Maddison’s game has changed a little since last season, with the midfielder occasionally played on the left of Brendan Rodgers’ 4-1-4-1 and tending to keep the ball for longer and more often, trying fewer killer through-balls and instead getting into goal-scoring positions himself.
In recent weeks he has moved back to a central midfield position from where he has scored three goals in five games – a phenomenal return. A slight negative is that zero assists for a player whose greatest attribute has been his vision, creating chances for others, isn’t as good as probably should be.
Only four chances created shows Maddison is playing in a different way to last season – whether that is from Rodgers’ coaching or because opposition teams are focused on stopping him supplying the final pass is difficult to determine.
13. Youri Tielemans (Leicester)
Tielemans captained Anderlecht while a teenager and so it should be no surprise that despite his young age of 22, he plays like a leader. Supremely gifted with the ball, Tielemans does a lot out of possession in the engine room of this impressive Leicester team. Two goals, one assist, 10 chances created, 35 recoveries – Tielemans is involved in everything.
14. Ederson (Manchester City)
The old commentator joke that Ederson ‘Could Do A Job Outfield’ feels less like a funny quip and more astute analysis the more time spent watching him. He really could. In addition to his phenomenal distribution, Ederson is also a reliable cross-gatherer and shot-stopper, pulling off some wonder saves against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
15. David Silva (Manchester City)
The master magician is still performing his greatest tricks on a weekly basis for Man City and is playing so well that it makes sense Pep Guardiola is struggling to integrate Phil Foden into the first team. Three goals in six games, including star performances against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
16. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
“It’s a great compliment when [Lionel] Messi votes for you,” said Mane of his Ballon d’Or nomination from the greatest player on earth of all time. “If you look at where I’ve come from, it shows I’ve come quite far.”
Very few would dispute that Mane is one of the most exciting forwards to watch in world football and Messi’s validation attests to that. He offers a bit of everything: blistering acceleration and pace, fantastic control, clever movement, those lovely chipped shots just over the raised hands of a beaten goalkeeper, and over the last couple of months Mane has scored three goals and created 14 chances while terrorising opposition defences. Brilliant against Newcastle and Leicester in particular.
17. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Villa have three fantastic players in Tyrone Mings, John McGinn and Jack Grealish, the former only just missing out on this list. The rest of the Villa team provide a platform for the individual stars to perform and that setup is working well at the moment with Dean Smith’s side sitting 15th in the table.
Two goals, two assists and 17 chances created (the joint-third most) for Grealish in his six games doesn’t tell the full story – the way Villa’s captain keeps the ball and orchestrates play has been vital to the earning points this season, with star performances against Norwich and Brighton securing vital wins over the past couple of months.
18. John McGinn (Aston Villa)
With all the commotion in parliament these days, you may have missed the law passed which dictates anyone who likes football must love John McGinn. No-nonsense, does all the simple things well, runs all day from box-to-box, goes past players, makes tackles and scores goals (two over the last couple of months). Guaranteed to be linked with big money moves to clubs higher up the table than Aston Villa, and is absolutely good enough for it.
19. Adama Traore (Wolves)
Runs as though launched from a cannon, has the upper body strength of a dodgem car and is finally producing a final ball and semi-accurate shot after many years of looking entirely one-dimensional. Traore was superb in Wolves’ 2-0 win over Man City and caused havoc down the right against Newcastle, with teammates constantly looking to him to create by blasting past opposition defenders as though a bowling ball through skittles.
20. Diego Rico (Bournemouth)
Bournemouth’s left-back, a player almost nobody had heard of before signing last summer for a mystery transfer fee, has proven to be an astute purchase by Eddie Howe despite failing to impress last season. Over the previous six games he has helped his team keep two clean sheets while also providing two assists. Rico is a ‘modern’ full-back, capable of running the channel and doing as much in defence as attack and just because you aren’t sure he’s a real person doesn’t mean he’s not great.