Premier League: 10 contenders for Player of the Year
Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie & Gareth Bale are all in the running to win the Player of the Year award
There have been many great performers in the Premier League this season, and as the race for the PFA Player of the Year award reaches it's climax, I assess who may scoop the individual award.
1) Luis Suarez
The controversial Uruguayan has come under continuous criticism for his on-field antics during his time in England, but no matter what bad things he has done, he is an incredible footballer. Suarez has notched 22 goals in the league for Liverpool this season, and is the leading goalscorer too, three goals clear of Robin van Persie. Despite his dark side, his ability is out of the question and his performances this season certainly make him a worthy winner of the award.
2) Robin van Persie
The Flying Dutchman has been in scintillating form in the past few seasons, and this campaign has been no different. With van Persie making a big-money move to Manchester United from Arsenal this summer, not everyone was convinced that he'd reach the same heights. However, the former Gunner adapted to life at Old Trafford instantly and has bagged himself a terrific 19 goals already this season. He remains one of the most feared strikers in the league, and the shortlist would not look correct without him in there.
Almost everyone's choice as signing of the season, and perhaps century, too. The Spaniard has stunned the Premier League this year, hitting 15 league goals for Swansea, only behind fellow candidates Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez. He was little-known before Michael Laudrup brought him to the Liberty Stadium, but is now regarded one of the hottest properties in the Premier League. Well worth the £2 million the Swans paid for him in the summer, and on top of signing of the season he may certainly be valued as player of the season by many.
4) Juan Mata
The second Spaniard on the list, Mata has certainly shown aspiring footballers how to play the number ten role with his displays for Chelsea this season. He has adapted to the physicality and pace of the English game this year, and his stats reinforce his improvement: 16 goals and nine assists is admirable for a player in his position. The former Real Madrid man looks like a strong contender for Player of the Year and has rightly received heaps of praise for his performances for the Blues in the 2012/13 campaign.
5) Marouane Fellaini
The strong Toffees midfielder has been in fine form this season, and is really getting the recognition he deserves. He has guided Everton to some crucial wins this season, scoring the only goal on the opening day of the season in a 1-0 win against Manchester United. He has developed hugely and is arguably the Blues' most prized asset, and looks at home at Everton - for now at least. The giant Belgian is definitely in with a shout to take home the award.
6) Leighton Baines
Another Evertonian in the list, Baines has really shown his class this season with some excellent performances and wonderful goals. He has also built a very strong partnership with left-sided midfielder Steven Pienaar, and is one of the best defenders in the league. The Merseyside-born full-back has impressed so much this season that he is now pressing Ashley Cole hard for his starting place in the England side, and he has also been linked with a big-money move to Manchester United. Possibly an outsider, but would more than deserve the award.
7) Santi Cazorla
A £16 million summer signing for Arsenal from financially unstable Malaga, Cazorla looks to have been bought relatively cheap for the quality he has shown this season. Stunning strikes against Manchester United and West Ham are just glimpses of what the third Spaniard on the list can do, and he has become a vital part of Arsene Wenger's side. Certainly a contender and looks set to play an important role in this Arsenal team for the foreseeable future.
8) Rio Ferdinand
The 34-year-old Englishman has really returned to his best in the 2012/13 season. After being frustrated by a back injury for the last few seasons, he has struggled to find consistent form and has had to adapt his game. We have seen him do this brilliantly, and the 6ft 2" centre-back has been at times unplayable this year, with not many strikers able to match his strength or beat him for pace. He is still as composed as ever on the ball, and we've seen him play some passes that would make Paul Scholes proud. His performances for Man Utd have even seen him gain an England recall, too. Of course a big outsider, but not many, if any at all, defenders have played better and he would be a deserved winner.
9) Moussa Dembele
A possible shock to some, and is probably considered an outsider. But if you watch him closely then you would understand why I have put Dembele in this list. In almost every match this season he has been outstanding, using his body well to keep the ball and sprinting past almost all his opponents whilst maintaining possession with brilliant passing displays. On his day, the Belgian is unstoppable and has become one of the best midfielders in the Premiership, whether he's breaking down play as a holding midfielder or pushing forward and helping the attack by playing in behind the strikers. £15 million well spent, and his performances have merited at least a place on the shortlist.
10) Gareth Bale
The Welshman has been in the limelight all season long after many impressive displays. Since he burst on to the scene after tearing Maicon and Inter Milan apart in the 2010 UEFA Champions League, he has been great, but not consistent enough. However, consistency is out of the question now, as he has been a match-winner for Tottenham all season, with 16 goals in the league no mean feat for a winger. Undoubtedly a strong candidate.
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