Premier League Player of the Season 2023-24 power rankings: Phil Foden the man to beat as Man City magician stakes Ballon d'Or claim


Erling Haaand won the prize in 2022-23, but the Manchester City star hasn't quite reached the same heights, and could relinquish his crown

The 2023-24 Premier League season is now edging towards a dramatic finale, with Manchester City not having things all their own way in their pursuit of a record-breaking fourth consecutive title. Erling Haaland is once again leading the way in the goalscoring stakes, which makes him a favourite to defend his Premier League Player of the Season crown from 2022-23, but City are forming part of the chasing pack after 30 games.

Liverpool have emerged as pacesetters under Jurgen Klopp again, after seeing some smart transfer business pay off handsomely, and Arsenal are right on their coattails as they seek to go one better than last season's second-placed finish. Unai Emery's Aston Villa, meanwhile, are going to toe-to-toe with Ange Postecoglou's new-look Tottenham for fourth place and Champions League qualification.

A number of summer signings have become vital players at their new clubs, while certain players have benefitted from a managerial change or improved injury situation to rediscover their best form or reach an even higher level. And with the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle and Chelsea still struggling for consistency, more than a few surprise contenders for Haaland's throne have emerged.

GOAL has rated the best performers so far to figure out who should be the frontrunners for the 2023-24 Premier League Player of the Season award as the finishing line approaches...

Previous update: February 19, 2024.

16 Julian Alvarez (Manchester City) ⬇️

Alvarez managed 17 goals in just 23 starts for City last term, but his contribution for the treble-winners ultimately went under the radar because of Haaland's record-breaking exploits.

This season, the dynamic has been different, with Alvarez often playing in a central position behind Haaland, and the role change has reaped immediate rewards. The Argentine has weighed in with eight goals and eight assists, and admirably stepped up to shoulder the creative burden in the team when Kevin De Bruyne was out injured.

Alvarez has still been starting regularly since De Bruyne's return, which shows just how highly he is valued by Pep Guardiola. It should come as little surprise, really, given Alvarez served as Lionel Messi's right-hand man at the 2022 World Cup - and the 24-year-old will hope to have a decisive impact as City make a final push to win their sixth title under Guardiola.

15 Jarrod Bowen (West Ham) ⬆️

West Ham are no longer riding the wave of their 2022-23 Europa Conference League success, but they are still in the mix for a top-seven finish under David Moyes.

A lot of the credit must go to Bowen, who scored the winner in their now famous final victory over Fiorentina last May, as he's improved his finishing to help the Hammers become one of the most effective counter-attacking sides in the Premier League.

The 27-year-old is already up to 15 Premier League goals this season, nine more than he managed in the whole of last term, and has managed to set up another five as the focal point in the Hammers' attack. Bowen has forced his way into the England squad as a result, and could start attracting interest from top clubs if he continues on his current trajectory.

14 Darwin Nunez (Liverpool) ⬇️

Nunez struggled to adapt to the pace of English football in his debut year at Anfield, but has gradually transformed into Liverpool's master of chaos, and opposition defences are having a torrid time trying to keep him at bay. A haul of 18 goal contributions from 28 Premier League appearances proves that Nunez has added end product to his game, even if he doesn't always make the right decision in the final third.

It's very difficult to predict what Nunez will do when he gets a sight of goal, which is part of the reason he is so thrilling to watch, and it's frightening to think how much potential he still has left to unlock at the age of 24.

Liverpool fans have taken Nunez into their hearts because of his fearless, explosive style of play, and his razor-sharp instincts could end up giving Klopp's side the edge in the final title run-in.

13 Ruben Dias (Manchester City) ⬆️

City are still among the best defensive sides in England, which is mainly down to the presence of Dias, who is one of the few players in Guardiola's line-up that doesn't seem to be at risk of rotation. The Portuguese is a master defender with superb positional sense and excellent technical qualities, and always takes on a leading role in his partnerships with Manuel Akanji, Josko Gvardiol and Nathan Ake.

John Stones' continued struggles with injury have robbed Dias of his main right-hand man, and he had his share of setbacks earlier in the season, but it's impossible to keep such a smooth operator down for long.

If City are to make more history come May, Diaz will be front and centre once again as the general in Guardiola's ranks.

12 Son Heung-min (Tottenham) ⬇️

There was a lot of pressure on Son to deliver for Spurs this season. After Harry Kane's departure to Bayern Munich, the South Korean became the main man in the team, which was further underlined by Ange Postecoglou's decision to hand him the captaincy.

By his own admission, the 2022-23 campaign was Son's most disappointing in a Tottenham shirt to date. However, the 31-year-old has shown he still has plenty left in the tank while swapping between his usual position on the left and a central striker role this term.

Son has hit 15 goals, including a vital late efforts against Crystal Palace and Luton in March, showing once again that he is peerless when it comes to the art of finishing, and Postecoglou will need him to keep sprinkling his magic if the north London outfit are to regain a place in the Champions League.

