In football teams across the globe, the trio has been replaced by the double-act.
With the fall of Barcelona, the era of the front three has seemingly receded. Sure, there are still some examples around but by and large teams aren’t focusing on that idea so much. Rather what is now in vogue is the double-act.
Now unlike the front three, the double-act doesn’t have to be in attack, they could be anywhere on the field. There are many across Europe’s top five leagues, and we’ve collated some of the very best here for you to see. Which duo are No. 1? Have a look…
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Harry Kane & Heung-min Son
Kane Football Index value: £4.82 (Sell) – £5.04 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 27
Son Football Index value: £1.80 (Sell) – £2.09 (Buy)
Harry Kane and Heung-min Son were already great before this season, Kane was even world-class when fit, but no one could have foreseen the explosion in production they’ve unloaded onto the Premier League and Europa League. They’ve taken an otherwise ordinary José Mourinho side and turned it into one of the most enthralling teams in the division and genuine title favourites.
More than just excelling in concert as most of the duos on this list do, they excel in tandem having combined directly (i.e. Kane assisted Son or Son assisted Kane) for 11 goals in the Premier League. It’s hard to argue that Kane and Son aren’t the world’s finest double-act right now.
Most goal involvements in Europe’s top five leagues this season:
◉ Harry Kane (18)
◎ Robert Lewandowski (16)
◎ Kylian Mbappé (14)
◎ Heung-Min Son (13)
◎ Erling Haaland (12)
◎ Thomas Müller (12)
King Kane. pic.twitter.com/AULz7fzYh6
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 7, 2020
Neymar & Kylian Mbappé
Neymar Football Index value: £6.48 (Sell) – £6.80 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 16
Mbappé Football Index value: £5.85 (Sell) – £6.13 (Buy)
The world’s most expensive double-act, these two cost PSG a combined €402m but have delivered mesmeric football as soon as they stepped foot onto the field together. They often need a third striker, a pivot for them to play off, but that person is just a supporting act as these two wing-forwards, wreak havoc with pace, movement, skill and penetration. Neymar’s more of a creator and Mbappé’s more of a scorer but they can each do a bit of everything and are damn-near impossible to stop.
Neymar has now been directly involved in 62 Champions League goals in his career:
◎ 63 games
◉ 38 goals
◉ 24 assists
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 2, 2020
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson
Alexander-Arnold Football Index value: £5.00 (Sell) – £5.34 (Buy)
Combined assists in 2020/21: 6
Robertson Football Index value: £1.77 (Sell) – £2.01 (Buy)
Not all double-acts are forwards and Liverpool’s two full-backs are absolutely gigantic for the Reds. Jurgen Klopp’s side are structured to give the full-backs freedom to drive forward while also implanting on them the responsibility to be the side’s chief playmakers.
Fortunately for Liverpool they are more than capable of handling that burden and their superhuman crossing skill is a defining feature of Liverpool’s football as they have ground the Premier League under their boot. For two seasons prior to this they both notched 10+ assists in the league, playing massive roles in the Reds colossal points total of 196 (with one title) over two seasons.
Robert Lewandowski & Thomas Muller
Lewandowski Football Index value: £2.24 (Sell) – £2.46 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 24
Muller Football Index value: £1.05 (Sell) – £1.13 (Buy)
The main on-pitch difference between Bayern Munich struggling under Niko Kovac and rejuvenating themselves as treble winners under Hansi Flick, was the inclusion of Thomas Muller in the side, and the rekindling of his partnership with Robert Lewandowski. The two forwards aren’t blessed with great pace but they are lethal finishers with feather-soft touches and exemplary movement, as well as a completely selfless attitude towards each other.
Mohamed Salah & Sadio Mané
Salah Football Index value: £2.12 (Sell) – £2.39 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 16
Mané Football Index value: £1.46 (Sell) – £1.76 (Buy)
From bromances to cold stares, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané don’t seem to be great chums and sometimes they loathe to even pass the ball to each other, but they are a spectacular double-act in attack for Liverpool. Their movements dovetail perfectly and they always seem to know how to make excellent supporting runs for each other, making the Reds almost impossible to defend. This devastating double-act proves you don’t need to be friends to be fantastic.
Jules Koundé & Diego Carlos
Koundé Football Index value: £0.61 (Sell) – £0.86 (Buy)
Combined clearances in 2020/21: 72
Diego Carlos Football Index value: £0.33 (Sell) – £0.46 (Buy)
The last decade saw some incredible centre-back double-acts but they’ve all waned as we enter 2020. However, the new dominant duo at the back are Sevilla pair Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos. The Brazilian is a solid aerial presence and Koundé is a miracle of a defender with superhuman recovery pace and the ability to dribble out of defence with the ball. They perfectly compliment each other, covering up for each other’s weaknesses and amplifying each other’s strengths.
