Each season, different players will rise to the occasion and provide a real bump to their team’s chances. This list is not a measure of talent, as much as it is a list of the most impactful players this season. Season results, combined with “what have you done for me lately”, are just a couple of the factors taken into account.
1. Lionel Messi
Messi gets the goal that counts. His second half winner versus Atletico Madrid secured the La Liga title for Barcelona. He may have had fewer goals than his rival this week, but Messi’s meant a whole lot more. Barcelona are once again the kings of Spain, and it is due in large part to their #10 superstar, Lionel Messi.
2. Gianluigi Buffon
It may seem weird to see Buffon this high on the list, but he has earned it. He was the man between the pipes for both legs against Real Madrid, helping secure his second Champions League finals appearance. He is a legend of the game, and at 37, still might have a few great years left in him. But for now, he will be gearing up for the final in Berlin, where Messi and company await.
3. Sydney Leroux/Dwyer
Do I call her Sydney Leroux, Dwyer, or Leroux-Dwyer? Either way, she scored two pretty sweet goals in a World Cup tuneup against Mexico over the weekend. The team in general hasn’t looked quite like a well-oiled machine that we are used to, so it is important for some individuals to pick up the slack. This time it was Leroux jump-starting the USWNT to a 5-1 victory. Her great play will be essential if the US is going to bring home the World Cup.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
A hat trick gives Ronaldo the La Liga scoring title. You can’t deny that the man is impressive. But he lost out on the La Liga title to his rival, while also failing to progress to the Champions League final. While his individual records are impressive, this is a team game, and without team success you drop on the list. Until next season, we await.
5. Steven Gerrard
It was not the Anfield departure that he wanted, nor deserved. Gerrard deserves at least a spot on our list, if nothing more than a tribute. He will make his way to the LA Galaxy after a final Premier League match, but you have to give props to the legend for his time at Liverpool and service to the game overall. Good luck, Mr. Gerrard.
6. Chris Wondolowski
He’s got 99 MLS goals, but can’t get a World Cup one. It is sad that he will most likely be remembered for his World Cup blunder, but he has continued his MLS brilliance this season. He scored his 99th MLS goal, and has San Jose sitting in 4th in the very tough Western Conference. Wondo has also helped mentor some young strikers while in USMNT camps.
7. Jamie Vardy
While they didn’t win to secure safety, a draw was enough to do the job with other results for Leicester City. Vardy has been the man up front all season, and his efforts this week were huge to getting the point. On April 4th, Leicester were bottom of the table with 19 points. Since that point, the club has garnered 19 additional points, which is amazing in the Premier League for a club of their stature. Congrats to Vardy and the rest of Leicester for a job well done.
8. Sadio Mane
Breaking a “quickest hat-trick” record is extremely difficult to do, and thus, Mane obviously deserves to be on the list. The 23-year-old from Senegal now has 10 goals in the Premier League for Southampton, and a bright future in tow. Some analysts have compared Mane to Portugese winger Nani, so that is a pretty positive player arc for Mane.
9. Yaya Toure
Sometimes you forget about 2nd place. Manchester City has seemingly fallen off the map since Chelsea claimed the league title. Everyone has seemingly forgotten about how Toure and company have secured a Champions League spot for next season. Toure has become one of the most known players in the world while making his career at City, being a part of the change in the club’s standing. He had a solid weekend performance, which is enough to put him on the list this week.
10. Aron Johannsson
The US international had a great week for AZ in the Dutch league. He scored an absolute rocket from long range, a sweet bicycle kick goal, and an assist that ensured Europa League competition for the club. He has caught fire at a perfect time, leading up to the Gold Cup this summer. He will be a option for Jurgen Klinsmann at forward, especially if he can keep up his recent form.
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