11 Rodri (Manchester City) ⬇️

Rodri's status as the best defensive midfielder in Europe is unquestionable. The Spaniard was the driving force behind City's run to the treble, and even scored the winner in the Champions League final. The 27-year-old looks as motivated as ever in 2023-24 too, with his tenacity and energy setting the tone for City amid their pursuit of even more silverware.

Guardiola initially brought in Rodri as a successor to Fernandinho, but he must now be classed as a huge upgrade on the Brazilian. The former Atletico Madrid man has no flaws in his game and City suffer when he is absent, as illustrated when Guardiola's side slumped to back-to-back defeats against Wolves and Arsenal in October without their star midfielder.

City need Rodri to maintain discipline so that they are not hampered by any further suspensions, especially given the fact he is also making such an important contribution going forward. Rodri has hit seven Premier League goals in 2023-24, with his latest superb strike setting City on their way to a vital win at Aston Villa, and he can always be relied upon to seize the initiative in the tightest matches.

10 Martin Odegaard (Arsenal) 🌟

"The way he behaves himself in front of the group and the standards that he sets are outstanding," Mikel Arteta said after Martin Odegaard's Man-of-the-Match performance for Arsenal against Luton on April 3. "He's a really important player. We needed that balance. Martin is vital to connect everything in the way we play."

Odegaard hit his seventh Premier League goal of the season in that 2-0 home victory, and looks determined to carry the Gunners to their first title in 20 years. The Norwegian never made the grade at Real Madrid, but they must now be rueing their decision to give up on him so soon, as he's proven himself as one of the best playmakers in Europe at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal know they can rely on Odegaard to take the ball under pressure and make things happen, while he also makes a vital contribution with his work rate out of possession, setting a shining example for his team-mates. At just 25 years of age, there is still plenty of potential left for Odegaard to unlock, too, and he will fancy his chances of going on to become a Gunners legend.

9 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) 🌟

So many people wrote Virgil van Dijk off after a dismal 2022-23 season, but he's shown that class is permanent over the past nine months, rolling back the years to lead Klopp's new crop of "mentality monsters".

There isn't a more complete defender in the game than Van Dijk when he's firing on all cylinders, and that has been the case every time he's taken to the pitch this term, as he's dominated in one-on-one duels and won everything in the air while setting the tone for Liverpool's attacks with his composure and quality on the ball.

Klopp's shock decision to step down as head coach at the end of the season only seemed to give Van Dijk another injection of motivation, as evidenced by his stunning performance in the Reds' Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea, which he capped by heading in the winning goal.

The Dutchman is now doing everything in his power to make sure Klopp signs off with a second Premier League crown, and this season could end up being classed as the best of the 32-year-old's entire Anfield career if he can keep up his outstanding level of performance.

8 Cole Palmer (Chelsea) ⬆️

Palmer made the brave decision to leave Man City last summer in search of regular minutes, and has since proven to be the bargain of the season for Chelsea at £42.5 million ($54m). The 21-year-old has been the biggest bright spark throughout another frustrating campaign for the Blues, showing maturity and composure belying his tender age while taking on a leading role in Mauricio Pochettino's set-up.

The Argentine has deployed Palmer in a number of different positions, and he's risen to the challenge each time, with his elegance on the ball adding a new dimension to Chelsea's attack. Palmer can execute a defence-splitting pass from anywhere on the pitch and has a real eye for goal, which has earned him senior recognition for England.

Chelsea still have a long way to go before they can challenge the elite again, but they have one of the most exciting talents in Europe on their hands in Palmer, and it will be fascinating to see how he continues to develop in the coming months at Stamford Bridge.

7 William Saliba (Arsenal) ↔️

Arsenal are back within sight of the Premier League summit, and this time they may just have the staying power, with Saliba providing a rock solid base in the heart of the defence. The Frenchman was in the treatment room for the business end of the 2022-23 campaign and the Gunners fell apart in his absence, but he has returned in better shape than ever before.

Arteta's side have the best defensive record in the division so far this term, which is largely thanks to Saliba's immense displays. The 23-year-old is a master when it comes to timing tackles and has the cool head to help Arsenal turn defence to attack within the blink of an eye.

The Gunners are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to knock City off their perch, but no one is more important to the collective cause than Saliba, who must be wrapped in cotton wool between matches.

6 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) ⬇️

Saka deservedly scooped the 2022-23 PFA Young Player of the Year award after spearheading Arsenal's surprise title charge, and may just be in with a shout of landing the senior prize this time around, having made another huge stride forward under Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners have paced themselves far better this season, and seem to be hitting top gear at just the right time, with Saka proving to be the difference-maker at the top end of the pitch once again. The 22-year-old can score from any angle and has the creative qualities to open up defences at will, which is why he has already posted 21 goal contributions this term.

