Last week, the nominees for the PFA player of the year 2015 were announced. The award’s been around since 1974 and rewards the best player in English football. Over the years, it’s had some pretty worthy winners including Ronaldo, Henry and Cantona. Since it is decided by fellow professionals’ votes, it’s a particularly appreciated award among players.
Now I’m not really a fan of doing all this stuff before the end of the campaign, but it so happens that things are pretty much settled already. Chelsea are going to win the league in the next couple of weeks, and we’ve known it for a while. It’s also pretty obvious which sides will play which European cup. So who will succeed to the all-bitty Suarez? Here’s an overview of contenders..
David De Gea – Manchester United
The United keeper has been exceptional this year. I don’t actually reckon he’s the best keeper in the league – I prefer Chelsea’s Courtois. But on form alone, he’s been second to none, and I genuinely don’t think Man Utd would be in the top 4 without him. While his antics in goal won’t bring a trophy, the importance of qualifying for the Champions League cannot be overlook for the club’s short term future and ability to attract players.
Like Neuer before him, he’ll miss on individual recognition because of his his position. Keepers don’t win awards, as the German found out in December when he finished third in the Ballon d’Or behind the two regulars. I can’t see that change for PFA, although he’d make a worthy winner.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Let’s be honest, it’s very unlikely the 22 year old Brazilian will win, simply because there’s a better him in the list called Hazard. This campaign, he’s added a few spectacular goals to his elegant play, and has done well to cover for the missing Sturridge and departed Suarez.
His versatility’s also been a valuable asset to a Liverpool team juggling between formations. He’s scored a few crackers this season, his winning goal against Manchester City undoubtedly a personal highlight. Also scored winning goals in two consecutive FA Cup rounds. But as the rest of his play, it won’t have any meaningful impact on Liverpool’s mediocre season. One to watch for the future, but he won’t win PFA in this Liverpool team.
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal
As an Arsenal fan, it’s been an absolute pleasure having a player like Sanchez in my team, after years of seeing top players ignore us for the likes of Chelsea and City. Unlike many skillful players -particularly South Americans – he’s got a real hunger about him, and has made a staggering 60 tackles so far this season. His defensive work and positioning are real assets, and I’m always impressed at his ability to challenge players in the air despite his modest stature of 5 ft 7. Shows how far determination can go.
Of course, his contribution to the team goes beyond this. With 14 league goals from the wing and 8 assists so far, he’s contributed 22 points to Arsenal. An outstanding player who deserves every praise he gets. Obviously, I’d love him to win.
Diego Costa – Chelsea
An absolute dickhead but a top striker, Costa is the first Blue in this list. He’s got everything to his game: strength, skill, lethal finishing, a win at all cost mentality and a (very) mean edge. Last campaign, Chelsea were a goal scorer short of winning the league. Then they signed Costa from Atletico, and are on the verge of title victory. It really is that simple.
With 19 league goals in 24 matches, he’s been exceptional. Having said that, his form has dipped in recent weeks, as Chelsea’s performances and wins have become less and less convincing. He’s won his team less points than Kane who has played for a worse side. The Englishman has also been more consistent for me, so I’d have to put him ahead in the pecking order.
Harry Kane – Tottenh*m
Hurts to say, but he’s done alright. Fine, he’s done very well. Before this season, Kane had only netted 3 Premier League goals and looked set to be that younger who goes from one Championship loan to the next.
He has scored 30 goals in all competitions, the first Spurs player to achieve this since a certain Gary Lineker. Can he keep it up? With 22 goals+ assists combined in the league alone, he’s contributed 25 points to his team. More importantly perhaps, he scored the winning goal against Arsenal. Certainly an encouraging start. Winning PFA would be completely deserved, although he’s second favourite for me.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
And here’s why. At 1/6, Hazard is the bookies’ favourite, and mine too. Last season’s Young Player of the year has stepped up, and is a regular mention in the ‘who’s third best after Ronaldo and Messi’ debate. Chelsea’s number 10 scored a remarkable 12, while assisting 8 times.
While his talent’s never been in doubt his work ethic and tactical awareness, regularly criticised by Mourinho last season, seems to have improved this campaign. Like Ronaldo before him, he seems to become more effective with maturity, while keeping a real exciting side and unpredictability to his game.
Hazard has created more chances than any other player in the league. He’s also had more touches in the opposition box than anyone, and completed 148 dribbles – also a league best. He’s been influential in big games, scoring the winning goal against United only last weekend. Regularly praised by football’s big names, including Zinedine Zidane who recently said he preferred him to you-know-which-two. In any case, he’ll win player of the year, and it’s fair enough.