Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Europe’s Best 10 Players of 2016 (10-6): The Best Series

In the second edition of this annual feature, we at Outside of the Boot aim to unearth the best performing footballers from each of the 5 primary Confederations. Rebranded as ‘The Best Series’, we champion football’s top individuals based on performances in the past calendar year.


31 // Croatia // Real Madrid

For me, you can keep the likes of Iniesta, Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio etc etc. Luka Modric, in my opinion, is the best centre midfielder in the world. The Croatian sensation continued with another impressive year at Real Madrid, winning another trophy.

Fitness has always been an issue for the former Tottenham talisman, however, 2016 has been a year that we’ve been gifted many more opportunities to watch Modric.

Although the statistics of goals and assists (2 goals, 1 assist) for the second half of the 2015/16 season aren’t mind-blowing, Modric is not in the side for these reasons.

Modric provided Real Madrid the industrial feel in a Los Blancos side lacking a class defensive-midfielder, however, also provided an offensive incisiveness which the likes of the BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo) can feed off during every 90 minutes.

Modric helped an impressive Croatia side top their Euro 2016 group, which included a very impressive 2-1 win over reigning champions Spain. Unfortunately though, Croatia faltered against the ‘would-be champions’ Portugal – losing 1-0 in extra time.

Modric has featured in just over half of Real’s matches this season, a knee injury meant the Croat missed 4 league games and 2 Champions League games and has scored 1 goal so far.

If he can remain fit, he will be imperative to Los Blancos’ hopes of achieving multiple titles this year.

Written by Tom Canton


29 // England // Leicester

It is almost impossible to speak of Leicester City winning the 2015/16 Premier League without mentioning Jamie Vardy, whose “Roy of the Rovers” rise has mirrored that of Leicester. A season that started with Vardy clinching the Premier League record of most consecutive matches (11) scored in ended with an impressive haul – Premier League winners’ medal, Premier League Player of the Season, Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and a place in the Premier League PFA Team of the Year. His electric pace and relentless hunger to excel, allied to a cold ruthlessness in front of goal, resulted in 24 goals and 8 assists in 36 PL games in 2015/16 – tied with Sergio Aguero and just 1 behind top scorer Harry Kane. To go from a £1m signing from non-league football to an England international and Premier League winner is the most unlikely of success stories. He might even have a film made about him. Ladies and gentlemen – Jamie Vardy.

Written by Mark Ooi


29 // France // Tottenham Hotspur

Frenchman Hugo Lloris had a stunning year for both club and country, both of which ended in disappointment for the 29-year-old.

Lloris captained Spurs in an incredible title challenge from the Londoners that saw them eventually conceding defeat to Leicester City before falling behind local rivals Arsenal on the last day of the season. The ex-Lyon man also captained his country at the European Championship, as the hosts impressed from the opening game before falling short to unlikely champions, Portugal.

But while the footballing world was left amazed at both Leicester City and Portugal’s triumphs in 2016, it were sides captained by Lloris that a subset of followers would consider unlucky to have fallen short. Efficient from the get go and controlled by an impressive Lloris, both Spurs and France were commended for their impressive defences. With the added responsibility of captaincy, Lloris has ensured his performances haven’t dipped as the Frenchman continues to be one of the best goalkeepers in World football.

The second half of 2016 showed similar efficiency from Lloris, with Spurs’ defence once again impressing viewers; and while the keeper had some of his finest games in Europe’s premier competition, Spurs were disappointingly knocked out in the group stage. Little blame attached to Lloris though, who continues to lead his side – fighting and battling to remain among the best.

Written by Sami Faizullah


27 // Wales // Real Madrid

The completion of Gareth Bale’s 2015/16 campaign marked the Welshman’s most successful league season so far at Los Blancos. The Real Madrid winger finished with 19 goals in just 23 league games, during a season plagued with injury. Bale also provided the assist for Sergio Ramos’ header in the Champions League final to set the team on their way to an 11th Champions League triumph.

Bale interspersed his domestic success with an unbelievable run with Wales to the European Championship semi-finals. Bale scored in each of their group matches but couldn’t notch in the knock-out rounds.

Bale’s luck with injury this season has been much improved up until very recently. Bale started 11 of the first 12 matches; missing the away win at Espanyol with a hip problem. However, he suffered an ankle injury that, after surgery, could keep him out of the side for up to 3 months.

Whilst Bale has scored in just 3 matches this season scoring 5 goals, his contribution to the team has been recognised to a much greater extent. So much so Real rewarded the Welshman with a new long-term contract keeping him in the Spanish capital until at least 2022. Although, with Ronaldo signing his own long-term deal, it appears Bale still has a few more years before he becomes Los Blancos’ primary talisman.

Written by Tom Canton


25 // France // Chelsea & Leicester City

With the underdog story still one of the classics in sport, it came as little surprise when Leicester City’s title charge captured the imagination of the masses. It might have been the Mahrez-Vardy show up top but the rest of  the pitch belonged to N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman’s boundless energy was key to Leicester’s whole being greater than the sum of its parts and meant that the Champions could exert control even without having the ball. His constant hassling of the opponents often lead to turnovers in possession, followed more often than not by a swift counter-attack.

The close season saw Chelsea come calling and Kante traded in the blue of Leicester for that of Chelsea. Before that though was a small matter of the European Championship to be held in France. Kante and company had to lick their wounds after falling agonizingly short but the Frenchman had work to do with his new employers. The 25-year-old took his time to get started but has gone from strength to strength, as has the side in recent weeks. Chelsea look real title contenders and it would come as little surprise if Kante was to make it 2 out of 2 in his time in England..

Written by Arnab Ray

The Best Series 2016 | Past Winners | 5-1 →


Talent Radar

As the end of the season beckons across Europe, in some form, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize...


While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it with a tinge of...

Bengaluru FC

Arnab Ray explores being a supporter of a team in a league that he doesn’t particularly like and how it seems like the battle...


Tom Robinson looks at a promising new generation of central defenders coming through the ranks for Argentina as the Albiceleste is enjoying something of...


Is Germany Ready to cope with the pressure of the world’s collective eyes on them? What does this mean for the fans of the...


Richard Pike writes in detail about what the modified football calendar for this season, and the next might look like, and what it teaches...

How to Play Like

Charles Onwuakpa analyses Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, and how one can pick-up the traits exhibited by him. “Thiago or nothing.” – Pep Guardiola This...


Vishal Patel asks if the current COVID-19 driven crisis signals a fundamental change in the relationship fans share with the game. With the COVID-19...

Young Players

Tom Robinson profiles 10 young players to watch out for in the Uruguayan Primera Division. Uruguay’s ability to punch above its weight in terms...

Bengaluru FC

Arnab Ray looks back at the key events of the Indian Super League game that finished Bengaluru FC 2-1 FC Goa The first ISL...

You May Also Like


While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it with a tinge of...


Miles Olusina writes about Maurizio Sarri and the approach he is likely to take at Chelsea. Despite a successful 2016/17 campaign which saw Chelsea...


Aamer Aslam writes about what we can expect from European Champions Real Madrid after the arrival of Julen Lopetegui On June 12, 2018, just...

Scout Report

Jordan McElderry provides a scout report which analyses France and Stuttgart’s promising young defender, Benjamin Pavard In recent years, France has produced a remarkable...

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this