Last year Robin Van Persie won the award at a canter but this year there are some genuine challengers to his crown. TheHardTackle has been closely monitoring the performances of these elite players through the course of the season and now takes a look at 6 players who have impressed the most for their respective clubs.
Pablo Zabaleta recently described the Welshman as a ‘force of nature’ and tipped him to win the award this season. Andre Villas Boas has built a strong squad of players capable of competing at the highest level but there is little doubt about the importance of Gareth Bale to Tottenham Hotspur. The London based club currently occupy one of the Champions League spots and it has been largely due to the efforts of Bale.
Tottenham’s No 11 has been in red hot form in recent weeks and has been drawing comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo. Villas Boas has found a way to get the best out of his talisman by employing him in a more central position behind the striker. Bale has reaped the benefits and has scored a hatful of goals this season.
Bale’s searing pace and long range shooting has helped him notch up an impressive 17 goals in the League this season including a scintillating hattrick at Villa Park. He currently sits 3rd in the race for the Golden Boot behind Suarez and Van Persie.
While question marks about diving and fitness remain, there is little to dispute the Welshman’s class. At only 23, Bale still has a lot of room to improve but he is already good enough to win the award.
The Spaniard has been one of the few bright spots in what has been a disappointing season for Chelsea thus far. While summer signings Hazard and Oscar and stole the headlines in the early part of the season, Mata has been quietly putting in some sterling performances.
The Spanish maestro has been one of the chief creative forces for The Blues and has also chipped in with a few goals. Mata currently leads the assists table in the Premier League with 12 assists to his name in addition to finding the back of the net on 10 occasions. The arrival of Rafael Benitez as manager has seemed to get the best out of the Spaniard and he is now displaying some of his best in his second season at Stamford Bridge.
Roman Abramovic may spend heavily again in the summer, but it is likely that Mata will play a lead role if the new generation of The Blues are to achieve success in the future. The former Valencia man has already won several plaudits for his performances in the season and has an outside chance of winning the PFA award.
Racist. Cheat. Genius. Liverpool’s No. 7 has been the pantomime villain for most of his time in the Premier League. Adored by his home fans and utterly loathed by rivals, Luis Suarez seems to evoke the most extreme of reactions. However, few can doubt his qualities as a footballer.
This season, Suarez has taken his game to new highs. Often accused of being wasteful in front of goal, Suarez has notched up 22 goals this season in the Premier League including a couple of stunning hattricks against Norwich and Wigan.
But it has not just been the goals but also the manner in which Suarez has scored them. Playing in a false 9 role for a majority of the season, the Uruguayan has wreaked havoc on opposition defences with his intelligent movement and dribbling ability. Suarez has been the talisman for Liverpool and leads the race for the Golden Boot.
Love him or Hate him, it is impossible to Ignore his talent and Suarez could well walk away with the “ultimate accolade” for Premier League Players.
Barcelona legend and Swansea manager Michael Laudrup pulled a rabbit out of the hat when he signed Michu from Rayo Vallecano for a meagre sum of £2 million. Michu had slipped through the radar of many top Premier League clubs in spite of being the top scoring midfielder in La Liga in the previous season having scored 15 goals for Rayo Vallecano.
Michu’s performances this season for The Swans have been nothing short of extraordinary. Playing in attacking midfield or as a striker, Michu has been able to find the back of the net with alarming regularity. He has been the top scorer for Swansea and has been instrumental in them securing a spot in Europe next season through the Carling Cup.
Michu’s big frame, technique and footballing intelligence make him one of the top players in the League and it is no surprise that Swansea now value him at £30 million. Arguably the best summer signing of the season, Michu could very well go on to win the PFA award for his sterling performances.
Robin Van Persie
The Dutchman picked up from where he left off last year with some phenomenal performances since the start of the season. Robin Van Persie’s contribution in front of goal for new club Manchester United has ensured that they have the Premier League title already wrapped up.
Van Persie’s switch from Arsenal to Manchester United seems to have had no ill effects on his goal scoring prowess. The Manchester United forward struck several goals at crucial stages throughout the season to ensure maximum points for his club. Most notably, his free kick against Manchester City in the dying seconds of the game.
RVP has been absolutely crucial for his club and with fellow strike partner Wayne Rooney not quite finding his goal scoring form until recently, leaving the onus completely on Van Persie to deliver the goods week in, week out. Van Persie has not disappointed and despite a slump in form over the last few weeks, he remains the favourite to win the award again. Should he do so, RVP will join Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to have won the award on consecutive occasions and take his place amongst footballing royalty.
When Arsene Wenger signed the dimunitive Spaniard from Malaga for £16 million, many hailed it as a bargain. A few months later and they have already been proved correct. The 28 year old has already established himself as a fan favourite and is the lynchpin of the team.
Santi Cazorla is very much the complete package. Blessed with two good feet, an excellent touch and fantastic vision, Cazorla has been a mainstay for Arsenal this season. The Spaniard has the ability to play on either wing and as an attacking midfielder, and has been the major creative force for The Gunners.
While Arsenal have struggled on occasions during the season, Cazorla has been consistently good and has already scored 10 goals in the Premier Leauge. Arsenal still have an outside chance to get into the top 4 this season and Cazorla will have to be in top form if they have to get there. The Spaniard is certainly one of the top players in the league but it remains to be seen whether he will win the PFA award this season ahead of his rivals.