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Pogba Named To Europe’s Best XI

His form has been criticized by pundits in the media all season, but According to the CIES Football Observatory, Paul Pogba was one of the top midfielders this season.

Judged on categories like rigour, recovery, distribution, chance creation and take-ons, Pogba is one of the three highest ranked defensive central midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues.

He scored a 89 on their 100-point scale and therefore earned a place alongside Thiago Alcantara (rated 90) of Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita (88.5) in central midfield.

There are considerably less surprising names in the line-up, such as Lionel Messi (93.5), who has been given a berth on the right.

And Cristiano Ronaldo, who took both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s The Best award in 2016, has been selected for the left flank courtesy of his 90 rating, which made him the second best ranked winger in Europe.

Bayern Munich’s centre back pairing of Javi Martinez (87) and Mats Hummels (86.5) line up in the middle of the defence after ranking as the top two for their position.

Manuel Neuer (88) is also not a shock choice between the sticks, although he was surprisingly followed by Sergio Asenjo of Villarreal in second, but elsewhere there are some unexpected names in the team.

For example, Alex Sandro just edges out Real Madrid’s Marcelo to take a place at left-back in the side. Because they have selected the team by position, it means arguably one of the best recent performers in world football – Marcelo – misses out entirely.

So does David Alaba, who also plays at left-back, which means Bruno Peres takes the right-back spot.

The selection up front may also come as a surprise to most casual football observers.

Dries Mertens takes the spot for best central striker after an unbelievable season for Napoli in which he has scored 31 goals in 43 appearances across all competitions.

There is also no place for Kevin De Bruyne in the team, despite his high ranking. This is because they have used a 4-3-3 formation, meaning no place for a central attacking midfielder.