Top 100 players of 2016: Countdown continues with players ranked 40-21
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 27/12/16 8:34am
Sky Sports is counting down the top 100 players of 2016, as ranked by WhoScored.com in a five-part series. But who will come out on top?
After every game, WhoScored.com gives players competing in Europe's top five leagues a mark out of 10 based on a wide range of statistical data. Each player received an average score for 2016, and to qualify for our list, players had to have made at least 20 league appearances.
So will Lionel Messi retain his crown or can Cristiano Ronaldo clinch first place? Where do Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale place? And how do Premier League stars Philippe Coutinho, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero compare?
In part four of our series, we continue our countdown by looking at the players ranked 40-21...
40. Sofiane Boufal - Southampton - 7.4659 WhoScored.com rating
It is the Southampton record-signing's form for Lille last season that has won him a place in this list. Injuries have restricted his opportunities to shine in the Premier League.
39. Andrea Belotti - Torino - 7.4672
Twenty-two year old Italy international Andrea Belotti has enjoyed a breakthrough 2016, scoring 11 times in Serie A in the second half of last season before matching that tally two games into December this term. One to watch.
38. Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Manchester United - 7.4727
It has taken longer than expected for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to be introduced to the Manchester United masses but fans are starting to see why the Old Trafford hierarchy brought in the player with the most assists in the Bundesliga last season.
37. Fabinho - Monaco - 7.48
Monaco's resurgence has taken many by surprise, but when you possess players of the calibre of Fabinho, you can see why they are heavily fancied to regain the Ligue 1 crown. The Brazilian was man of the match against Tottenham at Wembley, alerting those less versed on French football to his talents.
36. Christian Eriksen - Tottenham - 7.48
Only Mesut Ozil made more Premier League assists than Christian Eriksen last season, and five assists in all competitions so far this season shows he still has his eye in. The Denmark international started this campaign slowly, without a league goal until late November, but has five in his last four outings, ensuring he was a late climber in this list.
35. Ryad Boudebouz - Montpellier - 7.4874
It has been an impressive 2016 for Ryad Boudebouz. Eleven assists last season was certainly impressive, but the Algeria international has gone on to score seven leagues goals already this time around.
34. Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City - 7.4957
Ask most Manchester City fans what the deciding factor in Leicester's fairy tale title success last season and they would tell you it was Kevin De Bruyne's injury late in the season, when City looked on course to finish top of the pile.
33. Gonzalo Higuain - Juventus - 7.5017
After breaking the Serie A goalscoring record on the final day of last season, Juventus broke their transfer record to sign Gonzalo Higuain for £75m. Nine league goals so far represents a decent return, but with his fitness improving by the week, the net is likely to bulge more regularly before the end of the season.
32. Angel Di Maria - PSG - 7.506
It may well have not worked out for Angel Di Maria at Manchester United, but the Argentina international has rekindled the form that made him the darling of Real Madrid in the French capital.
31. Maxime Gonalons - Lyon - 7.5066
Averaging over 4.5 tackles per game, Lyon skipper Maxime Gonalons is well ahead of the next best in that department and continues to go from strength to strength.
30. Ricardo Pereira - Nice - 7.5233
As Paris Saint-Germain have stuttered this season, Nice have excelled, with full-back Ricardo Pereira playing a pivotal role. Ranking in the top tackles in the league, as well as being able to contribute to the assist charts has helped the 23-year-old make the list.
29. Miralem Pjanic - Juventus - 7.5303
Football in its purest form, Miralem Pjanic is one of the most elegant footballers around. That's why Juventus paid more than €30m for the Bosnia international last summer. Five goals and four assists in the league alone this season is an impressive return from central midfield.
28. Alexandre Lacazette - Lyon - 7.5357
Often the subject of the latest transfer rumour, Alexandre Lacazette has enjoyed a rather prolific 2016, and is once again second in the goalscoring charts in France, this time behind Edinson Cavani.
27. Mousa Dembele - Tottenham - 7.5362
Your peers are often the best judges of your ability. Ask any Tottenham player who the best player at White Hart Lane is, more often than not answer back is Mousa Dembele. Vincent Janssen even went as far as to say Dembele was the best he had faced, despite only having done so in training!
26. Thiago Silva - PSG - 7.5508
Brazilian defender Thiago Silva was at the heart of Paris Saint-Germain's latest title winning campaign in 2015/16. With their captain marshalling their backline, the French club conceded just 19 times as they marched to a comprehensive title defence, finishing 31-points clear of second-placed Lyon.
25. Raffael - Borussia Monchengladbach - 7.5508
A surprise inclusion for those who aren't regular Bundesliga watchers, but 13 goals and 10 assists last season is how Raffael secured his spot in this illustrious list.
24. Roberto Firmino - Liverpool - 7.5766
Having arrived in England as a relative unknown, Roberto Firmino has emerged as a key player for Liverpool. Able to play anywhere across the front line, the fleet-footed Brazilian has condemned Daniel Sturridge to the substitutes' bench for much of this season thanks to some impressive displays.
23. Ousmane Dembele - Borussia Dortmund - 7.5803
One of the younger players on the list, Ousmane Dembele's rise has been nothing short of meteoric and, after it was Borussia Dortmund who secured the talented teenager's services in the summer, Dembele has continued to shine.
22. Alex Sandro - Juventus - 7.5903
Juventus' reliable left wing-back has already matched his tally of three assists from last season this term and has helped the reigning champions back to the top of Serie A in 2016/17.
21. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City - 7.59
Sergio Aguero has gone from strength to strength since arriving in England five years ago. Nobody with more than 900 minutes under their belts scored more frequently than Aguero last season (a goal every 102 minutes). Ten goals in 11 Premier League starts this season isn't bad either.