European Team of the Season: Messi & Ronaldo lead way as Liverpool dominate defence

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With all of the 'Big Five' leagues having now wrapped up for another year, Goal picks out the best performers from across the continent

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    Jan Oblak | Atletico Madrid

    Ederson may have helped Manchester City win the Premier League title but Jan Oblak was once again the best goalkeeper in Europe this season.

    Of the shot-stoppers to have played at least 15 games this campaign, none had a better save percentage than the Slovenian (79.39), who kept 20 clean sheets – only Liverpool's Alisson had more – as Atletico finished second in La Liga.

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    Trent Alexander-Arnold | Liverpool

    Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking may have caught Barcelona by surprise in the Champions League but the 20-year-old's deadly delivery hardly came as a shock to those who have been watching him in domestic action all season.

    Indeed, as well as proving a pivotal player in the best back-line in England, the Reds right-back also broke the Premier League assists record for a defender by creating 12 goals for the Merseysiders, who finished second.

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    Virgil van Dijk | Liverpool

    The man who has made £75 million ($95m) look like a bargain!

    After immediately settling into his new surroundings at Liverpool following last year's arrival from Southampton, the Netherlands international has gone from strength to strength this season, transforming the Reds' once brittle defence into the tightest in the Premier League.

    Van Dijk, who has also starred during his side's run to the Champions League final, was the overwhelming choice for PFA Player of the Year and is now widely regarded as the best centre-half on the planet.

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    Gerard Pique | Barcelona

    Age looked to be catching up on Gerard Pique during an error-strewn start to the season but the 32-year-old centre-half was immaculate in La Liga from October on, with his performance in the crucial win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu an undoubted highlight.

    In short, he went from vulnerable to undroppable as Barca stormed to another Liga title and his importance to the Catalans' defensive solidity was best illustrated by the way in which the Blaugrana went to pieces at the back when he was rested for the 4-4 draw with Villarreal at El Madrigal.

     

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    Andy Robertson | Liverpool

    Jordi Alba may still be the best left-back in the world but this season has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Andy Robertson is now the biggest threat to the Spaniard's crown.

    The Scot offered an excellent attacking outlet for Liverpool, racking up a whopping 11 Premier League assists and impressing all and sundry with his aggression and energy down the flank.

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    Bernardo Silva | Manchester City

    Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero may have made more headlines but Bernardo Silva was undoubtedly Manchester City's best player during a sensational, treble-winning season.

    The Portuguese racked up seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League and he personified Pep Guardiola's terrific team with his mix of technical excellence and relentless pressing.

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    Axel Witsel | Borussia Dortmund

    Axel Witsel says joining Borussia Dortmund from Tianjin Quanjian last summer was "the best career decision" he's ever made. It's fair to say the German club are just as happy with the €20m (£18m/$23m) deal.

    Dortmund's title bid may have ultimately gone off the rails but the Belgian was brilliant throughout, proving the perfect midfield lynchpin for Lucien Favre's young side with his commanding, reassuring presence and pin-point passing (93 per cent success rate).

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    Eden Hazard | Chelsea

    Crisis-hit Real Madrid have identified Eden Hazard as the man to restore the club to its former glory and it's easy to understand why.

    During a trying and turbulent season at Stamford Bridge, the Belgium international with the wondrous dribbling skills has still managed to excel.

    No player in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues created more goals than Hazard (15), who also netted 16 himself.

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    Lionel Messi | Barcelona

    It's hard not to feel some sympathy for Kylian Mbappe, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Nicolas Pepe: they've all posted excellent numbers in their respective leagues.

    However, none compare to those of Lionel Messi, the best player in their position and, as this season has once again reminded everyone, the best player in the world.

    As Barcelona retained their Liga title, their captain led by example, scoring 36 goals to seal another European Golden Shoe, while at the same time racking up 13 assists.

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    Sergio Aguero | Manchester City

    Robert Lewandowski warrants mention for being arguably the one Bayern Munich player that never let his standards drop during the Bavarians' topsy-turvy Bundesliga success, Luis Suarez led the line superbly for Liga champions Barcelona, particularly in Messi's absence, while Fabio Quagliarella was the story of the Serie A season.

    However, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is the obvious choice for our central attacking berth.

    The Argentine struck 21 goals for the Premier League winners, helping them over the line with crucial efforts at Burnley and Brighton in the closing weeks. 

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    Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus

    There was plenty of pressure on Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver following his sensational summer switch from Real Madrid to Juventus but the Portuguese superstar didn't disappoint in his first season in Turin.

    As well as starring in the knockout stage of the Champions League, the No.7 also impressed in Serie A, scoring 21 goals and creating a further eight as the Bianconeri romped to the Scudetto, thus earning the 34-year-old the Italian top flight's Player of the Season award.