Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United – Portugal
Once again Bruno Fernandes was Manchester United’s most influential player as they finished in second place behind Manchester City.
The Portuguese midfielder was also integral in ensuring that whilst they were unable to progress through their Champions League group that they did reach the Europa League final.
For Fernandes however, it has been a big question of him whether or not he could stand up in the biggest of moments. A disappointing campaign at the European Championships for his nation this summer only furthers questioning of his application on the biggest of stages. This furthered on from a poor Europa League final display.
Yet, 18 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League from midfield is an astounding total that truly does reflect his abilities. Turning 27 in September, Fernandes is on the verge of his prime and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope it will include aiding in a title push for the Red Devils next season.
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City – Belgium
With a new contract signed, Kevin De Bruyne’s Manchester City future is assured and he can now focus on pushing the club to the next level. Stricken in the Champions League final due to an injury after a collision with Antonio Rudiger, De Bruyne watched on as Chelsea lifted his most coveted prize.
Despite being both the Premier League and League Cup winners it still felt like a season where their ultimate aim was not achieved. The Champions League has always been what the club has fought for and brought players like De Bruyne in to reach.
Injuries have held De Bruyne back. Just 25 Premier League appearances last season but still managing 6 goals and 12 assists and 28 goal contributions across 40 appearances in all competitions.
De Bruyne will be remembered as a Premier League legend. Now 30, it is his job to be more than just the talisman of the side. He needs to lead Pep Guardiola’s vision for the upcoming season to yet another title and one step further in Europe.
Mason Mount – Chelsea – England
When Chelsea decided to sack Frank Lampard and bring in Thomas Tuchel, many questions emerged about the futures and assurances of so many first-team players. Whilst the likes of Kurt Zouma and Ben Chilwell were left wanting more minutes, Mount remained a stalwart of the team.
His performances in the league and Europe solidified his place as not just an integral figure at Chelsea but for England and Gareth Southgate also.
6 goals and 6 assists in the league understated the impact Mount has on games. He is influential on the biggest stages too with a goal against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final and the assist for Kai Havertz in the tournament’s final, in addition to scoring the only goal of the game at Anfield against Liverpool.
Like any England player, recovering from the disappointment of the European Championship final will be a test. Especially for the young players like Mount, given responsibility by Southgate and for good reason.
How Mount responds as he enters his next full season as a Premier League standout talent could define the next stage of his career.
Phil Foden – Manchester City – England
How many times did anyone criticise the lack of game time given to Phil Foden by Pep Guardiola? It was easy to lose count and in the end the Spaniard was completely justified in his measured approach to gradually integrate the City youth product into the team.
City rose to dominance through investment but Foden represents the next step for the club, producing world-class players and bringing them through. Jadon Sancho, another City product, will play against his former teammate but the signs for City’s homegrown future are good.
Having become a fully-fledged first-teamer at City, Foden was electric as the Citizens achieved yet another Premier League title. 9 goals and 5 assists in the league which became part of a 16 goal season with 10 assists in total. Foden hasn’t just become part of the fabric of Guardiola’s team, he’s become near undroppable.
This year, in which he will play the campaign entirely still as a 21-year-old, Foden has the opportunity to try and kick on further. The aim will be to reach double figures in goals in the league with even the possibility of similar numbers creatively too. He, alongside Bukayo Saka and Sancho, are hoped to be the future for the nation.
Jack Grealish – Manchester City – England
Jack Grealish is now set to ply his trade at Manchester City in 2021/22 following a switch from Aston Villa, who are no doubt set to struggle to replace him.
Grealish’s loss to Villa at the end of last season due to injury single-handedly ended their hopes of a European place finish. Being such a transformative and match-winning figure for Dean Smith’s side means his importance was unrivalled against almost any Premier League player bar perhaps Harry Kane.
6 goals and 12 assists in the league could have been arguably much more if injury hadn’t limited him to just 26 league appearances.
It is only a matter of time before Grealish gets his first taste of European football at domestic level, with he and Foden no doubt set to be integral figures in Man City’s success over the years to come.