Ronaldo, Rooney, De Gea: Man Utd Players' Player of the Year award winners ranked

  • Kobe Tong

Luke Shaw has won the Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year prize for the 2020/21 campaign.

While Bruno Fernandes picked up his second consecutive Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, it was Shaw who was voted the Red Devils’ best player in a recent vote by his fellow teammates.

One of the players who voted for Shaw was fellow full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who told the club’s website: “I gave my vote to Luke but I think Bruno [Fernandes] was up there as well.

Luke Shaw wins 2020/21 prize

“Luke has been the standout for me, putting in the performances and that pushes me as well, to compete with him, to bring the best out of both of us.

“He’s been positive throughout, making the most of every game. He’s not taken his foot off the pedal.“

It’s a thoroughly deserved victory for the England international and one that consolidates his place amongst an exclusive club of players to have won the award alongside his 2018/19 triumph.

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Man Utd Players’ Player of the Year award

And with the revered gong amongst United players having commenced in the 2005/06 campaign, we thought Shaw’s victory was the perfect opportunity to look back on the 11 players to have won.

And seeing as this is the internet, where everything needs to be ranked, we just couldn’t resist pitting the 11 players up against each other by comparing their award-winning seasons.

It’s important to bear in mind that we’re focusing on the campaigns in which they won the plaque alone, so this is not necessarily a reflection on their entire career at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.


Ranking Man Utd’s 11 winners

However, disclaimers aside, sit back and enjoy as I inevitably offend half the Old Trafford faithful with my ranking of the 11 players to have scooped the club’s Players’ Player of the Year award:

11. Chris Smalling (2015/16)

Last place is by no means an indictment of Smalling in what proves to be a star-studded list, but even his finest season at Old Trafford – filling in as captain for key periods – isn’t enough to compete with bona fide club legends.


10. Ryan Giggs (2005/06)

Speaking of which, Giggs would place much higher than 10th if we were basing this on pure quality, but the 2005/06 term was by no means the Welshman’s finest with just three goals and seven assists in the Premier League.

9. Anthony Martial (2019/20)

A decent enough season where Martial established himself as United’s leading goalscorer, bagging 23 strikes in 48 games, but it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more standout campaigns still to come.


8. Antonio Valencia (2011/12 & 2016/17)

Our first double winner is a stalwart of Old Trafford over the last 10 years, particularly thriving during the 2011/12 campaign to earn himself the number seven jersey, before hitting the ground running under Jose Mourinho.

7. Nani (2010/11)

One of the most underrated seasons in the history of the Premier League. Why isn’t it talked about more that Nani romped his way to nine goals and 14 assists in just 33 games?! 


6. Luke Shaw (2018/19 & 2020/21)

It’s depressing how quickly some fans forgot how brilliant Shaw was during the 2018/19 campaign, but there can be no denying his world-class ability this time out, shining as one of the Premier League’s most creative players.

5. Michael Carrick (2012/13)

The magnum opus of a thoroughly underrated career, Carrick was the beating heart within Sir Alex Ferguson’s final Premier League triumph, strolling his way into the PFA’s Team of the Year and competing for the main prize.


4. Nemanja Vidic (2008/09)

Arguably the greatest defender in Premier League history, Vidic was playing football from a different planet in 2008/09 as United conceded just 24 goals and went on a record-breaking streak of 14 games.

3. David de Gea (2013/14, 2014/15 & 2017/18)

Aside from being the only three-time winner in the award’s history, De Gea was the world’s best goalkeeper during his United pomp, bagging a Premier League Golden Boot and five(!!!) Match of the Day Save of the Season plaques.


2. Wayne Rooney (2009/10)

Welcome to the United seasons so epic that said players were competing for the Ballon d’Or and there could be no denying that Rooney was amongst the world’s best when he smashed home 34 goals in 44 matches.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (2006/07 & 2007/08)

Like, duh. Ronaldo was so astonishing during these two seasons that he won back-to-back PFA Player of the Year awards, broke the Premier League record for goals in a 38-game season and bagged the Ballon d’Or.


A star-studded list of winners

It had to be Ronaldo, didn’t it? As much as Shaw has been remarkable this season and I’ll be the first person to admit it, there’s no way that he can compete with some of United’s greatest players.

But although United’s 2020/21 escapades don’t hold a candle to the halcyon days of Vidic, Rooney and Ronaldo, there can be no denying that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are on the right track.

And if there is to be a long-awaited Premier League title in the club’s immediate history, then you can bet that world-class performances from Shaw would be at the heart of any such charge.

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