PFA Young Player of the Year

Following from my look at the PFA Player nominees, here is my look at the Young Player nominees! Now, shout outs this time though unfortunately!

Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea

At the age of 22 Courtois has managed to dislodge Chelsea’s former number one and in my opinion the best goalkeeper of the Premier League in Petr Cech. He is one of a handful of goalkeepers who are challenging Manuel Neuer as the world’s best and I feel that the Belgian is Neuer’s closest rival in terms of not just his ability, but also his potential.

Courtois came straight into the Chelsea team this season after several excellent seasons and showings on loan at Atletico Madrid where he made his name as one of the world’s most promising stoppers. Aside from his incredible shot-stopping ability and athleticism, Courtois’ mental ability and composure help put confidence into the back four in front of him, as well as his imposing 6″ 6 frame.

David De Gea – Manchester United

The first of four players who are on the Young Player of Year shortlist as well as the Player of the Year shortlist, as well as being the second goalkeeper on the list. To read my full inspection into De Gea’s inclusion then read my bit on him in the PotY shortlist review. The one part I will say here is the Spanish internationals performances this season are the only set which have not been consistently scapegoated by United fans, a testament to the amazing season De Gea has had, he is a lot of the reason why United occupy such a high spot in the table.

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

This seems to be the year where all the young players take over the Player of the Year category as well, with Harry Kane being the second on this shortlist to occupy a place in both lists and personally he is my favourite to pick up the Young Player award. Kane’s surge to prominence has been a shining light ins dull season for Tottenham who are battling for a Europa League spot as a much-coveted Champions League spot has fallen slightly out of their reach. The question on everyone’s lips will be if the 21-year-old can replicate his excellent form over the coming seasons.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

If people doubted that Coutinho deserved a place on the Player of the Year shortlist then. His inclusion in the Young Player of the Year shortlist can’t be in question. The Brazilian has been one of two Liverpool players who have been consistently excellent over the course of the season (Jordan Henderson being the other) and who can really hold their heads high despite overall team disappointment. Coutinho will be another hoping to kick-on next season and really make an impact in the Premier League and try and push his team if not to a title then a Champions League spot.

Raheem Sterling – Liverpool

Finally, another player who is only up for the Young Player of the Year award. After a blistering start to the campaign, carrying on his form from last season, Sterling needed to have a break and after the 20-year-old winger returned to action we saw much of the exciting play return with him and he was back to his best, interchanging with his team-mates as part of an exciting Liverpool attack.

Sterling has returned his best-ever goals tally so far of his career this season netting 11 so far. Despite contract talks stalling and wage demands becoming astronomical there is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool would prefer to keep Sterling, who if he can keep his feet on the ground will have an excellent career and Liverpool will want to come to some sort of compromise to keep the prospect.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

The Belgian is the last player on the list, he however is also up for both awards. He is my favourite and the bookies favourite to pick up the Player of the Year award with Spurs striker Kane being the favourite to pick up the Young Player award. But don’t be surprised after his best season so far in West London if Hazard picks up both gongs like Gareth Bale in 2012-13.

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PFA Player of the Year nominations and David Luiz

Firstly I’m going to start off by giving a shout out to David Luiz. It is not your fault that PSG decided to fork out a monumentally stupid sum of money on you, man. It meant Jose Mourinho and Chelsea were laughing their way to the bank, €50 million wasn’t it? Even so, when Luiz has a defensive rock like John Terry or Thiago Silva next to him he has the heart of a roaring lion, it goes with his permy mane of hair that envelops his cranium, a cranium where defensive knowledge and solidity doesn’t seem to inhabit. Now I like Luiz, I think he’s a good footballer but defensively he can be so slack. With Germany, Luis Suarez and Barcelona being the most notable beneficiaries of such mistakes. Suarez loves a nutmeg on the poor guy doesn’t he?

