THE talented Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) has analysed the Player of the Year market and nominated his favourite fancy ahead of the big 2019/20 kick-off.
WLB Season Preview 2019/20 | Premier League: Player of the Year
Virgil van Dijk bucked all of the trends to clinch last season's PFA Player of the Year – and you couldn't convince a single soul that any other player remotely deserved it. The commanding Dutchman became the first defender to win the award since John Terry in the 2004/05 season and only the sixth-ever in the award's 46-year history.
So we now know that defenders only account for 8% of the POTY award but what else should we should consider when looking at who can claim the player-voted accolade. Here's a couple of key trends over the last decade:
- Only one player has won the award on more than one occasion with Gareth Bale in 10/11 and 12/13 – he also is one of just four players to have won it since the Premier League's inception in 1992 (Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo).
- The last 10 winners broken down by position are – zero goalkeepers, one defender, six midfielders and three strikers.
- Three of the last 10 winners also played for the Premier League winners.
- Three of the last 10 winners were the Top Goalscorer that season.
- Only one player has won the Young Player of the Year award in the same season (Gareth Bale '12/13)
- Three of the last 10 winners were playing in their first full season at their respective club (N'Golo Kante, Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk).
- The last 10 winners broken down by team are – Liverpool x3, Chelsea x2, Tottenham x2, Man Utd x1, Leicester x1 and Arsenal x1.
Manchester City have had quite the absence from the award over the past ten years even despite winning the Premier League on four occasions. The winners in those years were Robin van Persie (11/12), Luis Suarez (13/14), Mo Salah (17/18) and Virgil van Dijk (18/19).
Yet it is Kevin de Bruyne that heads the market at 6/1 (SkyBet) though, as vital as he is to Pep Guardiola's system, there are better options that will catch the eye. His best goal returns in any Premier League season is eight and last season he missed a load of game time through injury. He's no worthy favourite.
Others at the front of the market include Mo Salah at 10/1 (SkyBet) and Bernado Silva at 11/1 (SkyBet). The former won the award just two seasons ago, as well as the Golden Boot, and even matched those exploits last season with 22 goals in the league. That wasn't enough to win the award a second time around which was in no doubt down to Van Dijk's empowering presence at the heart of their defence.
Silva, however, was in for both PFA awards last term – even the young player accolade despite being just 24 years of age – and was beaten to it by teammate Raheem Sterling.
Sterling to buck recent trends?
It is Raheem Sterling next in line in the betting odds at 12/1 (SkyBet) who makes most appeal. He will have to replicate Van Dijk's defiance of the trends to do so but he's a player that certainly could. Only two players have followed up the YPOTY award by winning the overall one – Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Sterling's ability and quality has constantly improved under the stewardship of Guardiola with nothing to suggest that it will stop there. Across the last two seasons, the 24-year-old has scored 35 goals and laid on 21 assists. It's only really Salah that has matched both facets in midfield over that same period of time.
If Van Dijk's influence on Jurgen Klopp's squad wasn't so blatantly clear then I think Sterling would have been a shoe-in for the award as City won their fourth Premier League title. This season they have strengthened again whilst Liverpool have sat back and watched – signing no one of note. They will be the best two teams in the league again next season but the point gap between the two could begin to widen.
Sterling's standing in the team is that severe, he keeps out Leroy Sane who also won the YPOTY the season before. His role will also hold more of a footing as David Silva calls time on his City career this coming season. It feels as if Raheem has been around for years – and he has – but he's still only 24.
City have won four Premier League trophies and not once in that time has any of their players picked up an award for their contribution – that seems a little odd. In fact, no player from the blue side of Manchester has ever even won the award. It's about time someone in their impressive cohort receives praise for their contribution towards what is likely to be a third straight title.
You saw after their FA Cup triumph how badly Guardiola wants the England international to thrive after being on the end of an incredible coaching lecture minutes after they had won the match.
The Premier League reigning champs were just two points off tying the points record they set themselves in the 17/18 season and were five goals short of reaching a similar centurion mark. It's very possible that Guardiola guides his team to further success, breaking both of these barriers and smashing the records they have previously set. Sterling will be a hugely vital part of that making him appear to be insane value at 12/1.
Other players who are worth a mention but were just short of making our list for this coming Premier League campaign are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at 33/1 (Bet365) who could follow Van Persie in winning the award if he can follow up his Golden Boot exploits again next season. Only 30% of the winners have won this award whilst also being named as a Premier League champion.
Another player is Paul Pogba at 33/1 (William Hill) who is always at the brunt of criticism – though, this award is decided by his fellow peers and not by fans. If he performs well and springboards United back into the lofty heights at which they should compete then he would clearly be a no brainer to have played his part in it.
Premier League 2019/20 – Raheem Sterling to be PFA Player of the Year (12/1 SkyBet)