Rüdiger or Gündogan, who was the best German abroad this season? How did Werner and Havertz do? We've conducted a ranking, grading the overall performance of each German player in Europe's top leagues throughout the year.
There are a couple of surprises in the ranking, with each rating based on playing time, role within the team, the expectations put on each player, and performances.
Antonio Rüdiger, Chelsea
•Season Rating: 8.5
•Established himself as one of the world’s best centre-backs
•Going to fight for a starting place at Real Madrid.
The newly-signed Real Madrid player completed a marvelous last season in London, perhaps the best of his career.
Rüdiger solidified himself in the conversation of best centre-backs in the world; his high passing accuracy combined with his defensive strength made him one of the best Chelsea players this season – if not the best.
Playing in 54 matches as an undisputed starter with the blues, Rüdiger scored five times while only being booked in 15 games with no sending-offs despite his physical style of play.
His ability to read the spaces and close them has reached new levels this season, as well as his on-ball defense and concentration.
But the trait that stands out in the centre-back’s season is the sense of security the German brings to the pitch, his personality both defensively and offensively left its mark in each game.
Defensively, Rüdiger showed this season he’s been able to turn himself into an all-around defender; feeling comfortable stepping up to press the opponent’s attacking player, maintaining his focus and minimizing errors, as well as feeling comfortable going 1v1.
Ilkay Gündogan, Manchester City
•Season Rating: 8.1
•43 matches, 8 goals, 6 assists
The midfielder finished the season in the best way possible, coming in as a substitute and completely turning around City’s title-defining match against Aston Villa.
During the season, Gündogan performed mostly as a starter, although he did come off the bench during some of the later stages of the season.
The midfielder had a great influence on City’s game and their successful season, immaculately managing the construction phase and making his trademark runs into the channels, finishing the play in the box.
Die Mannschaft’s starting midfielder also shared the double 6 at times with Rodri, performing well and combining in a great manner with the Spaniard.
Gündogan’s season was great in all aspects, maintaining a very high level constantly during the season and being a key piece in one of world football’s greatest teams.
His future is still on hold, but his level is better than ever.
Pascal Groß, Brighton & Hove Albion
•Season rating: 7.7
•33 matches across all competitions
•Key in Graham Potter’s Brighton
The midfielder, who recently renewed his contract, had a great season with one of the Premier League’s most interesting teams.
Despite his goal and assist tally not being very impressive, with just two goals and five assists, Groß was highly remarkable in terms of his performances and influence within the team.
The midfielder from Mannheim showcased his versatility and all-around game by playing in several positions. Groß performed as center/holding midfielder, attacking midfielder, wide midfielder, and even as a wing-back, filling up Graham Potter’s tactical necessities.
His defensive work rate added to his superb hit of the ball, and his vision made him one of Brighton’s key players this season, as he was in charge of launching the ball forward to set up the team’s lighting quick counterattacks and direct the attacks against set defenses by adding fluidity to the passing combinations.
Toni Kroos, Real Madrid
•Season Rating: 7.6
•Not an enormous season for his standards, but still a solid one
•44 games, 3 goals, 3 assists
Toni Kroos finished up the season amazingly by playing the 90 minutes of the UEFA Champions League final in his team’s victory.
Despite being criticized throughout the season, sometimes even labeled as out of shape or too old for the physicality of today’s game, Kroos proved his haters wrong by keeping his place as a starter for the La Liga and Champions League winners.
Kroos did suffer during some spells in a couple of matches, but not more than any other player whose traits did not fit certain situations.
The former Bayern player keeps contributing to Madrid’s success, maneuvering the team’s build-up play while being key in some of the most important fixtures of the season.
Kevin Volland, AS Monaco
•Season Rating: 7.5
•15 goals and nine assists
Volland completed a marvelous season with Monaco as the second most important player in his team, just behind his partner in crime Wissam Ben-Yedder.
Seven of his nine assists were actually to Ben-Yedder, showing the connection between the two.
Playing next to the Frenchman, Volland acted as the second striker, dropping down more to act as another option on the build-up; trying to link with Ben-Yedder or other attacking players as fast as possible, pushing the play most of the time with long passes or through balls.
Despite this role, he showed he is still a noticeable marksman by bagging 15 goals, with all of his goals in Ligue 1 coming from inside the penalty box.
Kai Havertz, Chelsea
•Season Rating: 7.5
•46 Matches, 14 goals with his club
•Starter for most of the season, but not indispensable
The 23 year-old player rounded off a pretty good second season at Stamford Bridge, but he still hasn’t been able to reach the level expected with his signing.
He had good numbers – 14 goals, 5 assists – and performed better than his numbers show.
He played with more personality and intensity than in his first year, also being a lot more influential on Chelsea’s offensive and defensive game, pushing the offensive play while trying to be decisive and always giving a huge defensive effort in the pressing.
