The 2022/23 campaign has seen multiple players hit the ground running with their clubs. While some players have picked up right where they left off last season, there are also some who have turned a new leaf.
There are also a few players who are constantly under scrutiny or face harsh criticism for one reason or another. However, a few of them have really overcome such criticism this season and have produced a bright start to the season.
On that note, let's take a look at five players proving their doubters wrong this season.
#5 Alvaro Morata
Alvaro Morata has been at the center of criticism ever since he joined Chelsea in 2017.
The Spaniard's move to England did not work out according to plan, courtesy of which he joined Atletico Madrid in January 2019 on a loan deal. Morata later permanently signed for the club 18 months later before joining Juventus on loan in the same summer.
He scored 20 times across all competitions in the 2020/21 campaign, prompting Juventus to bring him back on loan last season. However, he came under a lot of scrutiny last season after scoring only nine goals in 35 Serie A appearances.
Hence, not a lot was expected of him at Atletico Madrid this season. But Morata has come to the fore for the club and has scored three goals in just 406 minutes of La Liga action.
His performances have also been well-rounded as he has worked defensively too, something necessary in Diego Simeone's system. Thus, the 29-year-old striker has certainly not thrown in the towel just yet and still has plenty left in him.
#4 Ousmane Dembele
Ousmane Dembele, after providing 11 La Liga assists in the second half of last season, looked set to leave Barcelona this summer. The French star ran down his contract last season, leaving several fans fuming.
Although Barcelona re-signed the player after agreeing a new deal, there were still doubts as to whether Dembele could maintain his fitness at the start of this season.
The winger has certainly answered those questions by scoring twice and providing four assists in eight games across all competitions so far. Dembele has looked lively, enthusiastic and full of energy, which has led to his chances of playing for France at the World Cup being a real possibility.
#3 Jordan Pickford
Everton may have only won one Premier League game so far this season, but their defense has been the second-best in the English top-flight.
The Toffees have only conceded six times in the league, the same as Manchester City. Jordan Pickford has played a big role in ensuring the same as the England goalkeeper.
The shot-stopper has often faced criticism for his poor positioning between the posts, while his passing has also received criticism at times. But he has put those comments behind him this season.
Pickford has kept two clean sheets in seven games, including producing a man-of-the-match performance in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool. While he has also been key in ensuring three other draws, he was unlucky not to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea on the opening day of the season.
Additionally, Pickford has also made 26 saves in seven league games, the fourth-highest in the Premier League. With the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, England's No. 1 has found some good form at the right time.
#2 Lisandro Martinez
Lisandro Martinez has already become one of the most focal members under Erik Ten Hag at Manchester United. However, critics and pundits were hugely unconvinced when the Red Devils stumped up €67 million to sign him this summer.
Ten Hag always knew how Martinez would fit in, but many others had doubts about whether the 5'9 defender could cut it as a Premier League centre-back. The opening two league defeats, including the 4-0 humiliation by Brentford, did not help either.
However, Martinez responded to his critics by producing a sensational performance in Man United's 2-1 victory against Liverpool. This was followed by the player ensuring two clean sheets for his side before also helping his side win 3-1 against table-toppers Arsenal.
His aggressive nature of defending, coupled with bundles of technical ability with and without the ball, has been appreciated by the Old Trafford faithful. Martinez now has to maintain the same level of consistency as Ten Hag aims to rebuild the club.
Since his €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, Neymar has faced massive criticism.
The Brazilian's lack of fitness, unnecessary showboating, and inability to produce performances in big games are just some of the reasons for the same. One thing that cannot be argued is his unabashed talent, albeit it has only come in glimpses.
In fact, he was also expected to perform well last season after the club signed Lionel Messi from Barcelona. However, all Neymar could manage was 13 goals across all competitions, with none of them coming in the Champions League.
But that has not been the case this season, as Neymar is out to right the wrongs of his previous campaigns. The South American sensation has scored 11 goals and provided eight assists in just 11 appearances across all competitions. He is working hard off the ball and is looking much fitter, energetic and much more of a team player.
Christoph Galtier has certainly reached out to Neymar, who is eager to impress and win the biggest trophies in Europe this season. Injury is likely to be his only doom, but this might just be the year when the 30-year-old brings home the coveted UCL trophy to the French capital.