By James Nalton, Football Whispers
Real Madrid dominate a shortlist of 55 of the world’s best players as professionals from around the globe voted for the best players during the 2016/17 season.
Thirteen players from Zinedine Zidane’s squad are included in the list, and are expected to have plenty of names in the final FIFPro Team of the Year when it is revealed on October 23.
The final team will be set up in a 4-3-3 system and we asked our friends at Football Whispers to select their Team of the Year from the original long list.
Goalkeeper – Gianluigi Buffon
The 39-year-old Juventus stopper is a goalkeeping phenomenon who, despite his advancing years, remains one of the best around. Last season he helped Juventus to their sixth consecutive Serie A title, while also reaching the Champions League final. He was named in the Champions League team of the tournament, and was also voted UEFA club goalkeeper of the year.
READ MORE: FA tell Man United to act over Lukaku chant
READ MORE: Bellew accepts Haye rematch
READ MORE: Five problems with Klopp’s Liverpool
Right Back – Dani Carvajal
The Spaniard has become a vital part of Zidane’s Real Madrid side, as the French manager uses the threat from the flanks to provide chances for Los Blancos’ array of attacking talent. Carvajal is a vital part of this and picked up five assists in the Champions League alone, which Real went on to win with their right-back one of the standout players in the final.
Centre Back – Leonardo Bonucci
The 30-year-old Italian made a shock move to Juventus’ Serie A rivals Milan this summer after performing consistently throughout the year and forming part of one of Europe’s most stubborn defences. His side only conceded 27 goals in 38 league games, and had conceded only three goals in the Champions League prior to their 4-1 loss to Real in the final in Cardiff.
Centre Back – Diego Godin
With several players narrowly missing out, including Bonucci’s defensive partner Georgio Chiellini, the left centre-back berth goes to the rugged Uruguayan blocker Godin. Atletico Madrid conceded the fewest goals in La Liga last season with 27, and led Los Rojiblancos to a Champions League semi-final. The 30-year-old proves the art of defending is still alive and well in the modern game.
READ MORE: Chelsea facing prospect of FIFA transfer ban
READ MORE: Rio warned he could die in the ring
READ MORE: Liverpool defending makes Klopp sick
Left Back – Marcelo
The Brazilian has divided opinion for much of his career, but watching any Real game last season their left-back was one of the stand-out players, especially in attack. He racked up ten assists in the league and also assisted the fourth goal in the Champions League final. Like Carvajal, he’s benefitting from Zidane’s system.
Defensive Midfielder – Casemiro
The reason Madrid’s full-backs can be so effective under Zidane is partly thanks to the insurance provided by deep-lying midfielder Casemiro. The 25-year-old fills gaps behind any advancing players out wide or in midfield, and can also contribute to the attack when required. He managed four goals in the league last season and also one in the Champions League final, but his real value lies in his willingness to defend while others bomb forward.
Central Midfielder – Marco Verratti
While his Paris Saint-Germain side may have come up short in their pursuit of domestic and European silverware, there’s no doubting Italian midfielder Verratti is one of the best around in his position. Choosing between him and Toni Kroos will be a tough decision, but the Barcelona transfer target would get into any midfield in Europe.
Attacking Midfielder – Isco
Real Madrid’s unlikely hero last season, the midfielder emerged as a key component of Zidane’s midfield, especially in the Champions League, and was one of the most exciting players to watch in Europe. The Spaniard was expected to be a bit-part player and, while he didn’t start every game, he became an important part of the side in Gareth Bale’s absence. In every game he featured he showed great touch, vision, and technique which puts him up there with the best around.
Forward – Lionel Messi
Just the 54 goals and 19 assists in 52 games last season, during a campaign which was considered disappointing for Barcelona whose only trophy was the Copa Del Rey. They were pipped by rivals Madrid who won La Liga by three points, and only reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Despite this Messi was impressive as ever, and shows no signs of slowing down as he enters his 30s.
Forward – Robert Lewandowski
The Polish striker continues to be one of the most complete forwards in world football, and his 43 goals in 47 games for Bayern Munich last season saw his side walk to the league title and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. He is now interesting Real Madrid in a move which could see the player reach the very top in terms of individual and European honours. He just edges Luis Suarez as the central attacker.
Forward – Neymar
Neymar’s performances at Barcelona earned him a big money move to Qatar backed Paris Saint-Germain, as he looks to carve out a career away from the shadow of Messi and Luis Suarez. However, during his last season as part of the MSN trio, he was a regular performer contributing to his side’s cause with a total of 20 goals and 27 assists throughout the season.