The 2021-22 football season has begun with a bang, with action heating up in Europe’s top five leagues. The season-opening transfer window was without a doubt the most exciting in recent memory. Several players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Romelu Lukaku, Raphael Varane, and others, have completed moves to new clubs this summer.
Ronaldo asserted himself once more at Manchester United, most recently scoring a brace in the Red Devils’ 2-2 draw with Atalanta. Messi and Jadon Sancho, on the other hand, have struggled at their new clubs. On that note, five world-class attackers are currently out of shape.
Number 5: Jadon Sancho
Manchester United’s long search for a right-winger ended with the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for £76.50 million.
During his four-year tenure at Signal Iduna Park, the young Englishman established himself as one of the best operators in his position. He also had previous experience in English football with Manchester City’s youth system, and his arrival at Old Trafford was met with high expectations.
The 21-year-old has struggled to make an impact at his new club. He has failed to score a goal in 12 appearances across all competitions and has mostly played from the bench in recent games. Sancho has appeared as a substitute six times this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has recently implemented tactical changes to address Manchester United’s leaky defense, including the use of five defenders at the back. This effectively removes the right-winger from the game, and we may see even less of the talented youngster in the coming months.
Number 4: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard left Stamford Bridge as one of the best forwards in modern football, but he has been a shell of his former self at Real Madrid.
Injuries haven’t helped the Belgian either, as he’s been sidelined for most of his Real Madrid career. However, the 30-year-old has been relatively injury-free this season, appearing in 10 games for Los Blancos in all competitions.
Despite picking up an assist in his first game of the season, Hazard has yet to make a significant impact.
The Belgium captain has been benched in several of Real Madrid’s key games this season, including the most recent El Clasico. Five of his nine appearances in La Liga have come off the bench.
Hazard has now fallen behind Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo, and Marco Asensio in the pecking order.
Number 3: Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku has struggled in recent games after scoring on his homecoming debut in a London derby against Arsenal. The Belgium international scored four goals across all competitions in his first four appearances since his return.
Lukaku hasn’t scored a goal in seven appearances since, and he’s only had one assist in that time. Last season, the 28-year-old dominated the Italian league, propelling Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years. However, he has not established a name for himself in English football.
Lukaku remains one of the most dangerous forwards in the world right now, with an excellent eye for goal. Due to an ankle injury, he has been sidelined for the past few weeks.
Number 2: Harry Kane
During the summer transfer window, the England captain was heavily linked with a move to the Etihad. Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy reportedly forced him to stay put.
Harry Kane is highly regarded for his professionalism for club and country, but he has made only a few appearances for Tottenham this season. The Englishman appears largely uninterested in the field and has made no contributions in the final third. His recent outing against Manchester United was a case in point, as he only managed one shot against the Red Devils’ shaky defense.
Kane has made 14 appearances across all competitions since missing Tottenham Hotspur’s season opener against Manchester City in the ongoing Premier League season. In those appearances, he scored seven goals and provided one assist.
This season, Kane has scored three times in the UEFA Conference League and twice in the Europa Conference League qualifying stages.
Number 1: Lionel Messi
After a heartbreaking saga in which Lionel Messi left Barcelona after 21 years, the Argentine superstar began his new journey in Paris.
Thousands of PSG fans greeted the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at Paris-Le Bourget Airport before he was officially unveiled. Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe might be the world’s deadliest offensive three.
Except for a 2-0 win over Manchester City, the attacking trio hasn’t troubled defenders. Lionel Messi has struggled to start well in Paris. The 34-year-old has made five appearances in the 2021-22 Ligue 1 season but has yet to score in the league. His best performances, however, have come this season in the Champions League. So far, he has three goals in three appearances in the competition.
Messi scored his first goal for PSG in a 2-0 win over Manchester City, then added two more goals in a thrilling 3-2 win over RB Leipzig.