Mirror Football's Premier League team of 2022 as champions dominate

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Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are both in the team of 2022. (Image: Jon Super/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are both in the team of 2022. (Image: Jon Super/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

It is never easy to pick the team of a calendar year because it is open to recency bias with achievements from the opening six months, the previous season, less fresh in the memory.

And that is doubly true at the end of 2022 owing to the World Cup concluding less than a fortnight ago and some names who were hardly on the radar during 21/22 producing performances that will live long in the memory.

So with the risk of focusing too heavily on Qatar in mind, Mirror Football has selected its most impactful Premier League XI of the calendar year.

There was one self-imposed rule: do not pick a team that is so all-out attack it looks daft. In other words, at least one midfielder needs to be in a holding role. And that also happened to be a player who won the Champions League before taking on the mantle of transformative signing for his new club in the past couple of months.

Ederson

A toss up with compatriot Alisson but the Manchester City goalkeeper just gets the nod for winning the league while the Liverpool No1 was absent in the finals of their domestic cup wins.

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Kyle Walker

Reece James could easily have been included here if he had stayed fit and gone to the World Cup as England’s first-choice but Walker has had a fine year and it should not be forgotten in a hurry that he nullified Kylian Mbappe in that unfortunate quarter-final defeat in Qatar.

Virgil van Dijk

Despite Liverpool’s significant dip in results this season, he did enough in the first half of the calendar year to be worthy of a spot, supplemented by decent showings at the World Cup for Netherlands. He has also not been helped of late by the constant changes to the rest of his defence on Merseyside owing to injuries. Yet the statistics suggest any talk of his own performances dipping significantly is nonsense.

Ruben Dias

This would have been Antonio Rudiger but the fact he departed for Real Madrid in the summer weakened his case for inclusion. Cristian Romero, now a world champion, is deserving of a mention too. But let’s include Dias, such a composed figure in the central of a City defence that kept the joint-most clean sheets in 21/22.

Mirror Football's Premier League team of 2022 as champions dominateJoao Cancelo - the best attacking left back in the world? (Jose Luis Contreras/DAX via ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

Joao Cancelo

Is there a better attacking left back in the world? Had a difficult World Cup, finding himself dropped to the bench, but is so much more impactful for Manchester City and a vital part of their run to the league title in May.

Bernardo Silva

“Out of everyone I’ve played with, he is probably the best. The way his brain works is crazy,” Jack Grealish said of his City team-mate earlier this month. Somehow there is a sense that he remains underrated.

Casemiro

Has gone from being a crucial performer for Real as they won La Liga and another European Cup to an immediate success as part of Manchester United ’s rejuvenation project. With the likes of N’Golo Kante wilting from injuries, there is no better holding midfielder in the league.

Kevin De Bruyne

A poor World Cup could not sufficiently diminish the argument for inclusion here. Remains the primary cog to Man City’s machine.

Mirror Football's Premier League team of 2022 as champions dominateTalk of Salah's demise is premature. (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah

The Egyptian went through a relatively dry spell in spring and there was a peculiar train of thought that he was some way off his best to start this campaign. Except in all competitions for club and country he has already found the net 18 times.

Erling Haaland

With apologies to Harry Kane. The Norwegian’s scoring streak since arriving in Manchester is unlike anything seen before and should he maintain it for a lengthy period … well, Premier League defences may as well pack it in.

Bukayo Saka

Remember what we said about Rudiger a few hundred words ago? Consider the impact to Liverpool’s attack since Africa’s best footballer left for Bayern Munich and this could easily have been Sadio Mane’s spot. Instead the final place goes to Saka, who continues to get better every month and has become a central figure for both club and country.

Everton chiefs face transfer backlash from fans after deadline day disasterEverton chiefs face transfer backlash from fans after deadline day disaster

And Mirror Football’s worldwide team of 2022

Mirror Football's Premier League team of 2022 as champions dominateThibaut Courtois with the Champions League in May.

Thibaut Courtois

The Real Madrid goalkeeper had a disappointing World Cup but that was largely owing to the dismal efforts of the outfielders in Roberto Martinez’s squad. And his remarkable efforts in the Champions League final puts him ahead of the rest.

Achraf Hakimi

The World Cup’s best full back was a vital component to Morocco’s remarkable run to the semi-finals. He also won Ligue 1 at Paris Saint-Germain.

Josko Gvardiol

Expect there to be a bidding war for the Croatia centre back next summer. Many will point at Lionel Messi turning him inside out during the semi-finals earlier this month but aside from that one moment he was imperious. RB Leipzig will be moving on another gem for a significant profit.

Virgil van Dijk

Joao Cancelo

Luka Modric

Still going and still a joy to watch. Won the Champions League with Real Madrid before leading Croatia to another unlikely appearance in the latter stages of a consecutive World Cup.

Casemiro

Kevin De Bruyne

Mirror Football's Premier League team of 2022 as champions dominateLionel Messi kisses the World Cup. (Getty Images)


Lionel Messi

What is left to say about the greatest to have done it?

Erling Haaland

Kylian Mbappe

A hat-trick in the World Cup final, plus a converted penalty in the shootout. The best player on the planet right now - though many will be unwilling to say the baton has been passed while PSG team-mate Messi continues to play.

Alan Smith

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