The PFA Player of the Year awards ceremony is coming up this week, showcasing the top players in this years Premier League campaign. People will have their pick for who they think should gain the prize, but who really deserves to win the award?
Player: Harry Kane
Many people questioned whether or not Harry Kane would repeat another successful season in the Premier League, naming him a ‘one season-wonder’, but he has managed to wash that title away in incredible fashion. Currently the England international has 24 goals, exceeding last years total of 21, and he will be hoping to achieve the Golden Boot Award at the end of the campaign. With his style of play convincing many people that he is of similarity to all-time top Premier League goal scorer Alan Shearer, Kane has managed to become the main player in a Spurs side that includes real quality. Without the Englishman’s goals, Spurs, undoubtedly, wouldn’t be placed 2nd in the table, highlighting the role he has in the side. Kane will be hoping to take this form into the European Championships this summer with England, aiming for more success.
Once at Non-League side Stocksbridge Park Steels, Jamie Vardy has convincingly developed into one of the top strikers in the Premier League. On the brink of relegation this time last year, Leicester City have managed to do the impossible and seal a place in this season’s top four, much to the help of the Yorkshireman’s finishing. Not just his ability to put the ball into the back of the net, but his all round play has helped him receive high praise during his performances. His work rate and desire to win games goes to show, with the Foxes aiming to win the title. Vardy has already secured an achievement of his own, becoming the first player to score in 11 consecutive league games, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 10. Second top scorer behind Kane on 22, ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ will also be aiming for the Golden Boot Award come the end of the season. Euro 2016 should be his goal after his remarkable campaign in the Premier League, with the prospect of him and Kane forming a menacing striking partnership for England in France.
Player: Riyad Mahrez
Another Leicester player that deserves a tremendous amount of praise is Algerian Riyad Mahrez. He has been a crucial aspect of Leicester’s remarkable season, with his current tally standing at an impressive 16 goals and 11 assists, his partnership with forward Vardy has been an influential sight to watch on display. Very much like Leicester’s number 9, Mahrez has quickly developed to become a top player for his side over the course of a year. His ability with the ball is unquestionably of high quality, producing numerous amounts of skills on the pitch, with sublime finishing adding to this. Despite a recent dip in form, Mahrez has been pivotal for Leicester’s ambitions of becoming champions, but will surely receive interest from Europe’s elite in the summer, meaning that he may part ways with the Foxes. Many people have tipped the playmaker to win the award, which would be fully deserved if he does.
When Leicester signed a French midfielder that no one had ever heard of from Ligue 1 minnows Caen, many people were left wondering what the 5ft 5inch centre-mid would offer to the side. At a price tag presumed to be around the region of £5.6m, N’Golo Kante has proved to be a vital player for the league-leaders since joining last summer. He is the engine in the side, roaming around the pitch at will, covering many yards during each game. Although he doesn’t add goals to his game, the work-rate and desire that is shown every time he plays has seen people compare him to Claude Makelele, a fellow Frenchman that used to play for Chelsea. Kante seems to be on full throttle in each match, carrying the ball forward whenever he gets the chance. Each performance is almost always perfect, producing at least an 7/10 every game for his side, never a below par performance. The month of March saw him receive a call-up to his national side, where he featured twice for France against the Netherlands and Russia, scoring a goal against the Russians as well. Surely, he must be in contention for a place in the hosts squad for the Euros, fitting the bill perfectly with the likes of fellow French midfielders Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi. Kante is my pick to win the Player of the Year, because without him then Vardy and Mahrez wouldn’t shine, in my opinion, and therefore they wouldn’t be seen at the top of the table.
Club: West Ham
Fellow Frenchman Dimitri Payet has also become the main reason why East-London club West Ham have exceeded expectations of challenging for a place in the top four this season. Signed from French club Marseille last summer, the midfield maestro has delivered ever since his arrival at the Boleyn Ground. Very much like Mahrez, Payet’s ability to produce great skill and trickery with the ball has become a huge aspect to the attacking midfielder. With 8 assists to his name, this number maybe questions his place on this list of nominees, but he did get injured in the early days of November, ruling him out for three months, so this assist count is still good considering the circumstances and being his first season in the English top flight. Goals are also featuring in Payet’s game, with 9 goals in the league. He has received high praise when it comes to his goals, particularly his ability to produce such excellent free-kicks for the Hammers in recent games. The amount of swerve and accuracy he manages to get when it comes to set pieces is truly incredible. Having played for France in March, he will be aspiring to become a regular for his national side leading up to the summer, where he could prove a vital role with Les Bleus.
Player: Mesut Ozil
German international Mesut Ozil has certainly had his best season with the Gunners since joining in 2013. Despite scoring being the main area for development for the World Cup winner, Ozil’s main asset to his game is the assists he gets. Currently standing on 18 assists, Arsenal’s number 11 will be hoping to surpass legendary Gunner Thierry Henry, who managed to get a total of 20 assists in the 2002-03 campaign. He will be hoping to carry on with his creative play for the Euros with Germany, hoping to win back-to-back International tournaments with Die Mannschaft. With 6 goals for the former Real Madrid player, many people, including myself, have questioned his place in contention for the award, with the likes of Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld missing out. Despite this, should Ozil gain 3 more assists to achieve the record, I suppose it does provide evidence for his nomination, but I do feel he is the least likely of the six to win.
Written by Joe Dutton
Sources: 101 Great Goals, Telegraph, Daily Record, Give Me Sport, Eurosport and Standard