohamed Salah

    PFA Player of the Year. The Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year. Premier League Player of the Year. Premier League record-breaker, with the most goals (32) in a single, 38-game season. Potential Champions League winner. Need we go on?!

    Mohamed Salah's debut season at Liverpool has been simply sensational, with the Egypt international now a very live contender for this year's Ballon d'Or after making €42 million look like a bargain!

  9. AM: Lionel Messi

    Lionel Messi has carried Barcelona at times this season, as underlined by the fact that their only Liga loss, against Levante, came when he wasn't on the pitch.

    Goals home and away against Real Madrid, a fantastic free-kick winner versus Atletico, a late leveller after coming off the bench at Sevilla, plus hat-tricks versus Deportivo and Espanyol and four in a 6-1 win over Eibar, are just some of the standout moments.

    In total, he racked up 34 goals and 12 assists in just 35 appearances in La Liga, proving himself the best creator and scorer of goals in Spain.

  10. LW: Cristiano Ronaldo

    Cristiano Ronaldo got off to a slow start in La Liga, with just four goals in the first half of the season, but the Real Madrid superstar has been in fantastic form since the turn of the year and now has 25 in his 26 appearances in the Primera Division.

    Those include his goal at Barcelona, four in a win over Girona, a hat-trick at home to Real Sociedad and doubles versus Eibar, Getafe, Valencia, Alaves, Deportivo and Sevilla.

    Once again, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated and he could yet end the season with yet another Champions League winners' medal around his neck.

  11. CF: Harry Kane

    Harry Kane may have been beaten to the Premier League's Golden Boot by Salah but the Tottenham ace has once again proven himself one of the most consistent strikers in European competition.

    Indeed, he hit 28 goals for Spurs, meaning he has now racked up more than 20 in each of the past four years.

    As a result, the only doubt now surrounding a player once dismissed as a 'one-season wonder' is whether he should leave Tottenham for one of Europe's elite teams in order to get his hands on some overdue silverware.

  12. European Team of the Season

    So, there you have it - our European Team of the season?

    What do you make of our selections? Are there any glaring omissions? Let us know your chosen XI's in the comment box!