Christmas and New Years celebrations are over and we have now entered the new year of 2024.
That means that all attention is back on club football – and the January transfer window – as Europe’s biggest leagues resume.
As a recap of the club season so far, we select our best XI of the 2023-24 campaign so far from around Europe’s top five leagues.
We have chosen a 4-3-1-2 formation.
GK: Yann Sommer (Inter)
When Inter sold Andre Onana to Man Utd this past summer and replaced him with a 34-year-old Yann Sommer the overwhelming consensus was that Inter had massively downgraded.
After all, Onana had been arguably the best goalkeeper in the Champions League last season, keeping the most clean sheets in the competition as Inter reached the final.
However, the opposite has been true. Sommer has been the best goalkeeper in Serie A, keeping more clean sheets than anyone else in Europe’s top leagues and conceding just seven league goals from 17 games. Inter are already clear at the top of the table and through to the last-16 of the Champions League, while Onana has been a disaster for a Man Utd side who have had the worst start to a campaign in over 30 years.
RB: Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)
One of many Bayer Leverkusen players to feature in this team (spoiler alert), Jeremie Frimpong has been nothing short of outstanding this term, although it is somewhat erroneous to classify him as a traditional right-back. He’s more of a wing-back and even that is quickly becoming an obsolete descriptor as he is more wing than back at this point.
The Dutchman has been spectacular going forward for the Werkself and contributed with an impressive five goals and seven assists in 16 games. No wonder Man Utd and Real Madrid are interested in him.
CB: Micky van de Ven (Tottenham)
Prior to his injury, there were few defenders as impressive as Micky van de Ven. After a spectacular breakout campaign in the Bundesliga last term, Tottenham snapped up the Dutchman for €40 million in the summer and it turned out to be a great piece of business.
The 22-year-old took to the physicality and speed of the Premier League like a fish to water and proved an ideal fit for Ange Postecoglou’s risky approach to defending. His recovery pace is immaculate and he struck up a fantastic partnership with Cristian Romero prior to his unfortunate hamstring injury.
CB: Daley Blind (Girona)
Girona have been the surprise package in European football this season and they are currently level on points with league leaders Real Madrid after 18 matches.
The summer addition of Daley Blind has played a key role in their form this campaign, with the veteran slotting in perfectly to their 3-4-3 system.
Bling’s progressive passing numbers are incredible (7.35 per 90) and he ranks in the top 1% of centre-backs in Europe’s top five leagues for that metric. He is key to Girona’s style of play and is one reason why they look set for a title fight in La Liga.
LB: Alejandro Grimaldo (Bayer Leverkusen)
Rounding off the defence is yet another Werkself star, but how could we possibly ignore Alejandro Grimaldo? The Spaniard has been such a revelation this season that he has become a senior Spain international at 28 years of age!
With seven goals and six assists, Grimaldo has arguably been even better than his Dutch counterpart on the right and the left-back has stunned fans with his spectacular shooting technique on more than one occasion.
Be it from set pieces or open play, Grimaldo’s deliveries are deadly and when nobody is there to finish them off, well, he’ll just do it himself. He has been an incredible signing and he didn’t cost Alonso’s side a single penny.
CM: Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa)
A player who has come to typify Aston Villa’s spectacular rise under Unai Emery, Douglas Luiz has been one of the best midfielders in the Premier League this term.
The Brazilian does a bit of everything and offers the Villans both stability and a drive forward, having notched five goals and three assists so far this season. It is a testament to how good he has been that Arsenal are desperate to sign him.
Luiz is one of Villa’s most important assets and if he stays put for the full season, there is no reason to believe that Emery’s men can’t get into the Champions League.
Hakan Calhanoglou (Inter)
Hakan Calhanoglu has comfortably been the best midfielder in Serie A this season, running the show in almost every game he has played.
Ever since being moved by Simone Inzaghi into a deep-lying position, Calhanoglu has been a revelation and arguably an upgrade on the departed Marcelo Brozovic.
His passing, long-range shooting, penalties and set-pieces are as good as it gets and he has seven goals and three assists so far in 2023-24.
CM: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)
Jude Bellingham has been the best signing in world football this season and was therefore a shoe-in to be included in this team.
The England international has 13 goals and two assists in 16 La Liga games, and currently leads the scoring charts in Spain, despite the fact he is a midfielder.
JUDE BELLINGHAM AGAIN! 🤩
He heads home his 15th goal of the season 🔥 pic.twitter.com/gxfmJfmMs7
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 29, 2023
Bellingham has replaced Karim Benzema’s final-third inevitability and could lead Real Madrid to a league and Champions League double if things continue in their current fashion.
AMC: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
Antoine Griezmann re-joined Atletico Madrid on loan last summer, but the move was made permanent for just €20 million during the most recent window.
Since his transfer from Barcelona, the Frenchman has been one of the world’s very best players. This campaign, Griezmann has already scored 11 goals and provided two assists in La Liga, while he netted five times in six Champions League group stage games too.
He is the heartbeat of Diego Simeone’s Atleti side and is driving their push for success this campaign. In 2023, there have been very few players, if any, in better form than Griezmann.
FW: Lautaro Martinez (Inter)
Lautaro Martinez has finally exploded into the world class attacker that everyone has long expected him to be.
This season, the Argentine has been unstoppable with 15 goals in 16 Serie A games, making him the league’s top scorer and a shoe-in to win the Capocannoniere crown.
His partnership with Marcus Thuram has been almost telepathic at times as Inter have scored a brilliant 41 goals in just 17 games.
Inter are thus strong favourites to not only win Serie A but also look like a real challenger for the Champions League.
FW: Harry Kane – Bayern
Bayern annihilated the Bundesliga transfer record to land Tottenham legend Harry Kane and the investment has paid off. Kane has been nothing short of a transfer coup for the Bavarians, though it is quite ironic that Bayern only find themselves second in the table despite his signing.
Kane leads both the Bundesliga Golden Boot and European Golden Shoe races and he could conceivably break Robert Lewandowski’s single-season scoring record of 41 goals. The England star has found the net 21 times in 15 Bundesliga outings, also notching five assists.