Arteta is now having to manage Saka's minutes more effectively due to burnout concerns, but he will continue to be Arsenal's most important player in the biggest games, as he blocks out the critics who claim he is still not "world-class". If Saka can fire the Gunners to the Premier League trophy, that debate will be closed once and for all.

5 Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) ⬇️

Watkins has been Villa's main source of goals since his arrival at the club in 2020, and bagged 15 during the club's run to a top-seven finish last season, but he is now taking his game to new heights under Emery.

The 28-year-old is already up to 16 goals this term, five of which he registered across Villa's three successive wins against Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Luton, while he's also managed to lay on another 10 for his team-mates, catching the eye of England boss Gareth Southgate in the process.

Villa have fallen off the pace at the top of table, which was always a likely scenario given their lack of squad depth, but they are still very much in the battle for a top-four finish thanks to Watkins' ruthlessness. And if the Villa talisman can keep delivering the goods, he will surely book a seat on the plane to Germany with his country this summer.

4 Erling Haaland (Manchester City) ⬇️

Haaland is on course to win a second successive Golden Boot with 18 league goals to his name in the current campaign, despite being absent in December and January due to injury, though the 23-year-old has only managed to find the net four times in nine appearances since his return.

More and more questions are being asked over Haaland's lack of involvement in general play, with Manchester United legend Roy Keane claiming he "looked like a League Two player" during City's recent 0-0 draw with Arsenal. It is certainly fair to say that the Norway international needs to work on the technical side of his game, but as Guardiola has pointed out, he's still the best striker in the world.

Even when he's on the periphery of games, Haaland will still get chances because of his intelligent movement and natural intuition in and around the box. He's also a strong character who doesn't let negative comments bring him down and instead uses them as fuel, which is why City's rivals would be foolish to let their guard down at such a crucial stage of the season.

Haaland remains the most deadly weapon in Guardiola's arsenal, and after a much-needed rest against Villa, he is poised to unleash his full power.

3 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) ⬇️

Salah's status as a Liverpool legend has long been secured, and he proved his loyalty to the club beyond all reasonable doubt when Al-Ittihad came calling in the summer window. A lucrative move to Saudi Arabia was on the table, but Salah stayed put, and has since shown his unique value to Klopp's side once again.

Liverpool have picked up 70 points from a possible 90 to emerge as the main challengers for City's crown, with Salah recording 16 goals and nine assists along the way. The 31-year-old looks as dangerous as ever, and will be backing himself to beat Haaland to the Golden Boot.

Salah's main focus, however, will be locked on winning a second Premier League winners' medal - which would cement his status among the greatest players to ever grace English football. An unfortunate AFCON injury halted Salah's momentum, but he's now starting to build up a rhythm again, which is bad news for City and Arsenal.

There is a general sense that something special is happening at Anfield, with Klopp eyeing a glorious end to his nine-year reign, and if anyone can push them over the line, it's Salah.

2 Declan Rice (Arsenal) ⬇️

Arsenal's club-record £105m ($131m) signing, Rice has been at instant hit since swapping West Ham for the bright lights at the Emirates Stadium, having opted for a move across London instead of joining up with Guardiola's winning machine at City.

Rice is already the first name on Arteta's team-sheet, and endeared himself to supporters with a crucial late goal for the Gunners that set them on their way to a home win over Manchester United in August.

The 25-year-old is unmatched when it comes to ball recoveries and interceptions, but he also carries a real threat going forward - as evidenced by his stunning long-range efforts against Chelsea and West Ham. The England international also showed off his dead ball expertise in the 6-0 demolition of his former club at the London Stadium as he notched two assists, having been appointed Arsenal's new permanent corner-taker at the turn of the year.

Rice's willingness to embrace extra responsibility is what really makes him special, and his infectious energy has lifted Arsenal to another level. Winning a first Premier League crown since 2003-04 no longer feels like a pipedream for the Gunners because they have the best all-round midfielder in the country leading their charge.

1 Phil Foden (Manchester City) ⬆️

City have been blessed with a host of creative geniuses during the Guardiola era, but Foden is well on his way to eclipsing all of them. At just 23, he already looks like a complete player, and is now the one City turn to to open games up with his agility and speed of thought in possession.

Foden has 14 Premier League goals to his name already this season, his best-ever total, and there could be plenty more to come if he stays fit. The England man has become the most feared member of an all-star City team and looks unstoppable right now, with his latest stellar showing coming in the 4-1 win over Villa, which saw him net his second hat-trick of the season. It's no exaggeration to say his presence alone could be the deciding factor as the champions aim to seal another Premier League crown.

England's status as favourites for the Euros also has a lot to do with Foden, who sits in the world-class bracket already and has all the attributes to go on and become one of the greatest players of his generation - with the 2024 Ballon d'Or now firmly within his sights.

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