Unibet Football and Basketball expert, Magnus Barstad

As the start of the 2022/23 campaign is here I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and do one of the harder tasks in football, complete a Premier League top 50. For those who have followed my work I have been doing this for the NBA for a number of years now. Before the Playoffs start every year I publish the top 50 players. After pondering doing the same in the Prem for quite some time now, I decided to give it a go.

Needless to say this was a difficult task. As I started buckling down about two weeks ago I thought, “50.. Well, I can get creative and get some juicy picks in there. 50 leaves me a lot of room”. But the more I worked on it, the harder it got. The quality of players in the Premier League as of 2022 is simply outstanding. As far as I am concerned it is by far the best domestic league in the world.

I was afraid that the shortened summer break because of the World Cup would not have me mentally recharged and ready for another season, early August. One thing really going through the teams and dissecting the top tier talent does? It makes you more ready for the season than you can imagine. I am juiced up!

City and Liverpool finished last season with an incredible 93 and 92 points. The season went down to the last game. Can anyone challenge the powerhouses this season? Chelsea have lost Rudiger, Lukaku and Christensen – but bought Cucurella, Koulibaly and are still bidding actively for the likes of Wesley Fofana as the season starts. Can they close the 19 point gap? Have they done enough? Spurs under Conte really impressed me in the last half of the season. He killed it in Jan transfer window, getting Bentancur and Kulusevski. For me Spurs might be the biggest transfer winners once again this summer as they are looking to improve their 4th place finish. Bissouma, Perisic and Richarlison are huge additions to an already competent team. Manchester United hope to turn it around under one of the best and brightest managers in the world. Personally I think he will need a season to turn that squad into a team. It’s not just learning how to play the “Ten Haag way”, but he also has the rough task of  literally uniting United once again. Arsenal have splashed on Gabriel Jesus, Zinchenko, a new Vieira and the Brazilian starlet Marquinhos. With a young and talented squad that showed us in flashes last season that they can compete with the best, playing some wonderful stuff – how will they develop this season? How much of a step forward can Arteta’s team take?

After the top six that seems set in stone there is an almost historic strong pool of teams fighting to get into Europe next season. Rodgers Leicester, newly minted Newcastle, Gerrards Villa and the Moyes Boys of East London all have very competent football teams with some top tier talent. 

My method: How I go about selecting
Imagine the Premier League starts this weekend. You have an empty team. Not a single player in your squad. You are competing for one season. You don’t have to think about shirt sales or popularity. Nor future development or decline past this one Premier League season. Your team is empty, close your eyes. Who is the first player you chose? When that player is chosen. You do the same exercise all over again. Your team is empty, you can choose any player in the league (apart from the one that is already taken), close your eyes, who do you choose?

Doing this exercise of course means a lot more than just closing your eyes. You have to prepare, deep diving into the players stats, their last season(s), knowing all there is to know about their game, their role and by that shaping an opinion on how you think they will perform.

What I really rate about doing it this way is it keeps the opinions and the research open. You of course lean on last season and how it shaped out, but the stats and awards of May and June are not a foregone conclusion. You have to lean on your own opinions, how you see and analyse the game as well as the stats and the history.

When doing a top 50, you only have one guarantee  – that you are a moron. Half the people reading the list will not read this text and how I go about selecting so the comments will pop off about ‘what he performed last season vs where I have him’ etc.. Always does.

And with that, here it is. My top 50 players for the Premier League 2022/23

  1. Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
  2. Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City
  3. Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool
  4. Harry Kane – Tottenham
  5. Son Hueng-min – Tottenham
  6. Erling Braut Haaland – Manchester City
  7. Joao Cancelo – Manchester City
  8. Fabinho – Liverpool
  9. Reece James – Chelsea
  10. Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
  11. Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
  12. Bernardo Silva – Manchester City
  13. Alisson Becker – Liverpool
  14. Ruben Dias – Manchester City
  15. Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
  16. Mason Mount – Chelsea
  17. Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool
  18. Declan Rice – West Ham
  19. Rodri – Manchester City
  20. Phil Foden – Manchester City
  21. Raheem Sterling – Chelsea
  22. Diogo Jota – Liverpool
  23. Ngolo Kante – Chelsea
  24. Martin Ødegaard – Arsenal
  25. Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

For me there are a couple of tiers to the first half of this list. First and foremost I have had all three of Salah, KDB and VVD as #1 at some point. I was leaning Salah more often than not. After consulting with a group of piers (whose opinion I trust and value) Salah ended up at the top spot. We all concurred. Then the next group for me was Kane, Son and Haaland. Yes, I am Norwegian, and yes I know the history of good Bundesliga strikers in the Prem. Still, I really, really don’t think that will be an issue with the blond haired monster from Jæren. In my humble opinion he is a talent that exceeds time and space.

One thing that makes the top 50 really challenging after this is how dominant City and Liverpool have been this era, and how dominant I once again think they will be. I have tried to find a line of measuring the talent of those squads with the rest of the league. But there is no hiding that it’s difficult. Could Madisson be higher on this list if he played for City? Could a player like Fofana break into the top 25 if he was paired with Dias og Van Dijk? How would Zaha look on the wing next to Haaland? I have no doubt that a player like Ruben Neves could slide into one of the top teams and look right at home within the first game.

26. Kyle Walker – Manchester City
27. Dejan Kulusevski – Tottenham
28. Kai Havertz – Chelsea
29. Andy Robertson – Liverpool
30. Jarrod Bowen – West Ham
31. Ederson – Manchester City
32. Jack Grealish – Manchester City
33. Darwin Nunez – Liverpool
34. Kalidou Koulibaly – Chelsea
35. Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
36. Jorginho – Chelsea
37. Ilkay Gundogan – Manchester City
38. Christian Romero – Tottenham
39. Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
40. Luiz Diaz – Liverpool
41. Marc Cucurella – Chelsea
42. Youri Tielemans – Leicester
43. Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal
44. James Madison – Leicester
45. Jaden Sancho – Manchester United
46. Ivan Perisic – Tottenham
47. Thiago Silva – Chelsea
48. Ruben Neves – Wolves
49. Richarlison – Tottenham
50. Sven Botman – Newcastle

Next 10 (not by order): Eriksen, Matip, Firmino, Fofana, Coutinho, Varane, Partey, Mendy, Guiamares

Team with most players in the top 50: Manchester City (12)
Teams without a player (9): Brighton, Brentford, Villa, Everton, Leeds, Southampton, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forrest, Fulham