• John Gilding

EUROPE'S BEST: ARSENAL OUTCAST, £126M STAR AND MORE

Updated: Nov 13, 2020


Serie A: Henrikh Mkhitaryan - AS Roma

Roma’s attacking lineup this season reads a bit like a list of cast-offs. Pedro, unwanted at Chelsea, Borja Mayoral, who never quite met the expectations of him at Real Madrid, and Mkhitaryan, who lost his mojo at Arsenal. 

In Italy they seem to work together well though, and this season Roma have started strongly. They continued that form this weekend, with a confident 3-1 win over Genoa. Mkhitaryan scored all three of Roma’s goals in the match, in spectacular fashion.

This game went a long way to show that players don’t have to be named Messi or Ronaldo to still be excellent past 30. Pedro, Mkhitaryan and Dzeko, Roma’s starting front three, have a combined age of 98, but right now they sit at fourth in the league, and just one point behind second. They will need replacing at some point, that’s inevitable, but right now they look timeless.

La Liga: Joao Felix - Atletico Madrid

One hundred and twenty-six million Euros. It was an astonishing fee for a teenager playing in Portugal. And last season, the general consensus was that Felix didn’t really live up to the price Atletico paid for him. Whether that was because of the system he was playing in, the pressure of a bigger league or simply because he just wasn’t good enough, nobody really knew.

Except we do now know one thing - he is definitely good enough. This season he is proving that beyond any doubt. He has five goals and three assists in seven La Liga games this campaign, including grabbing two goals and an assist as he masterminded a 4-0 win over high-flying Cadiz at the weekend. 

Felix is finally hitting his stride at Atletico, stringing together the same flashes of brilliance we saw last season, but now doing it consistently. He may not have quite proved his worth yet, but he’s only 21 and has a long way to go, so don’t rule out Atletico making a profit on him.

Ligue 1: Angel Di Maria - Paris Saint Germain

Every year, French football pretty much plays out the same story. In pre-season predictions, we build up the strengths of title challengers, like Camavinga staying at Rennes or the creative ability in Lyon’s squad, and focus on PSG’s weaknesses, like their lack of a world-class right-back. But no matter how good everyone else is, PSG still just win the title anyway.

They look like they are in a very good position to do that again, as they already have a 5-point gap to Lille in second place, they are scoring for fun and no-one seems to be able to score against them. PSG’s attacking options are unbelievable, but against Rennes on Saturday, Di Maria was the jewel in the crown.

In the 3-0 victory, Di Maria pounced on an unusual Rennes mistake to set up Moise Kean for the opener and then struck home for the second ten minutes later. He netted the third in the second half to seal the game for the French giants. He was millimeters from getting his hat-trick, striking the post soon after the first goal, but it was a stunning performance all the same. PSG’s squad are slowly being mown down by injuries, but as long as they have the star power of players like DI Maria, it’s difficult to look past them to take home the title for a fifth season in a row. 

Bundesliga: Lucas Alario - Bayer Leverkusen 

In the same week as Der Klassiker, and an excellent Der Kalssiker at that, it can be difficult to shine in the rest of the Bundesliga. However, the next day, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach took things up a notch, producing a thrilling tussle which ended 4-3, with Leverkusen striker Alario making the difference. 

He netted twice in the match, firstly with a sweet strike into the far top corner from a fast Moussa Diaby break, and the second beating Ginter and the goalkeeper Sommer to a cross and heading into the empty net. 

Alario has been in wonderful form for Leverkusen in the league of late, currently only behind Lewandowski in the scoring charts. His performance at the weekend was slightly overshadowed by Valentino Lazaro’s stunning scorpion kick in extra time, which is already a contender for goal of the season.