With the PFA Players' Player of the Year award due to be handed out this month, lets take a look at the Player of the Year contenders Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie.
1. Luis Suarez
Forget everything about him, his magical touch, his mesmerising control of the ball, discount the controversies which make him look like a troubled teenager, Luis Suarez deserves to win the PFA Player of the Year simply because the numbers say so.
He has scored 22 goals in 30 games this season;including 2 hat-tricks that have won Liverpool 12 points this season. He scores a goal every 122 minutes and has a shot to goal ratio of 6:1. He is not as clean cut as Bale, or nor does he play for a dream team like Van Persie, but still, he has tormented the players who vote for him. He is a true artist and every ground is his canvas.
His mindset is simple, do whatever damage possible and do it in the most magnificent way. For example his goal against Newcastle at Anfield in November,plucking a ball from obscurity, controlling it on his shoulder and rounding goalkeeper Tim Krul within a second. This is one of the more memorable ones but words are not enough for Suarez and his performance this season. He is a player worthy of the admission price, and that is what matters most to Liverpool, more than any Player of the Year award.
2. Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale started his career in the Football League before joining a then-struggling Tottenham side. He was not a natural winger or central player but instead he was a left-back. Then he became a winger while playing in a 4-4-2 formation, before moving to play behind the striker midway through the season. The change came in a match against Norwich City, in which Tottenham were losing and Bale scored a wonderful individual goal to earn his side a draw.
Since then, he has been ten times more effective and has scored plenty more goals. In his central position, Bale is unstoppable. He is far more difficult to mark and when he gets the ball into open space he is able to do more damage. Fancy footwork is rarely seen, instead the Welshman relies on his pace and finishing.
Robin van Persie is a deadly finisher but needs someone to feed him the ball and Suarez is able to create his own opportunities, but even he cannot live up to the standard of Bale. Bale has the ability to turn losses into draws and draws into wins.
The 23-year-old has also won this award before, back in 2011. At that point he was not the best player in the Premier League, but now he is and rightfully deserves his title back.
3. Robin van Persie
Although he has failed to score in the last 9 matches, and by his standards missed a sitter against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The Dutchman deserves to finish as the Player of the Year. Van Persie deserves this because he flourished when the domestic battle was at its fiercest.
Let us state the facts, he scored a late goal against Manchester City in a stadium where his team had managed no shots on target during their last visit. He gave his team an early lead against Chelsea in their 3-2 victory over them and also scored a hat-trick away from home against Southampton, a place where both Chelsea and Manchester City faltered. He led his team to a rare double over their most intense rivals Liverpool and also gave United an early lead in the win against his former club Arsenal. These are just the goals, eight of the 19 from 27 games, but there are also Van Persie's assists that are priceless for his team.
Position wise the Dutchman has been both a number nine and number 10 for the Red Devils, and the last time the Old Trafford faithful saw a player with such swagger and grace was with Eric Cantona. Like Cantona, Van persie has restored United's aura.
His efforts have helped put Manchester United 12 points clear at the top of the table. That is why, despite the magnificence of Suarez and speed of Bale, Robin van Persie must emerge, by a photo finish, the Player Of the Year.
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