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Impossible to look beyond dominant Reds in picking league team of season

Jamie Carragher


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Sadio Mane. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

Sadio Mane. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

Sadio Mane. Photo: Nick Potts/PA

In normal circumstances, the Professional Footballers' Association would now be selecting its team of the season and the votes cast for Player of the Year. With football paused, we may be several months away from the official selection, but in the meantime I can at least submit what I consider the best XI up until this point.

Goalkeeper

Dean Henderson, Sheffield United

In a starting XI packed with the league leaders, I can imagine I have upset Liverpool supporters by failing to select Alisson Becker. He is the best keeper in the world and in normal circumstances would be straight in. But I am basing my judgment on a season in which he has only played just over half the games in all competitions.

In the Premier League, Henderson has as many clean sheets as Alisson, and his save success rate is 76 per cent - just behind Liverpool's No 1.

Right-back

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

Trent is the first of seven Anfield players in my line-up. I cannot imagine there will be any argument.

His form speaks for itself with 12 Premier League assists. He is Liverpool's playmaker at right-back.

He is probably the best right-back in Europe. He must be the Young Player of the Year, and will probably establish himself as England's first-choice full-back before the next major international tournament.

Centre-half

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool

Quite simply, one of the best players in the world. Since moving to Liverpool, Van Dijk has been elevated into that sphere of players who could play for any side. He is so good, sometimes it feels he is taken for granted. Whenever the Player of the Year is debated, it is strange how few pundits put him forward.

Centre-half

Joe Gomez, Liverpool

Assembling this team I am wary of having too many Liverpool players, and this is one of the positions where I thought long and hard about alternatives. Leicester's Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu have been outstanding. But how can I separate Van Dijk and Gomez? They have not lost a league game as a defensive duo, and in some games Gomez has eclipsed his senior partner.

Left-back

Andy Robertson, Liverpool

I was scratching my head and asking who could reasonably challenge Robertson? The answer is no one. He has seven assists in the Premier League and remains the outstanding left-back playing in English football. To put it into perspective, Leicester's Ben Chilwell and Everton's Lucas Digne have three and five Premier League assists, respectively.

Midfield

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Whether you support Manchester City or not, everybody loves watching Kevin De Bruyne. He is the only realistic challenger to the Liverpool stars for Player of the Season, and may even win it if there is a split in the voting for the Anfield contingent.

He is the most creative midfielder in the world and currently has 16 Premier League assists, four behind Thierry Henry's record of 20. It looks like he will eclipse that when play resumes.

Midfield

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool

I have to say I am delighted but a little baffled that Jordan Henderson is getting more praise this season than in previous years. I think that probably says more about those suggesting he has massively improved rather than the player himself because his consistent excellence as captain has been fundamental to Liverpool's return to the top. What is most impressive this season is the manner in which Henderson switched midfield roles. Until December, Fabinho was Liverpool's best player and his injury could have been a critical moment in the title race. Instead, Henderson assumed the number six position and performed brilliantly.

Midfield

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa

It is rare for a player at a club in the bottom three to make the team of the year, but I have enjoyed watching Grealish as much as anyone. When Aston Villa were promoted there were questions asked as to whether Grealish was the real deal. He has answered positively. No player has been fouled more in the Premier League - rival managers are targeting him. I will be staggered if he does not get a chance for England soon.

Forward

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

There was a moment when I thought of leaving out Salah and selecting Raheem Sterling. I slept on it and thought, "What am I thinking?"

Salah's enduring contribution must be recognised. He has 20 goals in all competitions, remains in contention for the Premier League golden boot and has plenty of assists to go with it. Plenty say he is not at the level of two years ago, which might be true, but it is wrong to judge him against that extraordinary standard.

Forward

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

Liverpool fans will be asking, "Where is Roberto Firmino?" Leicester fans will want to know why Jamie Vardy is not in this line-up and Arsenal fans Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I also considered Wolves' Raul Jimenez.

But Aguero is too often overlooked. He averages a goal every 88 minutes in the Premier League, making him more prolific than Aubameyang (136 minutes) and Vardy (118 minutes).

Forward (and Player of the Year)

Sadio Mane, Liverpool

It may be many months before the Player of the Year award is presented, but Mane deserves it. The problem for Liverpool is they have so many outstanding players there is not one who stands out above all others. I am favouring Mane because it is worth remembering he had only one week off last summer. He scored the winning goals at critical moments at the start of the season and in the weeks before play stopped. He has been phenomenal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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