Ranking the best 15 players in the 2021/22 Champions League so far

Champions League (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
Champions League (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Luka Modric
Real Madrid, Luka Modric (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

9. Luka Modric

If you need a personification of the expression “age is just a number,” go no farther than Luka Modric, who is accomplishing precisely that right now. Real Madrid’s number ten is one of the top players in his club, and he has been such for numerous seasons. The Croatian is a blessing for Los Blancos after being labeled as the worst signing of any La Liga team during his early days at Real, oh my, how the tables have turned.

He has played a vital role at Real Madrid with iconic teammates Toni Kroos and Casemiro, and the impact he has on the team’s collective gameplay is palpable. In his unusual absence, the midfield’s anguish has no bounds. The quality of his creations deteriorates to the point that he must be subbed in and perform his magic even on his days off.

It need not be mentioned how big of a hand Luka Modric had in Real’s iconic comeback against Paris Saint Germain and this was only one game where he did what he does on every Champions League night. The tactical maturity, adaptability, and eye for spaces Luka holds are far away from matching with any other midfielder in the world.

His contribution to the squad is as good aesthetically as it is numerically, and there is no way Modric falls short of ranking as the tournament’s ninth-best player this season.

8. Joao Cancelo

One of Juventus’ biggest regrets in recent seasons was to let Joao Cancelo go for Manchester City, owing to his creative qualities despite being a defender, which Juventus sorely misses these days. The Portuguese is a wizard with the ball, and aside from defending, he has refined and improved his ability to create chances for his team throughout his time in England. Having secured a place in PFA Team of the Year for the first time in 2021, Cancelo knows what it takes to be a responsible defender and an astute creator.

The word flexible was just made for Cancelo because of his versatility to play literally anywhere the manager wants him to. Most of his career has seen him play as a right-back but after a move to Manchester, he was often seen to be donning positions like left-back and even a winger.

The player’s command over the ball enables him to dribble past opponents when under pressure and also while in an attacking progression. His confidence with either foot is just another addition to a hundred other adaptive abilities he has mastered.

His Champions League stats are worth bragging about. With two goals and three assists already on his account, the Portuguese full-back has scored or assisted in practically every UCL game this season. Furthermore, 21 tackles, interceptions, and clearances is a respectable total for a defender who has also stopped 46 per cent of all dribbles that have come his way.