Top 10 players in La Liga this season outside the ‘Big 3’

Somewhat predictably the dominance that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have exerted on La Liga in recent years has continued this season and if anything the gap between the trio and the rest has grown. Last term Valencia and Sevilla finished with 77 and 76 points respectively and both were just another win short of finishing above Atleti in 3rd.

However this season Valencia have imploded and find themselves in a relegation battle while Sevilla almost incredibly are yet to record an away win. Villarreal in 4th are 12 points back on the top three and they themselves are a further 8 points clear of the rest so clearly the league remains very top-heavy. Therefore it is no surprise that the top 9 performers in La Liga this season according to WhoScored.com all play for one of the top 3 clubs with Real’s ‘BBC’ and Barca’s ‘MSN’ taking up the top six positions.

There are some players lower down that are enjoying fine seasons though and here are the top 10 outside the ‘big 3’ this term (only including players who have made 15+ starts in La Liga):

  1. Nolito, Celta Vigo

    Average Rating – 7.53

Few would argue against Nolito being one of the stars of the campaign. He has scored 10 goals and created a further 6 which is impressive given he missed over 2 months with a thigh injury. Celta struggled during that period and the 29 year old’s return has coincided with an upturn in form with the Galicians looking well set to qualify for Europe. He has been strongly linked with a return to Barcelona this summer with the Catalans rumoured to have made a failed bid to sign him in January.

  1. Aritz Aduriz, Athletic Bilbao

    Average Rating – 7.39

It has been another stellar season from Aritz Aduriz as he has spearheaded the Athletic attack with 33 goals in all competitions. His form has seen him break into the Spain squad at the grand old age of 35 and he could yet be a key player for Vicente Del Bosque’s men this summer in France.

  1. Shkodran Mustafi, Valencia

    Average Rating – 7.38

It has been a season of precious few positives for Valencia but Shkodran Mustafi has been one. The 23 year old German is developing into a fine player and Valencia would be in an even deeper mess were it not for his reliable showings in the heart of their defence. To put things into perspective he has won ‘man of the match’ in 4 of Valencia’s 8 league wins this term.

  1. Grzegorz Krychowiak, Sevilla

    Average Rating – 7.31

Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak has built on an impressive debut season in Spain and is unquestionably one of the leading defensive midfielders in the division and perhaps Europe right now. Sevilla may have to fend off interest in the 26 year old this summer with numerous Premier League clubs having been linked with a swoop for the player.

  1. Asier Illarramendi, Real Sociedad

    Average Rating – 7.28

It never quite worked out for Asier Illarramendi at the Bernabeu and he struggled in the face of stiff competition for places but he is looking at home again back in San Sebastian. He has been integral to Real Sociedad’s resurgence with a string of fine performances in the heart of the midfield since the turn of the year.

  1. Diego Reyes, Real Sociedad

    Average Rating – 7.28

Mexican centre-back Diego Reyes has been one of the most impressive debutants in La Liga this term. He is only on loan from Porto, where he barely got much of a look in but has quickly established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet at the Anoeta. The 23 year old already has 32 caps for Mexico but with no ‘option to buy’ in the loan contract he will most likely be back in Portugal next season.

  1. Weligton, Malaga

    Average Rating – 7.28

It has been a good year for the veterans with the likes of Aduriz and Ruben Castro both still banging in the goals in their mid-30s while 36 year old Weligton has formed the core of one of La Liga’s meanest defences. Only 3 teams have conceded fewer goals than Malaga this term and the Brazilian is one of the main reasons why that is the case.

  1. Yuri, Real Sociedad

    Average Rating – 7.26

Perhaps one of the more surprising names in the list, Yuri has endured an odd career in many respects having deserted his native Basque Country to join Tottenham as a teenager but failing to make the grade. After several years in the lower leagues in Spain he is back at his hometown club and since he broke into the side in late October has been a permanent fixture for La Real, putting in some excellent displays at left-back.

  1. Bruno, Villarreal

    Average Rating – 7.23

Villarreal are having a fine campaign and look certain to make the Champions League. The calming presence of club legend Bruno in the heart of the midfield has again been key to their success. The 31 year old ‘one club man’ has seen the good and bad times during his long stay at El Madrigal and his loyalty and presence on the pitch has always made it easier for Villarreal to adapt to the constant flurry of departures and new arrivals each summer.

  1. Raul Garcia, Athletic Bilbao

    Average Rating – 7.23

While Aduriz has rightly received many of the plaudits, Raul Garcia has impressed at San Mames following his summer move from Atletico Madrid. The 29 year old has chipped in with 7 goals and 6 assists as Athletic have enjoyed a solid league campaign while also progressing into the last eight of the Europa League.


Honorable mentions should go out to Sevilla’s Ever Banega, Malaga’s Ignacio Camacho, Depor striker Lucas Pérez and Real Betis defender Heiko Westermann who were all close to making the list.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the top 10 is that only 1 Villarreal player makes it and that points to the fact that their success this term both at home and abroad has been a team effort rather than down to individual brilliance.

The presence of 3 Real Sociedad players in the top 8 may also surprise a few people but there have been glimpses of their quality particularly in away wins at Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao and heavy wins on the road at Granada, Levante and Espanyol. Inconsistency and injury problems have plagued them though and surely next season they ought to be targeting European qualification.


 

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