After the heroics of Leicester City last season, there’s no surprise that Riyad Mahrez scooped the PFA Player of the Year in 2016. He, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kanté all shocked the Premier League last season, as well as the rest of the Leicester City squad.
However this year – despite their recent resurgence under Craig Shakespeare – the Foxes don’t boast any names on the nominations list.
It’s Chelsea that take the title for most players available for selection, with Eden Hazard and Kanté accompanying Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez and former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku make up the remaining places.
With Kane and Lukaku also featuring among the PFA Young Player of the Year award nominations, eyebrows have been raised over what age counts as “young” when it comes to these competitions. Both players are 23 – which is still very young – but they should only be nominated for one award, to give other players a chance.
However, despite this slight confusion they have been in incredible form this year. Although, their competition have also been scintillating for their respective clubs, so who would be a worthy winner this year?
Hazard and Kanté have been ever-present in Antonio Conté’s charge for the Premier League title.
Kanté – who could have easily won the award last year while at Leicester – has done incredibly well to continue impressing despite heightened expectation. A £32 million transfer to one of the biggest teams in England would easily distract some players from their game, but the 26 year-old has done brilliantly well along side Nemanja Matić in-front of that three man Chelsea defence.
And Hazard has become one of those players who is feared as soon as the ball is at his feet. With similar traits to Cristiano Ronaldo, Hazard glides past players effortlessly and has also become somewhat of a goal threat with 14 goals in all competitions this season. Only three behind top-scorer Diego Costa, there’s no doubt that the former Lille winger would be a worthy winner.
Sanchez has been a shinning star in a disappointing season for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. Currently third behind Lukaku and Kane in the goalscoring charts, the Chilean has scored and set up some crucial goals for the Gunners this season.
His nomination doesn’t come as a surprise, and to be recognised for his performances in a season where Arsenal have stumbled gives enough of an incentive for him to win the award. This could also be the last season we see him in an Arsenal jersey, with rumours suggesting the 28 year-old could be on his way out of North London.
Despite Kane being nominated for both awards, he should be considered for the more senior award due to his maturity when it comes to matters on the field. It’s easy to forget that he is just 23 years old when he scores week in, week out as if he has been leading Spurs’ front line for over a decade.
Only behind an equally impressive Lukaku in terms of goals, Kane was awarded with the Young Player of the Year in 2014/15. To continue his development over the last couple of years despite critics suggesting he could be a ‘one season wonder’ has seen the Spurs No.10 sky rocket to the top. An award for him would be a compliment to his management and his teammates, as well as being a justified decision.
Ibrahimovic has been in the Premier League for less than a season, and for him to have been nominated for such prestigious award in his first season is nothing short of masterful. His personality divides opinion, but when it comes to what he does on the pitch everyone is in agreement, he is phenomenal.
17 goals and five assists for Mourinho and Manchester United has seen him become a club legend in less than 12 months, and with the £89 million fee of Paul Pogba looming over Old Trafford, it’s a relief that Zlatan has come to the Frenchman’s rescue. If he decides to extend his contract and stay in England for another year, it’s easy to predict another impeccable season for the Swedish striker.
Ronald Koeman has been a huge influence over Romelu Lukaku since is arrival from Southampton in June. The Belgian has been the picture of consistency his his permanent move from Chelsea, but having Koeman – who is an expert in man management – watching his every move has seen him become a striker that defenders fear when they see his name on the team sheet.
Although, the 23 year-old knows he’s a good player. With ambitions of Champions League football, he has rejected Everton’s most recent contract offer in search of a bigger club, a bold decision that could come back to bite him in the future.