DEBUTANT contributor Ryan Wilson (@ryanjameswillo) has studied the Player Of The Year market, sharing his findings and picking out the value ahead of the 2018/19 season.
WLB Season Preview 2018/19 | Premier League: Player Of The Year
As we generally do before putting our selections forward, I have researched some interesting statistics regarding the PFA Player of the Year:
- Three of the last 10 winners have also finished as the Premier League's top goalscorer
- Four of the last 10 winners have played for the season's Premier League champions
- Seven of the last 10 winners have been midfielders; just three were strikers (Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez)
- Three players have won multiple awards since the Premier League's inception in 1992/93
- Four players have won the award in their first season with their respective club since the Premier League's inception (Rio Ferdinand, Ruud van Nistelrooy, N'Golo Kante, Mohamed Salah)
Of this season's contenders, Kevin de Bruyne heads the market following his near-miss last campaign. The charismatic Belgian is 17/2 (Betfair) to replicate or even better last season's form. While he's consistently superb, that's too short for a low goalscorer, in my opinion.
Unsurprisingly, Mohamed Salah is second favourite with a generous 10/1 (William Hill) on offer. The Liverpool wide man will find it hard to come close to his 32-goal haul last term and will likely be judged on that. Unless Liverpool win the title and he leads them to it, I can't see him winning back-to-back awards.
Next up is Eden Hazard, linked with a move away and featuring in a weak-looking Chelsea side. He's won the award in the past, but that year he excelled for Jose Mourinho's pragmatic title winners – it's hard to imagine the Blues impress a great deal this term and there's a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
As ever, Harry Kane appeals with ever-improving goal tallies. The England captain has fired in 21, 25, 29 and 30 times in each of the last four campaigns and you'd bet your bottom dollar he'll be one of the division's top scorer once more.
Tottenham have been astoundingly consistent under Mauricio Pochettino and Kane has been the leader of all things good. With 14/1 (SkyBet) available, I wouldn't put anybody off taking a punt. Kane began last season at just 10/1 and is as short as 7/1 elsewhere.
Paul Pogba will undoubtedly have backers at 20/1 (Ladbrokes), but I can't see him thriving enough under Jose Mourinho to scoop this prestigious award.
Roberto Firmino, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Eriksen and Romelu Lukaku are a handful of other names that will attract each-way backers and optimistic punters, but I feel the value lies elsewhere.
Instead, I'd be looking to put my money on Leroy Sane to pick up the gong.
Leroy Sane (20/1 Bet365)
Best priced at 20/1 (Bet365), the young winger arrives fresh from an extended break after inexplicably missing out on Germany's eventual nightmare World Cup campaign. Right off the bat, he can get a headstart on fellow fatigued stars.
The German ended last season in second place for assists, sixth for most successful dribbles per-game and 14th for most key passes per-game, but never truly captured the headlines ahead of his teammates.
Sane quietly nicked the PFA Young Player of the Year award from the grasp of teammate Raheem Sterling after bagging 10 goals and 15 assists in Man City's record-breaking title success. While his goal tally wasn't groundbreaking, it doubled from his maiden season in 2016/17 and he picked up five times as many assists.
His most notable traits on the surface are his lightning speed and close ball control, but the 22-year-old also deserves high praise for his intelligence. When it comes to playing on the last man, perfecting runs to beat an offside trap, drifting inside from wide positions and, ultimately, having the composure to put chances away, Sane is exceptional.
With support from Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, de Bruyne, David Silva, Sterling, Riyad Mahrez et al and tactical guidance from the best in the business Pep Guardiola, Sane has the potential to be world class and will undoubtedly improve once more next season.
There's a strong chance City defend their league crown, while midfielders regularly capture the hearts of voters when it comes to this award. Sane puts solid stats on the board, affects results with his numbers and almost always offers a minimum 7/10 performance. Punt on him to truly break out in his third year on Manchester.
2018/19 PFA Player Of The Year – Leroy Sane