Top 10 Most Improved Players of the 2015-16 Season

2015-16 was a crazy year for player improvement. We saw a whole team of Leicester City players go from below average Premier League players fighting for relegation in 2014-15 to becoming some of the very best players in the league in 2015-16. But it wasn’t just Leicester City’s players that improved over the course of the 2015-16 season, players all across Europe enhanced their skills and reached new heights by joining new teams, working on their games or changing their attitudes this season. These are the ten most improved players from Europe’s top five leagues this season.

10. Sofiane Boufal 

Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal had a breakthrough year with LOSC Lille in 2015-16, scoring 11 goals with 4 assists in 29 matches and becoming one of the best and most dangerous wingers in Ligue 1. The 22 year old also had the second most dribbles in the league, behind only Hatem Ben Arfa. This all came just a season after making his professional debut by scoring 3 goals with 6 assists in 14 Ligue 1 matches in 2014-15.

2014-15 Stats: 14 matches, 3 goals, 6 assists, 48 dribbles, 28 chances created
2015-16 Stats: 29 matches, 11 goals, 4 assists, 128 dribbles, 69 chances created

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: N/A

9. Mousa Dembele

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Mousa Dembele went from a player going nowhere fast in 2014-15 to one of the most impressive central midfielders in the Premier League in 2015-16. He spent most of the 2014-15 season coming off of the bench but then turned into one of Spurs’ most integral players in 2015-16, scoring 3 goals and making 105 tackles in just 29 matches. He gave Tottenham everything they needed to fight for the title in 2015-16 and they struggled massively in the nine games without him.

2014-15 Stats: 26 matches, 1 goal, 1 assist, 26 tackles, 36 dribbles
2015-16 Stats: 29 matches, 3 goals, 1 assist, 105 tackles, 84 dribbles

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 154

8. Kingsley Coman 

Kingsley Coman 1

19-year old Kingsley Coman went from a player barely getting any minutes for Juventus in 2014-15 to being one of Pep Guardiola’s favourite players in 2015-16. The French winger scored 4 goals with 6 assists in the league and added a further two goals with 5 assists in the UEFA Champions League to help Bayern make it to the semi finals in Europe.

2014-15 Stats: 14 matches, 0 goals, 2 assists, 12 shots, 20 dribbles
2015-16 Stats: 23 matches, 4 goals, 6 assists, 37 shots, 85 dribbles

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 172

7. Kasper Schmeichel 

Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel went from one of the bottom goalkeepers in the league fighting desperately to avoid relegation in 2014-15, to being right up there with the best in 2015-16 as he won the league, kept 15 clean sheets and made my Premier League Team of the Season.

2014-15 Stats: 24 matches, 6 clean sheets, 55 saves, 1.54 goals conceded per game
2015-16 Stats: 38 matches, 15 clean sheets, 80 saves, 0.95 goals conceded per game

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 164

6. Henrikh Mkhitaryan 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a season full of struggles in 2014-15 and was one of the main reasons why Borussia Dortmund were not performing to the level they were capable of. In 2015-16, he was far and away the best player in the Bundesliga and one of the very best players in all of Europe. Mkhitaryan scored 11 goals with 15 assists in 31 Bundesliga matches to pick up the player of the year award, scored 5 goals in 6 matches as Dortmund made it to the finals of the DFB Pokal Cup, and helped the German club make it to the quarter finals of the Europa League by scoring 2 goals with 5 assists in 11 matches. He was absolutely phenomenal in 2015-16 and was one of the very best players in all of Europe this season.

2014-15 Stats: 28 matches, 3 goals, 4 assists, 73 dribbles, 45 chances created
2015-16 Stats: 31 matches, 11 goals, 15 assists, 81 dribbles, 82 chances created

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: 122
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 18

5. Jan Oblak 

ATLETICO 15/16 ATHLETIC 15/16

Jan Oblak wasn’t even Atletico Madrid’s starting goalkeeper in 2014-15. Then in 2015-16 he became the most dominant goalkeeper in not only La Liga but the UEFA Champions League as well, putting up some fantastic displays against some of the world’s best teams and establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The Slovenian goalkeeper kept an astonishing 24 clean sheets in 38 league matches conceding just 0.47 goals per game. Oblak also kept 8 clean sheets in 13 UEFA Champions League matches, conceding just 0.62 goals per game, the second best behind Keylor Navas in both categories. His 24 clean sheets in La Liga was 8 more than second place Claudio Bravo’s 16 and his 0.47 goals conceded per game was the best in the league by far as well.

2014-15 Stats: 11 matches, 7 clean sheets, 17 saves, 0.55 goals conceded per game
2015-16 Stats: 38 matches, 24 clean sheets, 63 saves, 0.47 goals conceded per game

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 96

4. Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater 2

Danny Drinkwater wasn’t even a regular starter in Leicester City’s 2014-15 side as they fought to stay in the Premier League. Then in 2015-16, he turned into one of the best midfielders in the league and narrowly missed out on PFA Team of the Year appearance as Leicester won the title and Danny himself scored 2 goals with 7 assists in 35 Premier League matches. He then earned himself a call-up to England’s Euro 2016 squad, something he probably would have never even imagined happening.

2014-15 Stats: 23 matches, 0 goals, 0 assists, 53 tackles, 943 passes
2015-16 Stats: 35 matches, 2 goals, 7 assists, 105 tackles, 1985 passes

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 168

3. Hatem Ben Arfa 

Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa was so incredible in 2015-16 that he’s even attracted interest from FC Barcelona. After going from a peripheral bench player for Newcastle United in 2014-15 to one of the best players in Ligue 1 in 2015-16, he looks to be back on top of his game and could even make France’s Euro 2016 squad. Ben Arfa scored 17 goals with 6 assists in 34 league matches, making the team of the year and helping OGC Nice finish in 4th place.

2014-15: 27 matches, 3 goals, 3 assists, 65 dribbles, 46 shots
2015-16: 34 matches, 17 goals, 6 assists, 153 dribbles, 92 shots

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 183

2. Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy 4

Jamie Vardy went from a player barely scoring goals in a team fighting against relegation to breaking the all-time Premier League record for scoring in consecutive matches. Vardy was on fire from September to November as he scored 13 goals in 11 consecutive matches, breaking Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record. He would go on to finish the season with 24 goals and 6 assists in 36 matches, finishing second in scoring and winning the FWA Player of the Year and Barclays Premier League Player of the Year awards while also earning himself a new found role in England’s National squad as a starting striker.

2014-15: 34 matches, 5 goals, 8 assists, 48 shots, 35 chances created
2015-16: 36 matches, 24 goals, 6 assists, 115 shots, 46 chances created

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 58

1. Riyad Mahrez 

Riyad Mahrez TOTS

Riyad Mahrez went from a below-average Premier League midfielder scoring 4 goals with 3 assists in 30 matches in 2014-15, to becoming the best player in the league, scoring 17 goals with 11 assists in 37 matches. Mahrez was Leicester’s most crucial player in their title winning season and picked up individual honours such as the PFA Player of the Year and Premier League Fans’ Player of the Year while in the process becoming one of Europe’s very best players.

2014-15: 29 matches, 4 goals, 3 assists, 42 tackles, 78 dribbles, 44 chances created
2015-16: 37 matches, 17 goals, 11 assists, 52 tackles, 130 dribbles, 67 chances created

2014-15 Top 200 Ranking: N/A
2015-16 Top 200 Ranking: 49


So there it is! The top 10 most improved footballers in Europe’s top 5 leagues in the 2015-16 season! Who’s missing? Comment below!

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