2. Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Around 12 months ago, the name of Chris Smalling in the starting XI for either Manchester United or England was enough to put fans on edge, with the unpredictability of the centre back a real worry.
However, the 25-year-old has hushed his critics with a string of impressive showings over the past 12 months.
He has helped his club establish the best defence in the Premier League this season, conceding a mere eight goals in 12 games.
If there’s some faults in Louis van Gaal’s attacking set-up, he has produced a solid backline and has developed Smalling into a top-class defender.