When your primary threats are obvious, secret weapons sometimes make all the difference…
Franck Ribery – Bayern Munich
Injuries have sadly limited the impact of Franck Ribery in recent seasons and others have taken over his mantle at Bayern Munich, but even at the age of 34 the veteran winger has been back to something like his former best in 2016/17.
He played more Bundesliga games than he has done since 2013 and finished the league with 11 assists, more than Arjen Robben (nine), Thiago Alcantara (five) and Douglas Costa (three).
Son Heung-min – Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane won a second successive Premier League Golden Boot this season, while Dele Alli was named PFA Young Player of the Year for the second straight campaign. But it was Son Heung-min who was the only individual to win Premier League Player of the Month twice.
The South Korean international is not the first star name one would look to as Tottenham’s biggest threat, but his consistent output produced an impressive 14 league goals and six assists. If the other two bigger stars don’t perform, Son is right there to get the job done.
Rafinha – Barcelona
Brother of Thiago Alcantara, Rafinha fully recovered from a serious knee injury suffered in 2015/16 to step up and become Barcelona’s first alternative in midfield this season.
The Brazilian international is not a regular starter, but his quality is such that he is capable of coming into the team in a variety of positions and still making an impact when called upon. He found himself on the La Liga scoresheet six times, as many as Andre Gomes and Arda Turan combined.
Fabinho – Monaco
It was a stroke of genius from Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim to move Fabinho from right-back into the centre of midfield, with the Brazilian shining in his new role as the principality club romped to a first French title since 2000.
The likes of teen sensation Kylian Mbappe, resurgent captain Radamel Falcao and midfielder creators Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar took most of the plaudits, but Fabinho’s contribution of nine goals and tough tackling was invaluable.
Raphael Guerreiro – Borussia Dortmund
Raphael Guerreiro has enjoyed a fine first season in Germany after joining Borussia Dortmund from Lorient in France last summer.
Most would expect Dortmund’s greatest attacking threat to come from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele and Marco Reus, but Euro 2016 winner Guerreiro has given Dortmund another huge option getting forward from left-back.
His six league goals, and a further three assists, actually made him the team’s joint third highest scorer for the campaign.
Leroy Sane – Manchester City
Leroy Sane could well be the future of Manchester City if he continues to perform the way he did over the second half of his debut season in England.
The German winger was eased into his new Premier League surroundings after a £37m summer move from Schalke and was able to settle at his own pace while others like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and the slightly older Raheem Sterling bore the brunt of the pressure and expectation at the Etihad Stadium.
Daniele Rugani – Juventus
Centre-back Daniele Rugani is the future at Juventus. Esteemed trio Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are all the wrong side of 30, with Barzagli in particular recently celebrating his 36th birthday.
The time for Rugani will be sooner rather than later, while on the occasions he has played this season, the 22-year-old has stepped in effortlessly. Juve conceded just six times in the 15 Serie A games (14 starts) Rugani played a part in en-route to another Scudetto.
Marcos Alonso – Chelsea
Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante were by far the most celebrated members of Chelsea’s Premier League winning side this season, but there is a very real chance the club might not have enjoyed such success without Marcos Alonso.
The specialised wing-back made Antonio Conte’s the 3-4-3 work. Chelsea had real problems before the tactical switch in October and Alonso’s ability to play the role, both defending and attacking, even scoring six league goals in the process, was the real key.
Isco – Real Madrid
For all the ‘Galacticos‘ at Real Madrid, Isco isn’t really one of them. And yet, the Spaniard, who was initially deemed surplus to requirements by Zinedine Zidane when he took over as coach, has become a huge part of the club’s success this season.
The 25-year-old midfielder is versatile, gives the team balance it might otherwise be lacking, and provided a flurry of vital goals and assists towards the end of the season that saw Real claim only a second La Liga title since 2008 and return to the Champions League final.