Now onto the real business; PFA Player of the Year nominations, and here’s my take on them:

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Spaniard arrived at Stamford Bridge at the start of the season with a rough reputation and equally as high expectations. But his goalscoring exploits and all-round play have more than justified the hefty price that Chelsea paid for him. His strong and robust style of play have helped the Brazilian-born frontman in the Premier League with a lot of opposition players also trying to get under his skin, but Costa has risen above any negativity drawn towards him and scored goals for his new club.

His great start to the season saw him combine with fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas to devastating effect. He scored seven goals in his first four games and now currently stands on 18 in 22 in the league, which looks set to have contributed to firing Chelsea to their first league title since 2010.

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

21-year-old Kane has had an incredible breakthrough season in his first full season in the Tottenham first-team. He was initially restricted to cup and Europa League games but his good goalscoring form saw him usurp Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor and demand a place in Spurs starting 11 where his rise to prominence has been a shining light in a mediocre season for Tottenham. 

He is currently the joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League with 20 goals and he became the first Spurs player to get 30 goals in a season in all competitions since Gary Linekar in 1991-92. His fine form was recognised with a call-up to the senior England national team where he scored on his debut after 79 seconds of being on the pitch after coming on as a substitute.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

The Chilean winger joined from Barcelona in the summer for a fee of £35million, making him Arsenal’s second most expensive signing ever. After being a consistently good player for Barcelona and Chile (especially during the World Cup) there were initial doubts as to whether Sanchez could adapt to the Premier League but he quickly dispelled any doubts by producing moments and goals of class and ingenuity for Arsenal consistently over the course of the season.

Sanchez’s work-rate and determination are just as vital in his repertoire as his South American flair.  It is these traits which have endeared him to Arsenal fans just as much as his 22 goals in 45 games in all competitions this season. 

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

Personally, I think Hazard is the favourite for the Player of the Year crown and it’s a long-time coming as it’s the second time in a row he has been nominated. He is the current holder of the PFA Young Player of the Year award and has been the main component in Chelsea’s title chase.

He’s a vital part in the fluid attacking unit that Chelsea possess with his brilliant dribbling skills, balance and touch which have helped him wreak havoc among defences this season. He has scored 18 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions this season as well as laying on heaps of assists for his Chelsea team-mates. In my opinion he has consistently been the best and most exciting player in the Premier League this season and him winning Player of the Year would be a just reward for his efforts.

David De Gea – Manchester United

The Spaniard used to be a scapegoat for Man United’s failings but his talent and potential was never in doubt. After a bad start to his career in England he is now regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in the Premier League but in the world.

The Red Devils had a poor start to the season by their high standards and many fans were rightfully frustrated with the team. Even when they did manage to win fans were still disappointed with their play, one player they were never disappointed with was De Gea. He has produced countless match-winning saves and on occasion looked unbeatable between the sticks and is one of the main reasons why United sit so pretty where their early and mid-season form suggested they wouldn’t be so well off.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

The 22-year-old playmaker has been a controversial inclusion in the shortlist but he is in the shortlist nonetheless and there are obvious reasons as to why. He has been a standout member of the Liverpool team this season producing brilliant goals and moments while consistently playing well to help their push for a coveted Champions League spot.

Countinho’s pace, vision and dribbling skills have allowed him to influence games like no other Liverpool player has been able to do. He has produced important goals in big games and has really stepped up in the eyes of not just Liverpool fans but his Premier League peers as well, which despite the disagreements as to whether he should be in the shortlist or not, justifies his inclusion.

Best goalkeepers in the world

“Yay another top five series!” I hear you scream in delight. And yes, I am now doing a top five series but instead of saying my top five positional ever, I’m going to do them as a current selection, just one rule though, if there is a player in the top five ever, I can’t use them in the top five current series, simple! Again, just like the top five ever it will be based on my own personal opinion, backed by evidence.

Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus

To be honest, Buffon was unlucky to not get into my top five players ever, he was just pipped to the post by Spain and Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas. But he was the first name I thought of for greatest in the world.