Jan Oblak & Atlético Madrid’s defence
Clean sheets in 2020/21: 9 (from 15 games)
Oblak Football Index value: £0.37 (Sell) – £0.46 (Buy)
Jan Oblak is such a good goalkeeper that as long as you put a competent defence in front of him, he’s basically imperious. The Slovenian is in furious form this season with Atleti. Diego Simeone’s side sit top of the table and Oblak’s utterly ludicrous record is why; Atleti have conceded just two goals so far this season. Two!
Scott McTominay & Fred
McTominay Football Index value: £0 (Sell) – £0.62 (Buy)
Combined tackles in 2020/21: 56
Fred Football Index value: £0.30 (Sell) – £0.45 (Buy)
York & Cole, Scholes & Keane, Beckham & Giggs, Rio & Vidic, Rooney & Ronaldo… Manchester United are a club steeped in a history of great double-acts, but right now they have no one really on the same level as Bruno Fernandes, nor playing with him in a true double-act kind of way (there’s potential with Marcus Rashford). So, to find their double act you have to look at midfield to see the hard-working defensive unit they bring in almost exclusively to help take down gigantic opponents.
Fred & McTominay are a pair of workers whose commitment to tackles is admirable as they shut opponent’s down for daring to attack United’s goal. They aren’t pretty to watch, but that’s the point. Here be monsters.
Erling Haaland & Jadon Sancho
Haaland Football Index value: £5.51 (Sell) – £5.90 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 20
Sancho Football Index value: £6.32 (Sell) – £6.78 (Buy)
Erling Haaland turned down the chance to join Manchester United a year ago and elected to join Borussia Dortmund and you have to say it was the right move as it paired him with Jadon Sancho. These two frontline wizards are full of dribbling, passing and of course, goals. Sancho is a liquid dribble with great ideas and Haaland is a battering ram of a man whose power is feared the world over.
Kurt Zouma & Mason Mount
Kurt Zouma has scored four Premier League goals this season, no Chelsea player has netted more.
The Blues' unlikely top scorer this term. 😅 pic.twitter.com/XbLO9HnnHv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 5, 2020
Zouma Football Index value: £0.51 (Sell) – £0.61 (Buy)
Combined goals from set-pieces in 2020/21: 4
Mount Football Index value: £1.71 (Sell) – £1.92 (Buy)
This pair are only active at certain moments in the match but these moments are part of why Chelsea have been so good this season. Kurt Zouma is a colossus at set-pieces and has scored four times already, all direct from corners. His partner could be any of Chelsea’s set-piece takers but he seems to have a particular understanding with Mount, having scored twice from the Englishman’s corners.
Romelu Lukaku & Lautaro Martinez
Lukaku Football Index value: £1.75 (Sell) – £1.87 (Buy)
Combined goals in 2020/21: 18
Martinez Football Index value: £1.30 (Sell) – £1.50 (Buy)
Antonio Conte’s two-man attack unleashes Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez together in the best form. The pair are good friends and while Martinez has the kind of irrepressible defensive presence that makes him a true nuisance, his passing and hold-up play are crucial to unleashing Lukaku as a proper goalscorer. A relentless presence who can bag ’em off either foot against opponents big and small. Martinez is a lethal scorer himself when he wants to be and so by rights Inter should be one of Europe’s best, they just need the rest of the team to catch up to these two miracles.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic & himself
Goals in 2020/21: 10
Ibrahimovic Football Index value: £0.59 (Sell) – £0.69 (Buy)
After two years in the USA, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to Europe, to Milan, to play for the side he last won the title with in 2011. It shouldn’t have worked as Zlatan is nearly 40 and Serie A has changed since he last dominated it.
Zlatan is such a leader, such a dynamic presence that he has been able to lift the entire Milan side, turning the Rossoneri into genuine title contenders. The Swede has 10 goals in just 6 Serie A games and has fired them to the top of the table.
Zlatan Ibrahimović for AC Milan in Serie A in 2019-20:
◎ 18 games
◎ 10 goals
◎ 5 assists
Zlatan Ibrahimović for AC Milan in Serie A in 2020-21:
◉ 6 games
◉ 10 goals
◉ 1 assist
The man is a joke. pic.twitter.com/r6VnG0TjEP
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 22, 2020
Can they stay there? Well Zlatan’s ability to harmonise with himself has lifted Milan right up off the ground, so it looks like they might be for real. The Swede needs no partner to create a double-act, he is a double-act! And his leadership inspires others. Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer are forming a double-act in midfield, Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer at the back. Zlatan lifts all.