October has come and gone, but some performances from a number of the world's top players will stay fresh in the memory as we take a look at the best players over the past month.
Here we look at the best available XI in a 4-4-2 formation comprised of players from across Europe's top 5 leagues starting from the back, where Stephane Ruffier helped Saint Etienne climb to fifth in October.
The Frenchman played all 3 of his side's league games in an unbeaten month for Les Verts, conceding just once in the process. His most recent heroics came in a 2-0 win over Rennes, making 7 saves in a man of the match, 8.8-rated performance.
In a back four consisting of Zaragoza right-back Cristian Sapunaru and Manchester United's Patrice Evra, it is Inter's Andrea Ranocchia, lining up alongside compatriot Giorgio Chiellini, who deserves an honourable mention here.
The Italian centre-back made 13 interceptions in 4 appearances last month, as well as ranking joint sixth in all of Europe's top 5 leagues for clearances (44) and aerial duels won (19). It seems that the 24-year old is thriving playing in a new back three system under Andrea Stramaccioni, as he is the top defender across Europe according to a WhoScored rating of 8.06.
Moving into central midfield, a superb consistency of performance sees Ranocchia's teammate Esteban Cambiasso make our XI, with his displays aiding the new defensive solidity in the aforementioned switch to three at the back. There has also been a real return to form from Cesc Fabregas, who has not only found his touch again in front of goal but also assisted 5 more in his last 2 league appearances.
Out wide, although Cristiano Ronaldo has been back to his magnificent best of late, netting in each of his 3 league games in October (5 goals in total), it is our Young Player of the Month who gets our attention on the opposite flank.
Young Player of the Month - Erik Lamela (Roma) - 8.6
While returning coach Zdenek Zeman has had plenty of critics for his overly attacking approach at Roma this season, one man who has benefitted and then some seems to be 20-year old Argentine Erik Lamela. Playing in an advanced position on the right, the youngster made his way into the Serie A Team of the Week for all four gameweek's in Italy's elite division for the month of October, and it isn't hard to see why.
Netting in each of said four gameweek's, and notching 5 goals in total last month, Lamela's WhoScored ratings have been of a phenomenally high standard, with 2 man of the match displays in that time.
Only two players in Europe's top 5 leagues completed more dribbles than the Argentina international's 16 during October, while only three mustered more shots at goal (19). With 11 key passes also to his name - also ranking him in Europe's top 10 for the month - he is unlucky not to have picked up an assist, though he does scoop our coveted gong here, so maybe that makes up for it.
Up front, the continuation of a predictably fantastic start to the Manchester United career of Robin van Persie sees the Dutchman take his place in our side. Two goals and an assist in 3 league appearances may seem unspectacular, though a tally of 9 shots and 7 key passes have perhaps warranted more and not gone unnoticed by our statistical rating system. His figures, however, fall way short of our Player of the Month for October, and there’s no prize for guessing our winner after another remarkable 31 days in the footballing career of one of the greatest in history.
Player of the Month - Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 9.4
The fact that a tally of 7 goals in 3 league games last month has almost escaped the attention of the footballing world is testament to the ludicrous standards to which Lionel Messi continuously performs. His goals came from just 16 shots in October, and a conversion rate of 44% ensures that the little man from Argentina remains untouchable as the world’s best player right now.
The talisman of the best club team has, however, played a lesser part in chance creation than we have become accustomed to, with just 3 key passes. Nevertheless, a brace against fierce rivals Real and a crucial hat-trick next time out in the league will be contribution enough to the cause, and his display in what was an outrageous game against Deportivo La Coruna sees Messi grab another accolade here.
Performance of the Month - Lionel Messi (vs Deportivo La Coruna) - 10
When the Argentine bags a hatful of goals in a game it's fair to say that Barca have usually romped to victory, but that was not the case when the Catalans made the trip to Deportivo. Messi assisted a second for Barca before firing a third in from range to leave Vilanova's side seemingly coasting within 20 minutes. The hosts, however, had other ideas, pulling it back to 3-2 before Messi restored a 2-goal advantage for the visitors before half time.
The home side hit back immediately after the break, but Messi wasn't done either, again giving Barca a 2-goal margin which was eventually enough to see off their resilient hosts, despite an own goal from Jordi Alba late on making the score 4-5. Messi ended the match having netted a hat-trick from 5 shots (4 on target), picked up an assist from 2 key passes, completed 3 dribbles and 88% of 57 passes. Not bad, even by the special man's standards.