The mix of Havertz’s skills and traits with Tuchel’s system might be one of the reasons the former Leverkusen wonderkid has not reached the level expected, as even Tuchel himself said in an interview that he still is not sure what position suits Havertz the best.
Despite this, he completed a solid season playing all around the attack either as a centre- forward or as one of the attacking midfielders, reaching a very good level with his passes and understanding in terms of filling and attacking the spaces.
His numbers with the ball are also interesting, as he highly ranked in terms of progressive passes and progressive dribbles, meaning he is always trying to make something happen.
Vitaly Janelt, Brentford
•Season Rating: 7.3
•Breakthrough season for the midfielder
•34 Matches, 4 goals
The 24-year-old performed solidly throughout the season in Thomas Frank’s scheme.
Janelt played well on the left side of the midfield trio, evolving into a good box-to-box midfielder.
He was accurate with the ball all season long while acting as the more physical link in midfield, reaching both areas well and trying to be decisive in each one.
His determination and strength also paid dividends, as he won a good amount of aerial duels.
Defensively, Janelt had a good season, especially tackling and being a force in the 1vs1 situations.
If he can keep this level while improving his offensive traits, another standout season will come for the former Bochum player next season.
Mario Götze, PSV
•51 Games, 11 goals, 7 assists
The former BVB player had a good season under Roger Schmidt, being the creative piece in the German coach’s lineup.
Götze played all season in his preferred role as an attacking midfielder, having the freedom to roam all around the pitch.
He helped with the build-up play at times, but his position was usually higher, linking directly with the strikers; Götze also dictated much of his team’s offensive tempo.
A good season for the experienced midfielder – it is nice to see him recover after his struggles with injuries.
Alexander Nübel, AS Monaco
•Season Rating 7.1
The German keeper had a good season, playing nearly every game and keeping himself healthy while performing at a solid level.
The Bayern Munchen loanee made some great saves during the season, maintaining very constant performances, although he did make some mistakes from time to time.
He showcased his good reflexes and ability to save hard shots, but needs to improve his blocking, as some of his blocks ended up in dangerous zones, his accuracy with his passes is relatively low, although most of them were long passes for aerial duels.
Julian Weigl, Benfica
•Season Rating: 7.1
•39 games, undisputed starter
The defensive midfielder served as the anchor in what was a strange season for Benfica, dropping in between the centre-backs or into one of the sides when attacking.
Weigl was superb with the ball and controlling the pace and direction of the build-up phase.
The downside of a season where he played almost all games was on the defensive end, as he was not giving the sense of security defensively that a holding midfielder should give.
A decent season for him, not a highlighting season, but his team’s dynamic did not help either.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, FC Barcelona
•Season Rating: 7.0
•15 clean sheets, 57 goals conceded
Die Mannschaft’s number two keeper had an irregular season, mixing great performances where he saved his club with others where he had a fair share of responsibility for goals.
Ter Stegen was heavily criticized during some months of the season during his up and downs, but Barcelona’s dynamic did not help either.
Timo Werner, Chelsea
•Season Rating: 6.8
•36 matches, 11 goals, and three assists
•Battled for the starting spot throughout the season, still has not achieved his best form.
The always criticized Werner concluded another complex season in London; the former RB Leipzig player traded some starts with stages on the bench during the season, but was able to put similar numbers and performances to those of the last year playing fewer matches.
The arrival of Romelu Lukaku saw Werner’s minutes significantly decrease at the beginning of the season, but the poor form of the Belgian and the versatility and work off the ball shown by the German earned him a place in the rotation.
Despite being fairly criticized due to the low amount of chances converted, Werner’s performances have been good besides the goal tally.
With his defensive work, his runs attacking the back of the defense to generate spaces, and his ability to hold the ball give air to Chelsea when being pressed, Werner gives a lot of things that go under the radar.
However, the critiques took a toll on Werner, as with every miss he seemed a bit rattled.
He’s got all the tools to make it work, he just has to tune in his finishing and take his chances, as a forward scoring goals will be the only way to hush the haters.
Tilo Kehrer, PSG
•Season Rating: 6.8
•32 matches, ok season
Kehrer was a part of PSG’s rotation throughout the season, starting strong by playing the first matches of the season as a centre-back.
The German performed well, but slipped to a rotation role as the stars returned to the squad, playing most of the games for the rest of the season as Hakimi’s substitute at right-back.
As Mauricio Pochettino’s squad started to fall off from the Champions League and the French Cup, Kehrer’s opportunities decreased, being used as a substitute in the last 15 minutes instead.
The German performed well when he had the chance, but did not have a standout season whatsoever.
Ismail Jakobs, AS Monaco
•Season Rating: 6.8
•37 games, most as substitute
•Evolved from a left-back/wingback into a wide midfielder.
Jakobs pushed himself into Phillip Clement’s rotation; during the first half of the season, the young German suffered in the battle with Caio Henrique for the left-back starting spot, as some great performances by the Brazilian sidelined Jakobs.
