Premier League

Who is in the running to be named PFA Player of the Year?

With the PFA Player of the Year due to be announced on Friday, we take a look at the main contenders including De Bruyne, Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold.

Who is in the running to be named PFA Player of the Year?
ADRIAN DENNIS AFP

The Professional Footballers’ Association Men’s Player of the Year is widely regarded as the top individual award in English football as it is chosen by the players themselves. Last year’s award was won by Virgil van Djik who became the first defender to win it since John Terry in 2005. He was the second consecutive Liverpool player to be named as the Premier League’s best after Mohamed Salah won the award the year before.

But despite Liverpool being the runaway leaders this campaign the current favourite for the award is a Manchester City player, Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian playmaker has notched 11 goals and is one assist away from equalling the Premier League record for a single season set by Thierry Henry (20). City boss Pep Guardiola described him as the best in the world after his side’s 4-0 victory over the champions three weeks ago.

But it is not just Guardiola who rates De Bruyne’s chances, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has also put the midfielder forward as a potential Player of the Year contender. Speaking after Liverpool’s title was confirmed, Carragher told the Sky Sports Football Preview podcast: “Kevin de Bruyne is, for me, the best player in the Premier League… Certainly it’s a toss-up between him and Virgil van Dijk.”

“If I could pick one player to have in my team, it’s a toss-up between those two.”

Van Dijk double unlikely

Van Djik appears unlikely to win the award having won it last season but there are many more Liverpool players in contention. Jordan Henderson is currently the second favourite to win the award which would complete an incredible 18 months for the Liverpool captain having already lifted the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Premier League.

His teammate Salah admitted in a recent interview that he thought that Henderson had been the most important player in Liverpool’s success. He said: “We had a great season but if I will choose one I will pick Henderson because he is our captain, he is here for 8-9 years and faced criticism many times and got over it… He is a great person also and tries to help everyone always."

The goals of Salah and Sadio Mané have been instrumental this season and both have now scored at least 20 goals in all competitions for a third consecutive season. Their goals have fired Liverpool to silverware in recent years and former Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid striker Nicolas Anelka believes that they are up there with the very best. Anelka said: “Salah and Mane are ranking in the top five best players in the world right now.”

The case for Alexander-Arnold 

Former England forward Eni Aluko made a case for Trent Alexander-Arnold to win the award, noting how the Liverpool right-back has changed what is expected from the role. Not only is he a key part of the meanest defence in the Premier League but he has also contributed 12 assists for a second consecutive season. She said: “You look at someone like Trent Alexander-Arnold who’s got double figures in assists and is behind only De Bruyne, and he’s a right-back. He’s defied any sense of what that position is, he’s completely changed it. He does everything.”

Before Wednesday’s fixture against Chelsea Jürgen Klopp was asked to weigh in on the debate with so many of his team in contention. But having already secured the one prize that Liverpool fans crazed this season he was happy to stay out of it.

My job is to bring as many players possible to the election and we have a few. I am really happy we've played the season we have. All the players have been incredible. Thank god I don't make this decision!”