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.

Top five strikers in the world

Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

The highly sought-after Polish international was snapped up on a free by Bayern when his contract at rivals Borussia Dortmund expired. He signed a pre-contractual agreement in January 2014 after much speculation about the clinical striker and his future and he was then presented to Munich fans in July of the same year. His world class forward play leading a phenomenally talented Dortmund front line earned him the move to the most successful team in German football and he hasn’t looked back.

His move garnered much controversy, as had his team-mate Mario Gotze’s move the year before. But Lewandowski’s attitude endeared him to the Dortmund fans meaning his departure didn’t leave them with as bitter of a taste in their mouth.

Lewandowski’s style of play can be seen as the ultimate striker. Using a combination of strength, speed and hard-work as well as his assured technical ability to cause havoc in opposition boxes. 

To date he has made 333 career club appearances, scoring 179 goals. He has played for Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He has also made 66 appearances for the Polish national team, who he captains, scoring 23 goals.

He has won one Ekstraklasa, one Polish cup, one Polish SuperCup, two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and one DFL-Supercup.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

His name is forever etched in the mind of Premier League fans after that dramatic title win in 2012, City fans have even gone to the length of getting his name lengthened on the back of their shirt to commemorate Aguero’s (and Martin Tyler’s) contribution that day. 

The Argentine striker has made a reputation for himself since arriving at Manchester City in 2011 and that reputation is that he is one of the deadliest strikers the Premier League has ever seen. As of right now he has the highest goals per minute ratio in the history of the Premier League averaging a goal every 115 minutes.

Aguero’s diminutive stature is what allows him to utilise his agility and acceleration, but his stocky build makes him surprisingly hard to shake off the ball despite his lack of height. Combine his physical attributes with his close control and shooting ability and it’s hard not to see why City paid £35million for him and why he is one of the best strikers not just in the Premier League, but also the world.

To date, Aguero has made 435 club career appearances, scoring 221 goals. He has played for Independiente, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. He has also made 59 appearances for the Argentina national team at senior level, scoring 22 goals.

He has won one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Intertoto Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two Premier League titles, one Capital One Cup, one FA Comunity Shield and an Olympic Gold Medal. 

Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Best player in the world, best player of his generation, best player ever – these are just some of the opinions held of Lionel Messi by fans, pundits, professionals and coaches alike. What I can’t deny is that Messi is one of the most naturally talented footballers I have ever seen.

Ever since he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 2005, the Argentine has set the world alight and on the date he made his debut I’m not sure many knew just how significant it would be for the footballing world as Messi has broken record after record since. He has broken 49 individual records including La Ligas highest ever goal scorer, Barcelonas highest scorer in their history, most goals in a calendar year and most FIFA Balon d’Or awards. All this and he is still only 27.

Messi has always been known for his pace, acceleration and dribbling but add onto that his incredible passing range and his unerring finishing ability and you have one of the most versatile attacking players ever seen. No matter where you go you will always hear the Ronaldo vs Messi debate as to who is better despite them having two contrasting styles of play , personally I’m just glad that we have the privilege of witnessing them both in our generation.

Messi has so far been a one club man, having been at Barcelona his entire career to date. He had made 495 club appearances for Barcelona, scoring 406 goals. He has also made 97 appearances for the Argentina national team, scoring 45 goals. He was named captain of Argentina in 2011.

He has won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, five Supercopa de Espanas three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups and one Olympic Gold Medal. 

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Brazilian-born striker has set the Premier League alight since his £32million move last year. His physicality and lethal striking instincts have provided Chelsea with the striker they’ve needed since Didier Drogba departed, who ironically rejoined as Costa signed – although no longer at the peak of his powers.

After Falcao left Atleti in 2013 and Costa was made the main striker his strike rate improved after he was made the focal point of the attack. Before that he was very much a fringe player at Vicente Calderon, moving on loan to three different teams and even being sold and brought back again before his successful run in the first team.

Costa’s physical style of play has seen him make an excellent start to his career in England, scoring 17 goals in 27 games for Chelsea and making him a constant thorn in opposition sides. He gained a reputation at Atletico Madrid for his nasty streak but it was utilised by Diego Simeone who helped Costa enhance his discipline but without losing any of his aggression and determination. His attitude added to his excellent physical stature and pace, mixed with his scoring abilities make him an ideal target man for Chelsea, he could prove to be the main protagonist in Chelsea’s title hunt.

The Spanish striker has made 305 career club appearances, scoring 120 goals. He has played for Penafiel, Braga, Celta, Albacete, Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. He has made two appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring no goals. But after his successful request to change his nationality to Spanish, he has made seven appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring one goal.

He has won one La Liga, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one Capital One Cup.

Luis Suarez – Barcelona

Luis Suarez was the jewel in the Anfield crown during his time at Liverpool, although his time there was mired with controversy he will no doubt go down as one of the most loved strikers in the clubs history, as well as one of the most controversial. His form at Liverpool earned him a £75million move to Barcelona last summer where he endured a tough start but his form has since picked up.

The Uruguayan went from being the main man in Liverpool to being in Messi and Neymar’s shadow but it seems to be a role that Suarez has managed to adapt to. His assists and all-round play, added to his recent improved goal scoring form have meant he has slotted in well in the Barcelona front line, making the most fearsome attacking trio in world football.

Suarez’s style of play mixes his superb technical ability with speed and work-rate. A style of play which seems to be synonymous with South American footballers nowadays mixing flair and skill with an industrious, passionate work ethic.

To date Suarez has made 389 club career appearances, scoring 233 goals. He has played for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona. He has also made 82 appearances for the Uruguay national team, scoring 43 goals.

He has won one Primera Division, one Eredivisie, one KNVB Cup, one Johan Cruyff Shield, one Capital One Cup and one Copa America.