Ronaldo misses out on #7 in best 1-11 shirt number lineup
Teamsheet announcements over tannoys at football matches aren't what they used to be. Gone are the days when players are reeled off from 1 to 11 in terms of their squad numbers. In fact, your lucky to get past the third player in a starting lineup before reaching some ridiculously obscure numbers, and for many clubs it no longer even starts at one anymore.
So, for those of you that wince at the thought of Wolves keeper Rui Patricio wearing the number 11 shirt, or Trent Alexander-Arnold donning 66, we've built a 'best XI' you may well appreciate. Indeed, it's a best XI in the truest possible sense, with only the highest rated players who occupy shirt numbers one to eleven making the cut.
#1 Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus) - 7.14
The man who restricts club legend Gianluigi Buffon to the ludicrous number 88 shirt, Szczesny has been first choice at Juventus this season for very good reason. The Poland international has conceded just 17 goals in 19 Serie A appearances, keeping eight clean sheets and boasting the fourth best save success rate in Europe's top five leagues (77.9 per cent).
#2 Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) - 7.28
Consistency is one of Carvajal's best traits and is what makes the right-back such a crucial player for a Real Madrid side packed with players that can run hot and cold. The 28-year-old has started 22 of 27 LaLiga matches this season, with two of los Blancos' three defeats coming in the five matches the defender missed. The Spaniard has registered five assists in the league, while only Casemiro and Karim Benzema have earned a higher WhoScored rating for Madrid this season.
#3 Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) - 7.49
Scapegoated at times last season for an admitted drop off in form, there is no secret that Alonso is far more comfortable playing as a wing-back than he is in a back four. That's undeniably been the case once more this season and while the 29-year-old fell down the pecking order for a large chunk of the campaign, his impact on results is unquestionable. With four goals and two assists in just 11 league appearances, Chelsea have won eight of the nine matches the Spaniard has started, drawing the other.
#4 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) - 7.40
While many would claim that the number four shirt should be reserved for the holding midfielder in a team, Van Dijk practically does that job and a whole lot more for Liverpool. His distribution from the back is exceptional, completing more passes than any other Premier League player at an 89.2 per cent success rate, while the Dutchman is a renowned colossus in the air at both ends to boot. You don't really need us to tell you how good the 28-year-old is though, do you?
#5 Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) - 7.23
If Van Dijk is now widely considered the best centre-back in world football, Upamecano is deservedly thought of as one of those that will hope to challenge for that title in the years to come. Simply put, he has all of the tools to be an absolute superstar and has begun to show as much this season, not only with his muscular defending but the confidence with which he brings the ball out from the back. A total of 23 successful dribbles ranks fourth for Leipzig, while the 21-year-old has won 2.2 tackles per 90 and completed 88.8 per cent of 74.2 passes per 90.
Best dribble success rate by league (50+ attempted dribbles)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 2, 2020
🇩🇪 Thiago - 87.5%
🇪🇸 Thomas Partey - 86.8%
🏴 Mateo Kovacic - 86.3%
🇮🇹 Ismael Bennacer - 82.6%
🇫🇷 Jeff Reine-Adelaide - 74.6% pic.twitter.com/GaVajdRXxU
#6 Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich) - 7.55
The metronomic Thiago has enjoyed another outstanding season for Bayern and is the player that really makes the Bavarians tick in the middle of the park. His sublime pass accuracy of 90.8 per cent comes as no surprise but at times the Spaniard doesn't get the credit he deserves in other areas. He leads the team in interceptions per 90 (2.3), ranks second for tackles (2.4) and boasts the best dribble success rate in all of Europe of players to have attempted at least 50 this season (87 per cent).
#7 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) - 8.14
That's right, no Cristiano Ronaldo! The player most synonymous with any shirt number in the world doesn't make this team. A travesty, right? Well, while we're sure many will reply with the classic 'farmers league' quip when referencing Mbappe, how many would realistically choose an admittedly still exceptional 35-year-old Ronaldo over the Frenchman? Plenty? Well, fair enough but there is no arguing with the 21-year-old's form this season having had a direct hand in 23 league goals (scoring 18 and assisting five) in just 1516 minutes of action. That's a goal contribution every 66 minutes.
#8 Suat Serdar (Schalke) - 7.41
The least familiar name in this lineup for perhaps most of you, Serdar's is one to remember following a revelatory season at Schalke. The 22-year-old was capped three times by the German national team last year and was undoubtedly in the running for a place at the Euros prior to the tournaments postponement following some superb performances this season. In just 17 starts the versatile midfielder has scored seven goals, impressing in and out of possession with averages such as 3 successful dribbles and 3.1 tackles per 90 minutes. His influence is perhaps best highlighted by the fact that Schalke have won just one of the eight matches Serdar hasn't started.
#9 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - 8.16
Very few would argue that Lewandowski is the best number nine in world football, so it's only right he should take his place in this side. The 31-year-old just doesn't stop scoring and, in fact, may even have improved with age this season. His phenomenal WhoScored rating (8.16) would attest to as much, being as it is at its highest in the striker's career to date, with a stunning 25 goals from 23 league appearances thus far, without mentioning a tournament-leading 11 in the Champions League - another career high.
#10 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 8.61
No surprises here, as our highest rated player in Europe's top five leagues takes his famous number 10 jersey. The Barca talisman has had a direct hand in a remarkable 31 goals from just 22 league appearances and is one of only two players - along with Jadon Sancho - to register double figures for both goals (19) and assists (12). On top of that the Argentine is averaging more dribbles per 90 minutes (5.6) than in any LaLiga season since 2010/11. Not bad for a 32-year-old.
Most clear-cut chances created by league this season:— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 22, 2020
🏴 Premier League: K. De Bruyne (@ManCity) -- 23
🇪🇸 LaLiga: L. Messi (@FCBarcelona) -- 22
🇮🇹 Serie A: L. Albero (@OfficialSSLazio) -- 16
🇩🇪 Bundesliga: T. Muller (@FCBayern) -- 24
🇫🇷 Ligue 1: A. Di Maria (@PSG_inside) -- 32 pic.twitter.com/Hb1Qrwoev5
#11 Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) - 7.75
Another 32-year-old Argentine showing no sign of letting his standards slip, this has arguably been Di Maria's best in a PSG shirt. From just over 2000 minutes of Ligue 1 action the former Real Madrid and Manchester United man has had a direct hand in 22 goals, scoring eight and assisting 14 - reaching double figures for the latter for the seventh league season in his career. His creativity has been unparalleled when it has come to forging clear cut opportunities, with Opta crediting the playmaker for creating 32 'big chances' - at least eight more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.