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THE BEST TOP 50 PLAYERS IN EUROPE

THESE are the figures that shame England, Premier League football and struggling champions Manchester United.

New stats-based research has identified Europe’s top 50 footballers this season — and it is bleak reading for the domestic game.

Although Liverpool’s Luis Suarez emerges king of the strikers, only TWO English players make the top 50. Seven Prem stars get in but falling giants Manchester United boast only one — Wayne Rooney.

Boffins at the Football Observatory of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) in Switzerland used official Opta stats to analyse the performance of every player in the top five European Leagues — England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

Six categories are used, as Raffaele Poli of the Football Observatory explained. He said: “We use the weighted sum of Key Performance Indicators across six categories: Shooting, chance creation, take on, distribution, recovery and rigour.

“What also matters are the results of each player’s club.”

The first two are self-explanatory. Take on means dribbling, crossing and corners won.

Passing is calculated not just on success ratio but with extra weighting given to forward passes. Recovery is tackling, and rigour are blocks as well as goals/chances conceded.

Our tables show the top 10 full-backs, centre-halves, defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders and strikers.

Only Rooney, who ranks fifth in the strikers’ list, salvages some pride for United who have no other player in any other category — which reflects their disastrous season so far.

By contrast, European champions Bayern Munich have the most stars in the top 50 with seven. Barcelona have six as do Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona ace Lionel Messi, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero are not included as they have played less than 66 per cent of league matches.

Liverpool star Suarez’s colossal contribution is reflected as his 19 goals in 14 Prem starts rank him above Cristiano Ronaldo.

The results did not include this week’s action — Ronaldo scored two in La Liga against Malaga on Monday and Messi marked his return after two months out with a torn hamstring by scoring twice as a sub as Barcelona beat Getafe 4-0 in the Copa del Rey last night.

Reds skipper Steven Gerrard is seventh in the defensive midfielder category. City also have two players in the list with Pablo Zabaleta seventh as full-back and Samir Nasri the ninth best attacking midfielder.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey is the Prem’s highest-placed defensive midfielder in fourth.

Southampton’s Dejan Lovren squeezed into the top 10 of the centre-halves.

At least the list gives United’s under-fire boss David Moyes a guide to targets who could stop his side’s slide.

Stars like Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, Roma centre-half Leandro Castan and Juve’s Arturo Vidal all rate highly.

No wonder they have been linked with moves to Old Trafford in recent weeks.

TOP TEN STRIKERS

1. Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

3. Neymar (Barcelona)

4. Carlos Tevez (Juventus)

5. Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)

6. Diego Costa (Atletixo Madrid)

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)

8. Marco Reus (Dortmund)

9. Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)

10. Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad)

TOP OFFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS

1. Franck Ribery (Bayern)

2. James Rodriguez (Monaco)

3. Miralem Pjanic (Roma)

4. Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

5. Koke (Atletico Madrid)

6. Joao Moutinho (Monaco)

7. Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)

8. Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan)

9. Samir Nasri (Man City)

10. Toni Kroos (Bayern)

TOP DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS

1. Marco Verratti (PSG)

2. Arturo Vidal (Juventus)

3. Gabi (Atletico Madrid)

4. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

5. Thiago Motta (PSG)

6. Jeremy Toulalan (Monaco)

7. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

8. Paul Pogba (Juventus)

9. Philipp Lahm (Bayern)

10. Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)

TOP CENTRE-BACKS

1. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

2. Leandro Castan (AS Roma)

3. Dante (Bayern)

4. Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)

5. Jerome Boateng (Bayern)

6. Gerard Pique (Barcelona)

7. Medhi Benatia (AS Roma)

8. Andrea Barzagli (Juventus)

9. Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

10. Dejan Lovren (Southampton)

TOP FULL-BACKS

1. David Alaba (Bayern)

2. Dani Alves (Barcelona)

3. Rafinha (Bayern)

4. Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)

5. Layvin Kurzawa (Monaco)

6. Serge Aurier (Toulouse)

7. Pablo Zabaleta (Man City)

8. Maicon (AS Roma)

9. Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)

10. Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg)

SOURCE: THE SUN
IMAGE; THE SUN
www.thesun.co.uk

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