In the last ten years, this award has been won by illustrious names such as Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard – and it is the last mentioned player who is looking to emulate Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Robbie Fowler by winning the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons.
This accolade is open to all players in English football aged 23 or under at the beginning of the current league season and while the priority for all involved is to help their sides maintain a tilt at the Premier League title, this is a very prestigious accolade indeed.
Kane and very able
Tottenham Hotspur’s young striking sensation, Harry Kane must be one of the leading contenders as the 21 year-old forward has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the current campaign. Kane has hit 13 Premier League goals for Spurs – and amazingly, all of those have come since a free-kick winner in a 2-1 away victory at Aston Villa in early November. Kane is a natural finisher who scores all types of goals and his rise to the top has been so rapid, that he looks to be a cast-iron certainty to be named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Lithuania in late March, barring injury. Kane is already a fans favourite at the Lane – as his two goal second-half salvo overturned their local rivals Arsenal recently to enhance their admiration for their young hero.
Chelsea look on course to regain the Premier League title for the first time in five seasons, and one of the main reasons for Jose Mourinho’s side’s success is down to the Belgian winger, Eden Hazard. The 24 year-old has been one of the league’s shining lights since his arrival from Lille in 2012. Hazard has scored nine goals for the Stamford Bridge side this season and has provided numerous assists for his illustrious team mates. With a new five-and-a-half year contract in his back pocket, Hazard is set fair to terrorise Premier League defences for the foreseeable future at least, as the Belgian International hopes to progress into a world star of the game.
Mervyn Day – then of West Ham back in 1975 – is the only goalkeeper to win the PFA Young Player of the Year award, which does highlight the difficulty facing Manchester United’s stopper David de Gea claiming the trophy, but the Spanish International’s performances behind a shaky United defence this season should surely make him into a realistic contender. On occasions, de Gea has performed miracles for United this season – the 3-0 home win over Liverpool being one of the main highlights. Spanish giants, Real Madrid are alleged to be monitoring the player’s contract situation, as the 24 year-old considers his options at United – who will be desperate to keep him and his considerable talents at Old Trafford.
Sterling in need of silverware
Liverpool and England forward, Raheem Sterling is another player for the shortlist as the 20 year-old continues to impress in his fledgling career at Anfield. Sterling has modified his game under manager Brendan Rodgers, from a wide man, to a player who can now play anywhere in the attacking third of the pitch. Sterling has netted five Premier League goals this season, as the young star has been hampered by niggling injuries. However, he has plenty of time left to claim this award, even if it is not this season.
Harry Kane is not the only young star at White Hart Lane as Danish International midfielder, Christian Eriksen has proven this season. The midfielder has scored nine Premier League goals in Tottenham colours so far and has won his team many extra points with crucial goals. 24 year-old Eriksen is a very experienced player for such tender years and Spurs are fortunate to have the opportunity to use the Denmark star in providing the assists for Harry Kane to finish off.