Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Mohamed Salah all MISS one place on the season’s CIES squad, but Raheem Sterling and Granit Xhaka make the line-up dominated by Manchester City players
- There are five players from league winner Man City in the team of the season
- But two stars in Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne missed the XI
- The CIES Football Observatory team is produced using data from Opta
As the curtain falls for the 2020-21 Premier League season, the CIES Football Observatory has published their team of the season with some surprising inclusions.
The backbone of the elite XI rests on Manchester City, the runaway Premier League winners, with five players in the line-up.
But the biggest surprise is that none of those five players are Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden, the influential playmakers who have been at the center of reclaiming the Premier League crown.
Phil Foden (L) and Kevin De Bruyne (R) were shocking omissions from the season’s CIES team
There were five City players in the line-up, with goalkeeper Ederson between the sticks
Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias (left and center) were named in the line-up’s defense
There are three City players in the back five – goalkeeper Ederson stands next to Joao Cancelo on the right back and Ruben Dias in the center.
Liverpool’s mercurial left back Andrew Robertson takes the left flank of defense while Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof completes the back four.
In a 4-2-3-1 line-up, the midfield axis consists of City’s midfielder Rodri paired with Arsenal enforcer Granit Xhaka.
Swiss midfielder Xhaka is an eye-catching inclusion with Arsenal with a disappointing campaign in Mikel Arteta’s first full season as manager. The Gunners finished eighth in the table, one point behind fierce rivals Tottenham.
Ahead of those two, Raheem Sterling, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount are the attacking midfielders with Tottenham’s Golden Boot winner Harry Kane in the lead.
Sterling’s inclusion in front of De Bruyne may seem particularly intriguing given how the England forward lost his place in City’s starting line-up in the second half of the 2020-21 season.
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka (R) was named in a midfield two alongside City’s Rodri
Chelsea’s Mason Mount was named in an attacking three in midfield after an impressive year
Bruno Fernandes’ significance at Manchester United was underscored in 2020-21
Sterling started Sunday in the 5-0 win against Everton, but sat on the bench for the most important knockout matches of the Champions League and, speaking to BT Sport in April, admitted that despite City’s overall success he was a ‘strange’ season.
Sterling told Rio Ferdinand, “Don’t get me wrong, this season has been a very weird season for me personally.
‘But I still enjoy my football and give everything for the team. If I don’t score or do something to help the team, I don’t like to get off the field. ‘
Another contender was Phil Foden, whose turnout coincided with Sterling who sometimes had to settle for a diminished role.
Raheem Sterling has admitted to having had a ‘weird’ season, but made it to the starting line-up
Mohamed Salah scored 22 goals for Liverpool this season, but did not make it to the last XI
The 20-year-old has scored 16 goals in 49 games in all competitions for City and his all-round play, apart from scoring goals, proved extremely influential for Guardiola.
Mohamed Salah may also consider himself unlucky for not being named in the squad based on an Opta’s stats over the season. The Liverpool forward hit 22 goals and missed the Golden Boot for Kane by one strike.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount, who plays against City in the Champions League final this weekend, had another super season at Stamford Bridge, while Bruno Fernandes’ significance at United cannot be underestimated.
CIES Football Observatory published their Team of the Season with some surprising inclusions