For the third successive year, Outside of the Boot recognises the individuals who stood above & beyond the rest in their respective leagues. With Europe’s top five leagues the focus of our End of Season Awards, we pick out the best players across their respective positions, the best manager, the exceptional Talent Radar young player, and of course the sole man standing above the rest.
Each individual award (like every previous season) has been decided by a combined vote of our readers, and the editorial team on this website.
Thomas Tuchel was handed a struggling Dortmund side that seemed to have everything work against them in their last season with Jurgen Klopp. The 42-year-old German took over the side in the summer of last year and had a noticeable impact from the pre-season. Despite landing second place in the Bundesliga, Tuchel managed to guide the side to what was one of their best league campaign ever, holding the best offensive record and second best defensive record. Tuchel has managed to preserve the essence of Klopp’s Dortmund that put them on the map in recent years by holding on to much of the inherited squad and managed to make them up their game.
Pep Guardiola who won the Bundesliga for a third successive season, making him the first non-German coach to win in three times. He missed out on the this award last season to Lucien Favre who led his impressive Borussia Mönchengladbach side to a Champions League finish. It’s his replacement this season, André Schubert, who helped recover the side from a poor start under Favre, and confirm another Champions League spot that finishes in third place.
Manuel Neuer’s career reached new heights this past season, keeping twenty-one clean sheets in the league out of a possible thirty-four. Bayern also boasts of the best defensive record in the league with just seventeen goals conceded, much credit due to the German international who made sure the number stayed that low. Individually, the 30-year-old was appointed captain for several of the league games which is a step in the right direction for a player who looks like he is going to be at the club for a long time.
Manuel Neuer regained this particular crown for a third successive season as he continues to redefine the goalkeeping position. Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno and Augsburg’s Marwin Hitz completed the top three.
Many had written off Mat Hummels as being done after he spent a lengthy amount of time on the sidelines over the past couple of seasons, but the German international looked inspired under Tuchel this season, featuring for the club in thirty league matches and played an instrumental part in Dortmund conceding just thirty-four goals during the course of the league. While many of Dortmund’s goals have been crafted meticulously by their attacking players, Hummels has played a role on several occasions in picking out key passes and opening up the field of play from the back.
Hummels’ win ends a run of Bayern dominance in the defensive department as Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng were the previous two recipients of this award. Neither of them featured in our top three either this season as Hummels fought off competition from Jonas Hector and Jöel Matip to take the crown.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s role in Dortmund’s revival this season ought to be given more credit that it has received so far. The Armenian featured in thirty-one league games this season and managed to score ten goals and contribute twenty assists (one short of De Bruyne’s record). The 27-year-old kept up his exquisite form in other competitions as well, ending his season with twenty-three goals and thirty-two assists. Mkhitaryan’s quantitative and qualitative contribution in this proportion, with such levels of consistency involved over the entire season has left him with high standards to surpass.
This award remains one that has stayed off Bayern’s clutches for three seasons now. Marco Reus and Kevin De Bruyne were the previous recipients, while Mkhitaryan competed with team-mate Julian Weigl for top spot as Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi settled for third.
Robert Lewandowski became the first non-German player to score thirty goals in a Bundesliga season. The Polish international added to that tally and ended his season with forty-two goals across all competitions. A highlight of this season and perhaps of all time was the five goals scored in nine minutes while coming off the bench. While Lewandowski’s game has reached new heights season after season, he has become a model professional both on and off the field for many young players to look up to.
This was a close competition between Lewandowski and Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; the Gabon international had a close fought battle with the Pole, especially having started the season in fine form. Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez may feel hard-done by as well, having won the Bundesliga Player of the Month award on three occasions this season. Just goes to show what quality was on show in front of goal in the league. Robert Lewandowski has now also won the award for three successive seasons, the first occasion being as a Borussia Dortmund player.
Julian Weigl has been an immense part of Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund this season. Featuring in thirty league games, the youngster has displayed maturity and composure in his play. Weigl played his assigned role of a defensive midfielder to perfection and was often the unnoticed link that began many of Dortmund’s eye candy attacking plays. The 20-year-old was recognised on multiple occasions for his performances in our TalentRadar Team of the Weekarticles as well as the Player Rankings.
His Borussia Dortmund partner, Matthias Ginter was a close second followed by Bayern’s impressive Kingsley Coman. Julian Weigl joins an elite group of players to have won this award, with David Alaba and Hakan Calhanoglu being the previous recipients.
Amongst the highest assist providers in Europe, Henrikh Mkhitaryan managed to elevate his personal game to a whole new level this past season. 2014/15 saw the Armenian get switched from one flank to the other more often than not but under Tuchel, Mkhitaryan found his productivity peak from the right side of Dortmund’s midfield. Occasionally straying in to a central area, the former Shakhtar player has managed to get his in the flow which resulted in some frequent outstanding performances through the course of the season.
Holding off competition from Robert Lewandowski and team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Armenian has done incredibly well to turn around his Dortmund career from his first season at the club. He becomes the second Dortmund player to win the Bundesliga Player of the Year award on this site, with Marco Reus winning the first version in 2013-14.