The 2018-19 season gave us memories, dominant play, and one heck of a race for the league title, eventually won by Manchester City on decision day.
With the 2019-20 season coming fast and as teams are reporting for pre-season training camp in preparation for the upcoming campaign, we took to the near impossible task of ranking the top 50 players entering the Premier League this season. Most of these are recognizable names, with a few newcomers on newly-promoted teams to watch.
Here are our top 50 players entering the start of the Premier League season next month, with some merit based on overall talent for the player but mostly based on their production from the 2018-19 campaign.
50. Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City
When on the pitch, and when healthy, Kevin de Bruyne is one of the best midfielders in the game. Neither of those two really happened last season. The Belgian mid missed half of the season due to one leg injury after another, scoring just a pair of goals and tallying only a pair of assists. But, when healthy, as he should be entering this season, de Bruyne can tally over 16 assists per season as he did in the two previous years before last season and will be looking to get back to that in a comeback season for him in 2019.
49. Shane Duffy, Brighton and Hove Albion
The Irish defender made a big name for himself scoring this season for the Seagulls, finishing second on Brighton with five while tallying four assists for an attack that struggled to score in 2018-19 and barely survived relegation. Duffy’s five goals also put him in second in goalscoring, behind just one other central defender in any of Europe’s top-five leagues – Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos. Not a bad name to be associated with. With a new manager in place, Duffy will be expected to have a better season in what’s expected to be a fast start for the Seagulls under new manager Graham Potter. The Seagulls open the season with three matches against teams that finished in the bottom half, opening the way also for a fast start in the goal tallies for Duffy.
48. Ahmed El Mohamady, Aston Villa
Aston Villa did some strong work in the Championship last year and gave us several players to watch for entering their return to the top flight in 2019. El Mohamady’s eight assists last season were more than any other newly promoted defender entering this season (also his most since 2012-13), along with his 52 key passes, also the most among recently promoted defenders. He netted a pair of goals just to add the cherry on top of a strong comeback season. El Mohamady’s eight assist-season comes on top of his five-assist season a year ago. Aston Villa also led the league in spending this summer (93.1 million Euros spent), looking to stay in the Premier League for the foreseeable future.
47. Emi Buendia, Norwich City
Buendia’s 12 assists for the Canaries in their return from the Championship is the most of any newly-promoted player entering the Prem in 2019 (and a personal career-best). He also netted eight goals for good measure. His 91 key passes from last season could have him on pace for a similar type of season assist-wise, and he barely trailed Sheffield United’s Oiliver Norwood for most in the Championship last year. Their return to the Premier League will be rough, but Buendia will be looking to prove himself in his first time in a top-flight league since 2015-16 in Spain.
46. Solomon Rondon, West Brom United
Rondon returns to West Brom after scoring 11 goals and tallying seven assists for a Newcastle United side that struggled at times in the Premiership. But they survived, and finished mid-table last season. His 11 goals with the Magpies in the 2018-19 campaign marked the first time that the Venezuelan striker reached the double-digit mark in league play since he arrived in the Premier League in 2015. After one of his best individual seasons since 2014 in Russia where he netted 13 goals, Rondon’s biggest question mark is if he can actually outdo himself in 2019.
45. Moussa Sissoko, Tottenham Hotspur
In a season nobody saw coming, Sissoko got his groove back and became one of the most effective central-midfielders in England and possibly Europe this season. He proved everyone who questioned him wrong and became a staple in manager Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI. Sissoko’s stock is on the rise and it’s easy to see him continue his hot streak with the Spurs when 2019 kicks off.
44. Conor Coady, Wolves
Coady started every match for the Wolves backline last season in his first year as a Premier League regular. He found a ton of success dropping back from his original center-midfielder position into centerback and turned every lesson he got from his old Liverpool days into becoming a rising star defender in England. Considering Coady has played just about every match for the Wolves since his arrival in 2015, it’s hard to see him regressing anytime soon, especially next year.
43. Jack Grealish, Aston Villa
The 23-year-old Grealish showed his value in the Championship last year and is looking to make an even bigger statement as Aston Villa returns to the top flight this year. Injuries held him to just 34 appearances, in which he scored six goals and tallied six assists; but he also led Aston Villa with 78 chances created, more than anyone else on the team last year. He could get off to a hot start as Aston Villa have relatively easy start to the season with just two opponents that finished in the top seven last year (Tottenham in Week 1 and Arsenal in Week 6) to open the campaign.
42. Conor Hourihane, Aston Villa
Where Grealish found the spotlight with his all-around play last year, Hourihane found the back of the net. The 28-year-old Irish midfielder netted eight goals –including an important goal in the promotion playoffs – and tallied 11 assists for an Aston Villa side that scored 82 goals in the Championship last year. Like Grealish, Hourihane could explode onto the goalscoring sheet early with Aston Villa’s relatively easy start to the 2019-20 season.