However, since the start of the second phase of the season, Jakobs became a regular substitute, usually coming on as a wide midfielder after the hour mark to use his pace and intensity.
Phillip Clement’s adjustment helped Jakobs, as enjoying more minutes meant his form went up. He still has a lot of things to improve, but it was a move in the right direction for the former Köln player.
Philipp Max, PSV
•47 matches, 3 assists, and 5 yellow cards
•Regular season for the left-back
Max did not enjoy his best season. He was a regular starter and ran up and down the wing well throughout the season, but his performances were not fully consistent.
Offensively, the ex-Augsburg player constantly reached the goal line and worked well with PSV’s wingers, but his effectiveness crossing the ball was not the best, and he was not as influential on the game as in other seasons.
Defensively he struggled a bit, also due to his usual higher position on the pitch as it makes his trackback longer and he doesn’t have the engine to make it.
Koray Günter, Hellas Verona
•Season Rating: 6.6
•31 matches, 10 Yellow cards
•Solid season as a starter
The centre-back completed his third season at Verona, continuing to perform as a solid starter for Igor Tudor’s squad.
Günter played as the anchor of the three defender line and was a force in the aerial duels, showing good skills to intercept and block the ball, although suffering a bit when he had to make runs to close the spaces or a bit more complex attacking situations.
His physical prowess at times hurts him, as he chained three matches getting booked early in the first half and was substituted at half-time or even earlier.
Nadiem Amiri, Genoa
•Season Rating: 6.5
•Great intensity and will
•Did what he could to avoid Genoa’s relegation.
Amiri’s loan spell at Genoa did not end as he would have wished; the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was relegated to the Serie B with the historic club.
Amiri acted more as a second centre-forward than as a midfielder, especially while defending.
He showed great intensity in each match and tried to push and carry Genoa’s offensive game, but he was usually isolated during the offensive transitions.
One assist in 15 matches at Genoa.
Jerome Boateng, Lyon
•Season Rating: 6.3
The veteran centre-back did not enjoy his first season out of Bayern; a bit of an irregular first and seemly last spell at Lyon where he began as a starter, but lost his place due to his irregular second half of the season.
Boateng excelled with his passes, but suffered a lot defensively, as he was slow during the season, failing to anticipate plays and players and not being decisive in the 1-vs-1-situations.
Rumors of him moving to the Turkish league have appeared during the last week.
Robin Koch, Leeds
•Season Rating 6.3
Koch’s season did not start well, as he was injured for the first months of the season; upon his return in January, his performances were in line with Leeds’s almost disastrous season.
During Marcelo Bielsa’s last months as coach, Koch came in and out of the three-man defense, performing well with the ball but, showing significant weaknesses on the defensive side, losing focus and looking soft in most duels.
With the arrival of Jesse Marsch, Koch entered as a starter centere-back in the American coach’s four-man defense before finishing the season as a right-back.
Koch’s performances improved as well as the team’s dynamic changed, but it was not a good ending to the season either.
Julian Draxler, PSG
•Season Rating: 6.2
•23 games, just seven as a starter
•Irrelevant during the season
Draxler continues to fall during his time at Paris, not much of the once wonderkid that broke through the Bundesliga.
Pochettino did not count with the midfielder, who starting just 5 Ligue 1 matches, and who was barely used as a substitute or anywhere in the rotation.
In the few matches he played, he was not determined to make a mark, lacking the intensity required at times.
His talent is still there. Hopefully he can return to his best level somewhere else.
Robin Gosens, Atalanta/Inter
•Season Rating: 6.2
•Just 17 games, 3 goals and 1 assist.
Robin Gosens suffered one of his worst seasons ever, struggling with a hamstring injury during the first half of the season, which added to his transfer rumors and certainly took a heavy toll on the left-back’s season.
Practically out injured during his last half season with Atalanta, he could not break through Simone Inzaghi’s starting eleven after his move to Inter; Ivan Perisic's world class level mixed with Gosens’ lack of competitive rhythm meant the German did not hold a chance.
On top of that, David Raum’s incredible performances at Hoffenheim saw Gosens lose his spot in the German national team too.
Hopefully, he can jump back to his EURO 2020 form and battle with Raum. Perisic’s transfer to Tottenham might open the door for the starting left-back spot, with Inter still awaiting Filip Kostic’s decision.
Bernd Leno, Arsenal
•Season Rating: 6.1
•Clear second choice for Mikel Arteta
The 30-year-old must be pressing his agent to find him a club to play for next year if he wants to compete for a place in the WC squad.
The keeper barely had any chance to play, besides a couple of cup matches he only had minutes when Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t fit enough.
He looked ok in the few matches he played, making a couple of highlight saves, but Mikel Arteta’s confidence in him did not show any differences, as the Spanish coach thinks Ramsdale fits better into his system.