For a period of 48 hours in April, English football was rocked by a simultaneous announcement from the 'big six' clubs in the Premier League.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham stunned fans, players and pretty much every person associated with football when they declared they would be helping to found the breakaway European Super League.
Thankfully, with such strong opposition from all quarters of the English game, the proposal was quickly ditched and the six clubs, one by one, were forced to grovel for forgiveness. In all seriousness, it showed just how easily greed can dictate the English game.
There were some amusing moments: Wolves declared themselves 2018/19 Premier League champions by default having finished seventh that year.
Meanwhile, Leicester City could have added another title to their league cabinet if the clubs had gone through with it. Alas, they remain outside the Champions League places.
But the idea got us at Star Sport thinking about what the team of the season would look like without players from the Super League rebels.
Head this way to find out who made the cut…
GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
It looked as if Arsenal had pulled off a shrewd piece of business when they flogged Martinez, their second-choice goalkeeper, to Aston Villa for £20 million.
One season and 15 clean sheets later, however, the Gunners are the ones with a feeling of regret.
The Argentinian has had the best season of his career by some distance, producing a series of incredible performances for the Midlands outfit. Villa have
If the 28-year-old can maintain this level of performance going into the next campaign, he will surely be a target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
RB: Vladimir Coufal (West Ham)
David Moyes must take credit, along with his recruitment team, for snapping up Coufal for just £5m last summer.
The Czech slotted into the team with consummate ease, following Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague, and the 28-year-old has been a consistent performer at right-back as the Hammers pushed for Europe.
Not only has he played his part in helping keep eight clean sheets, Coufal has contributed six assists — a total only bettered by Trent Alexander Arnold, Andy Robertson, Lucas Digne and Aaron Cresswell.
CB: Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)
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A contender for signing of the season, it is remarkable to think the French defender is only in his third season as a professional.
The central defender was signed for a hefty fee from St Etienne but has more than repaid the faith shown in him by Brendan Rodgers.
Fofana’s display in the FA Cup final, which Leicester won 1-0 against Chelsea, showed his maturity spanned way beyond his 20 years. The Foxes will be hoping to hang onto him for a while yet.
CB: Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
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It seems England fans will be seeing more of Mings this summer as he is in contention to be named in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad.
The 28-year-old has developed into an assured defender in possession and, while he prone to the odd mistake, the centre-back is a true leader.
He has been a key member of Dean Smith’s side this season and even if their form has fallen away somewhat in the second half of the season, his impressive performances have stood out.
LB: Timothy Castagne (Leicester)
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Replacing Ben Chilwell was never going to be a simple task for Rodgers. But when the opportunity to sign Castagne from Atalanta for £21.5m arose, he wisely got out his chequebook.
The Belgium international is an energetic presence who can play either side as a full-back or wing-back. In addition to his defensive work, he has been force in attacking areas with two goals and three assists in 26 appearances.
Castagne may have been forced into Leicester’s back three due to injuries to defensive personnel, which has affected their overall performance. But given he is only 25, it is frightening to think he can still improve.
CM: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
Southgate caused some eyebrows to raise when, last season, he called up Phillips to the England squad. A year later, those who questioned the decision have quietened somewhat.
It’s not an easy job protecting the back four in a team as fluid as Leeds, but the 25-year-old puts him a stellar shift every game and his understated work is recognised by Marcelo Bielsa.
It is certainly no surprise to see that Leeds have not lost any of the last seven games he has featured in — a run that includes wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, as well as draws with Liverpool and Manchester United.
CM: Declan Rice (West Ham)
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With Mark Noble announcing his intention to retire at the end of the 2021/22, Rice has shown he is worthy of taking on the role of West Ham’s captain.
The 22-year-old has been at the centre of the Hammers march up the Premier League standings. Tireless, resilient and humble, the midfielder’s
Given his ability, age and homegrown status, it will be no surprise to anyone if the ‘big six’ clubs scrap over his signature this summer, and he would be worth every penny of the rumoured £70m fee.
CAM: Matheus Pereira (West Brom)
West Brom may not be playing in the Premier League next season but there is a decent chance Pereira will be.
The Baggies could not avoid the drop under Sam Allardyce but their playmaker Pereira at least gave them a fighting chance. His return of 11 goals and six assists in 33 games is actually better than that of Sadio Mane or Raheem Sterling.
The Brazilian would represent a cut-price option for any Premier League looking to add more class and goals to their side and it seems inevitable he will leave the Hawthorns this summer.
CAM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
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An outstanding player who simply loves to entertain, dancing around defenders and slicing open backlines with perfectly-weighted passes.
Grealish has been a leading light for Villa this season and it is no coincidence their dip in form arrived shortly after he was ruled out through injury for two months.
England are blessed in the attacking midfield department, but it would be a great shame if the 25-year-old was not included in Southgate’s 26-man squad at the Euros.
ST: Patrick Bamford (Leeds United)
Critics say he is too “posh” to be a footballer, but Bamford has let his football do the talking.
The 26-year-old is the most influential English attacker not called Harry Kane in the Premier League with 16 goals and seven assists, and he has led from the front with an equal measure of grit and elegance.
Add in his incredible work rate and there aren't many better strikers in the top flight at present.
ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
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It looks as though Calvert-Lewin will be heading to the Euros at the expense of Bamford, but the 24-year-old offers a new dimension.
The Everton striker has also notched 16 goals, but holding play up as a target man, there are few better players in aerial duals in the entire division. His goals and deadly partnership with Richarlison have fired Everton to within touching distance of European football.
While he has endured a mini goal drought towards the end of the campaign, his clinical touch in front of goal shows he can be an vital asset at both club and international level.
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