Robin van Persie’s hat-trick heroics in Monday night’s 3-0 win over relegation battlers Aston Villa is conclusive evidence that he is the man for the 2013 PFA Player of the Year Award.
The 29-year-old Dutchman scored all three goals, including one sublime effort, in a game that secured Manchester United’s 20th league trophy with four games left in the season.
The striker subsequently rounded up his goal tally to 28 (24 premier league) this season in what has been a blistering start to his Manchester United career.
Manager Alex Ferguson, who has also seen Michael Carrick nominated for the main award this year, spoke to Sky Sports News about the nominations, saying: "They deserve to be nominated, there's no doubt about that. And I obviously hope one of them wins.
"Robin has had a fantastic season - his goals emphasise the impact he has made at our club. Both of them deserve to be there."
Despite other stiff competition from the sublime Gareth Bale, and the much maligned yet brilliant Luis Suarez, one simple fact puts van Persie ahead of this year’s nominees, he has been a ‘transfer kingmaker’.
In other words, wherever van Persie went this season, the Premier league crown was always going to follow, whether that was the Red half of Manchester or the Blue.
His goals have not only been frequent but they have been unbelievably important, scoring vital goals against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and most importantly their title rivals Manchester City.
Even against the so-called ‘smaller-clubs’ Van Persie has been called upon to make the difference with the most notable of these being his hat-trick against Southampton in December.
Alex Ferguson’s 1000th game in charge of United looked set to end in disaster as the plucky south-coast side took a 2-1 advantage into the 87th minute.
Van Persie, who had already scored earlier in the game, managed to bring United level but not content with a hard fought away draw, it was the Dutchman who struck again deep into stoppage time with an aptly timed header.
On top of this there have been a few eye-catching moments from the Dutchman too, his goal on Monday night displayed his natural ability to make well timed runs, quick decisions and finish with expert technique.
Some questioned Ferguson’s decision to bring on board a 29-year old injury prone striker for a hefty £24m last summer, but his goal scoring record speaks for itself and with one title now under his belt, both United and Van Persie will inevitably be happy with the switch.
Yet the striker is still battling against two of this year’s biggest talents in Bale and Suarez who are both worthy of this year’s prize.
Bale has been in scintillating form this season and, like van Persie, has often been the catalyst in his team’s success.
The Welshman, who is also in the running for this year’s PFA Young Player of the Year Award, has scored 23 goals (18 premier league) from the wing this season and his performances are rumoured to have attracted interest from clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has also been in equally impressive form once again this season contributing a magnificent 30 goals (23 premier league) and five assists.
Despite more controversy from the Uruguayan last weekend against Chelsea, the striker has been a constant threat from virtually anywhere inside the opposition half with his blistering dribbling skills and his vastly improved finishing ability.
The list also includes two of Chelsea’s ‘three amigos’ in Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, who despite both having terrific seasons at Stamford Bridge, are still rank outsiders for the award.
Ultimately the bookies have made both Bale slight favourite for the award, owing to his marvellous run of form in the early months of 2013, including a truly world class performance against West Ham in February.
Yet Van Persie’s performances throughout the season will also make this a tense and debatable three horse race, with all three deserved of recognition in what has been yet another fascinating season for the Premier League.
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