Samba got the nod in goal just ahead of Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has been in imperious form between the sticks in La Liga as Xavi’s side have shipped just five goals in 14 matches.
Teenager defender Alejandro Balde has also played a key role, while at the other end of the pitch, Robert Lewandowski has scored 18 goals since his arrival from Bayern, but Barca’s catastrophic Champions League exit cannot be overlooked.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe’s omission does not detract from his stellar start to the season, which has seen him deliver a haul of 19 goals, and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior looks set to compete with the French forward for Ballon d’Or acknowledgment in the future after making great strides forward.
Madrid defensive duo Eder Militao and David Alaba have been rock solid, and Alex Moreno, Pedri, Jonathan Clauss and Marco Verratti also made strong cases across La Liga and Ligue 1 competition.
In the Premier League, Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez has played a major role in lifting the club out of a serious rut, while Gabriel Martinelli has been a shining light for Arsenal during their magnificent early-season run.
Leicester City’s James Maddison, Newcastle winger Miguel Almiron and Tottenham frontman Harry Kane have also been standout performers, and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah made a late play for a place in the all-star XI.
Joshua Kimmich and Christopher Nkunku have stood out in the Bundesliga once again, while Victor Osimhen, Nico Barella and Sandro Tonali are among the other Serie A stars that deserve recognition for their superb performances.
Outside of Europe’s most prestigious leagues, PSV winger Cody Gakpo has been making regular headlines, with his record of 13 goals and 17 assists from 24 games fuelling rumours of a January transfer amid reported interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.