Usually, picking a league best XI means the majority of players selected will likely come from a select few teams at the top of the table. It stands to reason that the best teams likely had the best performers, and teams of the year logically follow that reasoning. Very often that means some extremely deserving players miss out though. This time, we're doing our team of the year a bit differently.
Only one player from each club makes it into our best XI. Here's how the team lines up, in a 3-4-3 formation:
Goalkeeper: Gigio Donnarumma - AC Milan
Gianluigi Donnarumma just turned 18 in 2017, but he's been one of Serie A's very best goalkeepers for two years running now. Italy's not known for their generosity towards young players, and especially in a position so dominated by older men, Donnarumma's accomplishments have been even more exceptional. The kid is something special.
Defender: Mattia Caldara - Atalanta
It makes sense that Juventus have secured Mattia Caldara's services for 2018. The 23-year-old Atalanta center back is looked at as the future of Italy's defense, and he's proved it over and over again this season. He helped anchor one of the league's best defenses and was an integral part of Atalanta's incredible run as they finished fifth in Serie A.
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Defender: Francesco Acerbi - Sassuolo
Sassuolo center back Francesco Acerbi made it through testicular cancer and came back to become one of Serie A's best defenders. The 29-year-old was a wall for the Neroverdi, averaging over six clearances a match, among the league's best.
Defender: Federico Fazio - Roma
Giant defender Federico Fazio was a huge (hehe) part of Roma's title challenge this season. He dominated in the air, but was equally comfortable on the ground, just as able to launch Roma attacks with precise passes as he was to crush opposition strikers.
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Midfielder: Lucas Castro - Chievo
Lucas Castro was Chievo's creative inspiration this season. The attacking midfielder provided goals and assists in equal measure for the Flying Donkeys, and without him they would have ended up a lot closer to the relegation zone.
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Midfielder: Miralem Pjanic - Juventus
It took a bit of adjustment on both sides for Miralem Pjanic to settle into Juventus' midfield after his move from Roma this summer, but once he found his feet he became one of the Bianconeri's most important players. Their conductor in midfield, he was a huge reason for their continued domestic and continental success.
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Midfielder: Federico Bernardeschi - Fiorentina
Federico Bernardeschi's at the head of a new era of talented young Italians, and he's been a revelation for Fiorentina since really breaking through last season. He was one of their best players again this season, despite being moved around in midfield and even being deployed as a wingback throughout the year.
Midfielder: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - Lazio
In his second year in Serie A, Lazio's hulking midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has emerged as one of the league's brightest prospects. An all-around force, Milinkovic-Savic is as competent with the ball at his feet as he is terrifying aerially, and it doesn't seem like Lazio will be able to fight off interest in the 22-year-old for much longer.
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Attacker: Dries Mertens - Napoli
Dries Mertens had his best ever year in a Napoli shirt this season. The little Belgian was a revelation at striker for the Partenopei after the departure of Gonzalo Higuain and Arkadiusz Milik's injury, and he helped push the southerners to title contention by contributing nearly 40 goals over the course of the Serie A campaign.
Attacker: Mauro Icardi - Inter
It's hard to believe Mauro Icardi's still only 24 years old. The Argentine hitman has been piling the goals in for Inter Milan since 2013, and things weren't any different this season. Inter Milan may have returned to the old "Pazza Inter" (crazy Inter) days with backroom reshufflings, manager sackings and all kind of craziness at the San Siro, but it didn't stop Icardi from scoring. And scoring. And scoring.
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Attacker: Andrea Belotti - Torino
Maybe the biggest surprise package of this year's Serie A, Andrea Belotti came out the blocks hot and he never cooled off. Averaging a goal just about every 120 minutes, he was far and away Torino's best player, and his €100 million price tag is starting to look more and more like a bargain for potential suitors.