PFA Young Player of the Year Nominees: Joe Hart, Nani, Gareth Bale, Jack Wilshere, Javier Hernandez, Seamus Coleman, Samir Nasri.
Every football fanatic finds a thrill in watching a young player rise above the mark and manifest his class, technique and character to earn a mention amongst the best there is. The Premier League has been a big attraction for young talent over the past few years and given its tough game, it takes a lot more doing for a young player to earn the plaudits he deserves. Last year, it was James Milner who bagged the award for the PFA Young Player of the Year. This year serves the plate with another set of faces, all of whom equally deserve to be nominated although their abilities vary at different levels. We here at TheHardTackle have reviewed the candidates shortlisted for the PFA Young Player of the Year and their chances of clinching one of the most elite awards in English Football this year.
Joe Hart: A goalkeeper is all about reflexes, timing and good decision-making. Joe Hart is, without a doubt, a package with all these qualities, performing consistently at an elevated level. At a time when Manchester City were looking to reinvent themselves as one of the biggest power houses of Europe and when England were desperate for a goalkeeper who would show some stability and consistency in front of goal, Joe Hart rose as the answer to their prayers.
In a star-studded team like Manchester City, it is a no-brainer that one must always reach and raise the bar for his continued presence in the starting XI. And for Joe Hart to come through as a talisman, having beaten the big names like David Silva, Mario Balotelli, Gareth Barry and having ousted Shay Given from his throne, there is no doubt that he is a strong contender for the PFA award. This is his second successive nomination, could this be Joe Hart’s year?
Nani: After the Ronaldo-Tevez exodus, many thought it would be hard for the team to cope with increasing competition in the league. Enter Nani. The 24 year old took the high road and with every passing game, put on displays of growing maturity, ability and composure. Nani has fostered a working relationship with Rooney on the pitch and has played his part in firing up the Manchester United base time and time again.
Although it has been a gradual rise for the Portuguese star, playing under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson has surely paved the path for a glorious career ahead of him. The 2010/11 season has been more demanding on Nani than the previous ones. With the absence of key wide players like Ji Sung Park and Valencia, Nani has had to step up on every occasion and has never failed to deliver. If Manchester United does go on to win the treble this year, the PFA award will be the icing on the cake for their No.17. Cristiano Ronaldo won this accolade during his time at the Theatre of Dreams and if former Sporting Lisbon players do have a knack for the PFA award, then watch out, for Nani might be the one walking up on stage.
Gareth Bale: The list of nominees was never going to be complete without the inclusion of this man- Gareth Bale; a world class player whose rise to prominence has been only due to his meandering and yet scintillating plays on that left flank. It has taken him less than year to prove himself as a threat to any team in any competition – be it a Championship team in the Carling Cup or Inter Milan in the Champions League.
It all looks like a story for this Welshman. He was never considered a prospective player when he signed on for Spurs. However, this season, his performances in the domestic and European competitions have been so good that nominating him for the PFA Player of the Year category was never going to be enough and it is no surprise that his name has been listed for the PFA Young Player of the Year category too.
“To my mind, he’s now up there with the best in the world. There’s nobody better.” – Michael Dawson
Jack Wilshere: The youngest nomination with the strongest chance for the PFA award, Jack Wilshere has been, without a doubt, one of the finest products for club and country. For an 18 year old to be sent out on loan to a mid-table club and then being recalled the following season to face the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in the Champions League game doesn’t require much deciphering of his qualities. Jack Wilshere has come out as one of the best players in the country and has been tipped by many for big things.
Wilshere is another fine example of Wenger’s philosophy of building with young players coming to fruition, but he is a lad who pans the entire spectrum. A player who is more than comfortable with putting himself out there and competing with tough and gritty players in big competitions while at the same time, maintaining his drive against lesser teams in domestic competitions, Jack Wilshere is a true professional and will have the backing of many, for the PFA Award.
“He’s an exceptional talent; he’s the future of England. And he will bring them glory in a few years, for sure.” – Cesc Fabreagas.
Javier Hernandez: Few knew about Chicarito when he signed on for Manchester United. The Ronaldo-pounds were largely expected to bring in world class players into the squad. Instead, Sir Alex decided to take a trip to Mexico and bring in a lad from this club named Guadalajara. Post signing, many were waiting for to watch what this youngster is capable of. And their first glimpse came during the 2010 World Cup when Chicarito was in the Mexico squad as one of their key strikers.
The player went on to enjoy a good World Cup campaign but after that was the road to England. And it hardly took Hernandez any time to settle into a league he had only heard about. A tricky player with the Mexican touch, Chicarito can play all across the attacking half for Manchester United and has the ability to change the tide of the game. Having notched up several eye-catching performances this season, Hernandez surely holds a strong hand in the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
“He’s a lovely lad, who’s always smiling around the dressing room, and on the pitch he’s been brilliant. You can see he’s got a natural eye for goal, but what’s surprised a lot of us is how good he is in the air.” – Wayne Rooney.
Seamus Coleman: Everything to life has a story to it and the Story of Seamus Coleman is an interesting one. The 22 year old arrived in England from Rangers two years ago but immediately was sent out on loan to then Championship side, Blackpool to polish his game and massage his confidence. Well, he did just that and was part of the crew that earned promotion this season. Given Ian Holloway’s love for his players, it was initially thought that Coleman was going to stay at Bloomfield Road but David Moyes had thought otherwise.
Since his return to Goodison Park, Coleman has been the adrenaline rush in Everton’s right half and although his exact role on the pitch is still a study in progress, the Irishman seems to be comfortable playing as a full back or in midfield. Such versatility is the mark of a great player and it can be believed that Seamus Coleman is surely en route; and a PFA award would be just the beginning.
Samir Nasri: Arsenal is no doubt a great team to watch. And the credit for all this praise does go to Arsene Wenger no doubt. However, this season, Samir Nasri has taken the game to a different level for the Gunners. Arsenal have always come within touching distance of the title over the past few seasons but this time, they are closer than ever and few would deny that Nasri has made it happen.
Fabregas’ sporadic absence this season meant that somebody else had to rise to the occasion and make a difference on the pitch. Nasri is not only a natural fit in Arsenal’s game but is also one of those players who always realizes the gravity of any situation and goes that extra mile to make the difference and win the game for the club. And it is this attitude that has regressed into his teammates. A true influence on the pitch and a player who is always ready to give more than 100% for the club, Nasri’s inclusion in the list of nominees for the PFA award was inevitable.
This 23 year old player from France has many eye-catching performances under his belt this season that puts him in a strong position for PFA Young Player of the Year nomination list too. Arsene’s eye for young talent has surely paid off and Nasri is quite possibly the icing on the cake.
Who do you think deserves to win the Young Player of the Year award this season?