With the 2016/17 A-League season finishing last week, it’s time to discuss who were the very best players in the competition. With that in mind, here’s our list of the top 10 A-League players through the campaign just gone.
10=: Paul Izzo (Central Coast Mariners, goalkeeper)
A star in the making and potentially the man who will occupy the Socceroos No.1 jersey for years to come, Izzo was excellent in a poor Central Coast side this season.
He saved nearly three quarters of the shots sent his way, and impressed with his agility and desire, despite his side leaking plenty of goals. Still only 22, Izzo was named Central Coast’s Player of the Year.
— #CCMFC (@CCMariners) May 12, 2017
10=: Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City, forward)
Since joining Melbourne City in 2015 this Uruguayan marksman has scored an incredible 42 goals in 56 appearances. Strong on the ball and measured with his pass, he tended to save his best work for the attacking third of the field.
Scored 17 goals, converting eight times from the penalty spot, nailing 63 per cent of his chances on goal. He was also a menace in the box, earning three penalties across the campaign.
9: Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory, midfielder)
The little All Whites’ magician marked a successful return to the A-League, following a stint playing in Europe, by setting up 11 goals and creating 52 chances across the season for the Melbourne Victory.
He was first-equal for assists, but easily the best in terms of output per game, while he scored plenty of them as well, netting 12 goals to finish seventh in the competition. Arguably the toughest player in the A-League to defend one-on-one.
— 1:NIL (@OneNilMedia) May 7, 2017
8: Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC, defender)
Sydney FC leaked only 12 goals in 27 regular season matches, and Wilkinson can take a lot of the credit for the incredible record. The veteran central defender was a calm presence at the back and proved to be extremely accurate in his defensive decisions.
Wilkinson won 89 per cent of the challenges he went into and had 145 clearances for the champions. Considering his position on the field and some of the situations he found himself in, the 32-year-old Socceroo showed good discipline to commit only 16 fouls.
7: James Troisi (Melbourne Victory, midfield)
The perfect man to support the stellar attacking act at the Melbourne Victory, Troisi was dynamic on the ball and more often than not picked out the right option to give his teammates the best chance of finding the back of the net.
Finished the season sitting in the top 10 for assists (six), shots (75) and crosses (139), and set up 50 chances, helping his main striker, Besart Berisha, to the Golden Boot. So good was Troisi’s form in 2016/17, he earned a recall to the Socceroos squad after an eight-year absence from the Australian national side.
6: Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar, forward)
Shared the Golden Boot Award with Berisha in scoring 20 goals, but did it without the stellar supporting cast available to many of his fellow strikers. Maclaren was at times the only legitimate striking option for the Brisbane Roar, reflected by the fact that Brisbane’s next highest scorer netted only five times.
Maclaren picked up the A-League’s Young Player of the Year Award for the second straight season.
5: Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC, defender)
A leading figure in the A-League’s best defensive unit, Grant was accurate in his challenges, winning 63 tackles and missing his assignment in 50-50 contests on the ground only 23 per cent of the time.
A former Australian representative at both U-20 and U-23 level, Grant found new levels through this campaign, combining a physical approach with excellent reading of the game which saw him come up with 105 interceptions.
@Maddi_Gill love the comment during MCVvNEW game re Sydney FC defending “Rhyan Grant chases people till they’re out of the stadium”
— Christina Gill (@Chrissie_Gill) March 18, 2017
4: Diego Castro (Perth Glory, midfielder)
Diego Castro proved he could do it all in season 2016/17, terrorising opposing sides with his ability to bamboozle defenders with passing and footwork, while also banging in 13 goals for the Perth Glory.
When he wasn’t scoring them, he was typically setting them up for someone else, with seven assists and a competition-high 70 chances created. Lethal down the edges of the field, he whipped in 159 crosses and struck up a potent combination with Glory’s marquee striker Andy Keogh.
3: Danny Vukovic (Sydney FC, goalkeeper)
He played 42 hours of football in season 2016/17 and leaked just 13 goals. Vukovic enjoyed the best season of his career and helped Sydney FC to achieve a new record for the most clean sheets in a single campaign.
Heading into the Grand Final the 32-year-old had saved 86 per cent of the shots that came his way, making 75 stops, before he came up with the decisive play in the penalty shootout, correctly guessing the direction of Marco Rojas’ shot to brilliantly block it and set his side up for victory.
— Brendin Lo (@blotography) May 8, 2017
2: Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory, forward)
Another year spent getting under the skin of opposing players and getting the ball into the back of the old onion bag, no player scored more than Berisha’s 21 goals across the season, having finished equal first for goals scored in the regular season before netting in the decider.
Not only prolific, he did it off only 59 shots at goal. For context, the competition’s next highest scorer, Jamie Maclaren, used 81 shots to score 20 times. Berisha made his debut for the Kosovo national side in 2017 and wowed A-League fans with his incredible skill.
— Kosovan Football🇽🇰 (@kosovanfooty) April 30, 2017
1: Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC, midfielder)
There is no greater individual honour in sport than being voted as the best by your peers. In winning the Johnny Warren Medal for this season Ninkovic ticked that one off, with the Serbian midfielder finishing the campaign having dominated several of the key statistical categories for his position.
He was tied with Rojas at the top of the assists chart with 11, while he set up 47 chances with his accurate play on the ball. His 1,271 successful passes were also enough to sit him in the A-League’s top 10. A classy presence who played a massive role in Sydney FC’s title-winning campaign.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 9, 2017