PFA Player of the year award clearly a two horse race

Mohammad Salah was left out of the final six contenders for the PFA Player of the year award but another Red is surely in the clear to claim the award.

Originally published on ForeverSports

As the race for the Premier League title goes down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City. A different debate has ensued, who will be crowned the Player of the year. Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Christiano Ronaldo are some of the Premier League giants that have walked away with the coveted award before. The PFA have released the last six men in contention to receive one of the Premier Leagues most prestigious individual awards. Obviously, there were no surprises that the top two teams dominate this year’s shortlist with Eden Hazard being the odd man out.

Last season’s winner Mohammad Salah misses out this season regardless of his 21 goals that might very well guide Liverpool to their first Premier League title in almost 30 years. To be fair, that number fails in comparison to his wonder season last year where the Egyptian blew the Premier League away scoring 32 goals for Liverpool.

Manchester City trio of Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva all feature on the list. Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk represent the red side of Merseyside with Eden Hazard the only player not in the title race rounding off the list of players.

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This season has made it difficult to see a clear winner for the award which will be decided in London on Sunday, April 28. Naturally, every football fan under the sun has an opinion on who has been the standout player this season. In my opinion, the race has two clear favourites, Van Dijk and Sterling. Van Dijk has been immense for Liverpool this season. However Sterling has been stellar on and off the pitch as well, clearly embodying the attributes that footballer of the year should display. Surely only the title will ultimately decide who should walk away with the honour but we will have to wait and see.

Van Dijk is a clear winner for many pundits, the central defender was bought from Southampton for £75 million, the natural progression for any Southampton player these days. He came to Merseyside and completely fortified the Liverpool defence, organising and commanding the players around him with astounding assurance and composure. He has been worth his weight in gold leading Liverpool to an unprecedented 18 clean sheets and only conceding 20 goals this season, 18 less than the previous season.

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If commanding the back isn’t enough the Dutch defender has helped out upfront as well, scoring 3 goals and assisting 2. If you ask any Liverpool player, Van Dijk is the only man who should walk away with the award. Coming in second which is definitely unnatural for any City player is Raheem Sterling. He has had a prolific season for the Citizens ultimately raising his game to be one of the most consistent City players and possibly one of the first names on the team sheet every week. His goal contribution for the Blues is second only to Aguero, reaching 17 goals this season so far. The England man leads the race with the most assists for the Citizens teeing up 10 assists for his teammates.

However as much as we measure a footballer by what they can do within 90 minutes with a ball and ten other men, Sterling’s attitude off the field has been nothing short of commendable. The City forward has effectively used his platform to voice his disgust at the prevalence of racism in football, and has called for various associations to work harder to put an end to this by enforcing stronger punishments for this behaviour. There is truly no room for racism anyway in the world and especially not in sport.

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Aguero has led the line for the champions by doing what he does best, scoring goals. Aguero has done what he has been doing for City since 2014, scoring more than 20 goals a season. The Argentine has lead by example, scoring 19 goals and racking up 8 assists for the Citizens this season.

The front man has remained so consistent for Pep Guardiola that Gabriel Jesus has very clearly become the second choice striker at City regardless of the two man upfront formation that we thought we might see earlier in the season. If ever you needed a striker to keep City hot on Liverpool’s heels, Aguero is the man to do it.

The surprising name in this year’s list is one Portuguese midfielder, Bernardo Silva. Silva has slowly wormed his way into becoming a key player in Pep’s starting eleven. Pep has said on more than one occasion of how diligent and hardworking the 24-year-old is which is clearly admired by the City manager. The little Portuguese magician ran an unbelievable 13km against Liverpool when the sides last met. The highest distance covered in the league this season by any player. Although creativity and a positive work-rate are needed in any team, is it enough of a reason to win individual awards?

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Generally, individual awards are measured by individual success. Do Bernardo’s goal contributions measure up? The City man is seven and seven with goals and assists which is relatively low for the company that he finds himself in for the award. So has he just been included because he has become vital to Pep’s pressing game or is he deserving of the position?

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A certain Bournemouth man may feel a bit hard done by if we are working off statistics and certainly a case can be made for why. Ryan Fraser has had an incredible individual season, although his team may not be fighting for the league, the Scottish winger has scored seven times for the Cherries and has 13 assists to his name. Fraser is level on assists with one of the greatest creative players in the league, Eden Hazard. Fraser certainly could have been viewed as an option given Bernardo Silva’s inclusion.

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Eden Hazard is surely deserving of his placement in the final six. The Belgian man has been nothing short of magical for Chelsea this season, with 13 assists and 16 goals. Hazard has exceeded the heights he reached when he won the award in the 2014/15 season, only scoring 14 goals and assisting 9 that year. The Blues main man has once again saved Chelsea from what may have been a mid-table finish and proved yet again how invaluable he has become to Stamford Bridge and co.

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