Another calendar year of Premier League football is almost over and so this is a great time to name our top-flight team of the year for 2016.
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Summer arrivals from overseas have obviously made a big impact this season, for instance Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but as this is a 2016 team we have opted to stick with players who have operated in the Premier League throughout the last 12 months.
Goalkeeper – HUGO LLORIS
Thibaut Courtois, David De Gea and Kasper Schmeichel were other contenders but Lloris has been the most consistent shot-stopper during 2016, while he also captained France to the European Championship final.
Right-back – HECTOR BELLERIN
Almost certainly the quickest and now probably the best player in his position in the Premier League, the young Spaniard recently delighted Arsenal fans by signing a new contract to ward off reported interest from Barcelona and Manchester City.
Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur (right) in UEFA Champions League action against CSKA Moscow (Getty Images)
Left-back – DANNY ROSE
An honourable mention must go to Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels here, but Rose has bloomed above several other contenders to establish himself as first-choice left-back in Gareth Southgate’s England team.
Centre-halves – VIRGIL VAN DIJK and GARY CAHILL
Van Dijk is the ‘fashionable’ name among defenders for he is being linked with a £50million transfer to a bigger club than Southampton, which is down to his terrific performances in 2016.
Cahill is perhaps a controversial choice given how Chelsea struggled last season, but he has bounced right back to form as the bedrock of the Blues’ three-man defence which has kept 11 clean sheets in their first 18 league games this time around.
Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur (left) in action during the UEFA Champions League match against Monaco (Getty Images)
Central midfielders – N’GOLO KANTE and DELE ALLI
Kante is a no-brainer, seen as the key man in Leicester’s astonishing title success and now odds-on to claim a second winner’s medal in as many seasons with his new club Chelsea.
Alli progressed in 2016 from being an exciting youngster in his first top-flight season to a pivotal figure in the England set-up and, in this team, would dovetail perfectly with the Frenchman.
Wingers – SADIO MANE and RIYAD MAHREZ
An extremely competitive area and we could have included other Liverpool players in Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, but Mane’s goals just earn him the nod.
Mahrez has so far failed to reproduce last season’s exploits in the league, but has taken well to European football and was instrumental for champions Leicester between January and May.
Strikers – JAMIE VARDY and JERMAIN DEFOE
Again, with Vardy it’s all about what he did in the first half of the year, but a recent hat-trick that sunk Manchester City showed he can still produce the goods.
Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez could also have been included seamlessly, but veteran Defoe’s goals dug Sunderland out of trouble last season and he continues to box above his weight in a mediocre team.