Editor James Beeson examines the credentials of the candidates for the PFA Player of the Year 2015 and gives his verdict on who should win the award on 26 April
Chelsea’s battering ram of a forward has been a sensation since his £32million move from Atletico Madrid last summer. 19 Premier League goals in his debut season has seen Costa become an instant favourite amongst the Chelsea faithful, with the side looking likely to win the title in style. Costa also scored in the 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final in March. However, he has scored no goals in the Champions League this season, and with 13 of his 19 Premier League goals coming before the turn of the year, he has arguably faded as the season has worn on, with fatigue and injury disrupting his goalscoring prowess. This, coupled with his competitive and occasionally violent antics on the pitch means Costa is unlikely to win this season’s prize, but he has had an exceptional debut season nonetheless.
David De Gea
It’s unusual to see a goalkeeper nominated for the PFA player of the year, and no ‘keeper has won the award since Peter Shilton in 1978. However, David De Gea has been in imperious form between the sticks for Manchester United this season, making some truly remarkable saves and keeping 10 clean sheets for his side. However, I often think that De Gea’s ability is overstated. He is undoubtedly a very fine goalkeeper, and has now fully overcome the initial teething problems that plagued his early United career. Despite this, I would be extremely surprised to see De Gea come away with this year’s award, particularly given the Spanish ‘keeper has fewer clean sheets than Fraser Forster, Lucas Fabianski and the much maligned Simon Mignolet this year.
A surprising inclusion in this season’s nominations. Liverpool’s Brazilian maestro has been nominated for both the PFA and PFA Young Players awards alongside De Gea, Harry Kane and Eden Hazard. Coutinho is blessed with magical footwork and knack for scoring crucial goals, including winners against Bolton in the FA Cup and Southampton and Newcastle in the Premier League. Despite this, Coutinho has registered just 4 goals and 4 assists in the Premier League this season, the same number as Radamel Falcao and far fewer than the likes of Sergio Aguero, and Raheem Sterling, both of whom missed out on this season’s shortlist. I would be extremely surprised to see Coutinho win either award this year, and would personally pick Mata, Fabregas or Eriksen over the 22 year old any day of the week.
The bookies favourite and my personal tip for this year’s award, Eden Hazard has been nothing short of sensational this year, guiding Chelsea to the top of the Premier League and winning many plaudits along the way. Upon first arriving in England, I initially doubted Hazard’s ability to influence key games, particularly playing out on the wing. However, his career continues to move on an upwards trajectory, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of PSG or Real Madrid move for the Belgian this summer. 17 goals in all competitions is not a huge haul, particularly given that Hazard takes penalties for his club. Nonetheless, it is Hazard’s ability to dribble and take on opponents that has seen him nominated for this award. No player has been fouled more in the Premier League this season; It’s just about the only way to stop him. A truly fantastic talent.
The rise of Enfield’s golden boy this season has been quite simply astonishing. Rewind 12 months and Harry Kane was the butt of jokes on the terraces at White Hart Lane, a shining example of how bad Tottenham’s recruitment policy has been in recent years. However, fast forward to present day and Harry Kane is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League, captaining his side in the absence of the injured Hugo Lloris and a full international with England, having scored less than two minutes into his debut last month. Kane is not the most glamorous footballer; he isn’t particularly fast, or technically gifted. But what he lacks in natural talent, he more than makes up for in dedication, passion and good old-fashioned grit. Goals against Chelsea and Arsenal have made Kane an instant fan favourite amongst the White Hart Lane faithful, and his rise has captured the hearts of the nation in what has been a fairytale year for the Englishman. Kane will run Hazard close for the senior award, but should be an absolute shoe-in for young player of the year.
Another big money signing this summer, Alexis Sanchez wasted little time in adapting to the Premier League after his move from Barcelona, scoring 14 goals and registering 8 assists in the league in his first season for the Gunners. Despite suffering from a few niggling injuries and fading somewhat in recent weeks, possibly as a result of a lack of winter break, Sanchez remains an explosive talent capable of turning a game in an instant. The 26 year old Chilean probably won’t win this season’s award, but he remains another excellent acquisition from Arsene Wenger and will undoubtedly prove key to Arsenal’s two pronged attack on the title and FA cup in the closing few weeks of the season.