41. Wilfried Ndidi, Leicester City
Ndidi may get more attention if he played for a bigger club than the shocking one-time, underdog champion Leicester City. He was one of the best defensive mids last season, leading all EPL mids with 144 tackles and was third in interceptions with 83. At just 22, turning 23 in December, he can still improve many parts of his offensive game. After appearing in 33 matches in 2017-18, Ndidi started in every match for the Foxes last season, building consistency and reliability.
40. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton
Last year, Everton went as far as Sigurdsson went. When he was on, so was Everton. When he was off, well, so was Everton. Sigurdsson’s 13 goals in the Premier League last year tied Paul Pogba’s for most by any midfielder. He could face some competition from within; he turns 30 in September and the team may bring in a younger midfielder to either play with or play over him. Sigurdsson’s 13-goal season was also his first double-digit campaign since he scored 11 in 2015-16, then for Swansea.
39. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
In the 2017-18 season, Wilfried Zaha was Crystal Palace. He could take a bit of a break last year, though. With breakout seasons by guys like Andros Townsend, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Luka Milijovevic, Zaha was still productive, despite taking less of the offensive load on his shoulders. He recorded the first double-digit scoring season of his career last year and marked his third-career 10-assist season. He’s continued to raise his stock since arriving at Crystal Palace in 2014 and that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.
38. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester United
The 21-year-old right back was Crystal Palace’s best player this season, dominating on the pitch, helping set up the attack and, defensively, locking down his area out wide. He made a name for himself in just seven starts, earning a five-year deal with Manchester United this summer. If England wasn’t already stacked at full-back, Wan-Bissaka would’ve already capped with the Three Lions; even though there’s still time for England to make that move, DR Congo may come calling sooner than later. Like many of the young players who took to the pitch in England on much fuller roles this season, he will be a player to watch for in 2019.
37. Diogo Jota, Wolves
Diogo Jota might be a bigger star if he played for a larger club than Wolverhampton. The 22-year-old returned from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid and dropped 10 goals in all competitions for the Wolves last year. He started the season slow, waiting until December to score his first Premier League goal. But once he was moved from the wing to the No. 9 spot, he began to score in bunches, posting a hat-trick in his debut at center forward against Leicester City. Now that he has his place on the pitch set at the No. 9, we’ll have to see if he can progress there, or if last year was just a fluke.
36. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
The “Jamie Vardy party” was relatively quiet last season, despite Vardy pouring in 18 goals with four assists. He hasn’t come close to that magical, Premier League winning 2015-16 campaign where he scored a career-high 24 goals with eight assists. The question is, can he keep up the pace he’s set of around 20 goals a season?
35. Christian Eriksen, Tottenham Hotspur
Despite having a subpar season by his standards, Eriksen still played a role in guiding the Spurs Champions League Final run. Along with his eight goals, he “only” tallied 12 assists in the Premier League this season, tied for third with City’s Raheem Sterling, and three behind now-former Chelsea star Eden Hazard for most in the league. Look for Eriksen to rebound from a down year when 2019 kicks off.
34. Callum Wilson, Bournemouth
Wilson had the most productive season of his career with Bournemouth so far last year, reaching double digits in goals (14) and assists (10) after clawing back from a torn ACL just a year earlier. Where a torn knee could end a forward’s career, Wilson got better, especially adding in the new passing element to his game last season. How he builds on this season will have to be seen. Wilson’s reached the 20-goal mark just twice in his career, but both times were in the lower divisions in Championship and League One. He’s never recorded back-to-back double-digit scoring seasons in his career and the 14 he netted last year was a career-best for him in the Premier League.
33. Victor Lindelof, Manchester United
Like most at Manchester United, once Jose Mourinho left, Lindelof got better. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Lindelof was right back into his World Cup form, a key part of a defensive backline that earned 11 clean sheets last season while switching between a back three and back four. Expect Lindelof and all of Manchester United to continue to build forward in the first full season under Solskjaer in 2019.
32. James Maddison, Leicester City
In his first year in the top flight, the 22-year-old Maddison immediately became a staple in the Foxes’ midfield, and the sky became the limit. He scored seven goals and assists in his first year with Leicester and was the only player in the Premier League to create 100 goal-scoring opportunities.Like the rest of the youth coming up in the Premier League, Maddison’s growth will be watched closely in 2019, especially if he can build on his seven-goal performance from last season. He’s reached double-digits once in his career, in 2017-19 with Norwich City in the Championship, netting 14, and given the opportunity, could reach double digits for the first time in his Premier League career next year.
31. Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur
Alli’s value was proven to the Spurs when he wasn’t on the pitch. Leg injuries kept him out for long spurts throughout the season, forcing him to miss five of his first 10 matches of the campaign; he then missed seven of 10 matches between the end of January and April with a thigh strain and subsequently a fractured hand. However, he still managed to produce when he was playing last year, tallying five goals with three assists. Those aren’t anywhere near his normal numbers, and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll be putting up big numbers once more when healthy. Is 2019 Alli’s comeback season? We’ll see.