He has been named IFFHS goalkeeper of the year four times and was also named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century by the same organization. He has made 661 career club appearances to date and became the most expensive goalkeeper ever in 2001 when Juventus forked out £32million for the stopper’s transfer from Parma.

Buffon is Italy’s highest capped Goalkeeper with 126 caps, only being behind Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro in overall stakes.

He has won a UEFA Cup, one Coppa Italia, four Supercoppa Italia, three Serie A titles and one Serie B title as well as the 2006 World Cup.

Petr Cech – Chelsea

Petr Cech’s form since his transfer to Chelsea in 2004 has meant that the London club have never had to worry about getting a replacement for the Czech international due to his consistent reliance between the sticks.

Cech’s impact on Chelsea was seen straight away in his first season where he set a Premier League record of 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal (which has since been broken by Edwin Van Der Sar). He was also given the Golden Glove award for keeping 21 clean sheets in his first season.

The Czech giant’s form dropped after a severe head injury suffered in a league match against Reading in 2006 after a challenge from Stephen Hunt but since his return Cech has been instrumental in helping Chelsea to a further eight trophies including a much craved Champions League trophy last year, a run in which Cech saved two penalties en route to the final.

Cech has made 561 career club appearances to date and has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles, two League Cups and one Champions League trophy so far in his career.

Internationally he has made 100 appearances for Czech Republic so far.

David De Gea – Manchester United

After a hugely critical start to his Manchester United career, De Gea has since flourished into an excellent shot stopper. Signed in 2011 as a replacement for the retired Edwin Van Der Sar, De Gea was thrust into criticism after a few mistakes.

Since then De Gea has proved vital in helping Man United to this year’s league title as well as putting in an amazing performance in a 1 – 1 draw at the Bernabeu. Before Boxing Day, De Gea had kept nine clean sheets in 40 games, but since he has kept 10 clean sheets in 15 games. An excellent improvement by any standards.

De Gea has so far made 153 appearances in his short career and looks to be a promising ‘keeper in the future, not just for Man United but for the Spanish national team as well where he is regarded as the long-term successor to Spanish legend Iker Casillas. De Gea’s short career to date has also seen him win a UEFA Europa League, a UEFA Super Cup, one Premier League title and an FA Community Shield.

Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich

The big German keeper has made a big name for himself after his transfer to Bayern Munich for £20million in 2011, making him the second most expensive goalkeeper ever. But it was easy to see why Bayern would pay so much for Neuer as his reflexes, shot stopping abilities and commanding nature have helped see them back to the summit of German football.

During his first few weeks at Bayern he already went on to break a club record of most clean sheets held in a row, going 1000 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, a record which was previously held by Munich’s legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

So far he has made 295 career club appearances, winning a German League Cup, one German Cup, one Bundesliga and a German Supercup in the process. Also establishing himself as the German national team’s first-choice goalkeeper, already accumulating 38 caps for his national team.

Hugo Lloris – Tottenham

Is this a controversial decision? Oh well, I don’t care. I love Lloris as a goalkeeper and think his reflexes, shot stopping skills and effectiveness in one-on-one situations are incredible.

Despite a difficult first couple of months at Tottenham after his transfer from Lyon, Lloris has gone on to establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper over veteran Brad Friedel. His first league start for Tottenham spelled the end of Friedel’s 310 consecutive league game run, not in vain though as Lloris kept a clean sheet in a 3 – 0 win over Aston Villa.

Lloris’ career so far has seen him amass 318 career club appearances, as well as two trophies – one Coupe de France and a Trophee des Champions. He has also established himself as the French national team’s number one, making 45 appearances and being made team captain in February 2012.

There’s my top five goalkeepers in the world at the moment, what do you think? Also a big mention goes to Guillermo Ochoa who plays for Ajaccio in France. Youtube him if you can, incredible agility!