Who Will Win Player of the Year?
It has been yet another great season in the Premier League. There have been some truly outstanding individual performers, and the Player of the Year awards will be hotly contested because of it. In this article I look at my top five outstanding candidates and give my verdict on who deserves to take home the honours.
Gareth Bale has taken his game to another level under Andre Villas Boas
Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Gareth Bale is having one of those seasons where everything he touches seemingly turns to gold. He has been showing truly breathtaking form for Tottenham Hotspur and Wales.
Andre Villas Boas must be allowed some of the credit for the performances of the Welsh wonder. He has given Bale a licence to roam and encouraged him to take up more central positions, rather than take up the wide positions he thrived on earlier in his career.
Bale has been incredibly dangerous around the edge of the box, with some fantastic long-range efforts clinching a number of important victories for Spurs as they chase the Champions League places. However, as well as the long-range efforts he has also shown brilliant composure in front of goal with some cool clinical finishes to add to his collection.
He's undoubtedly one of the best players in the world on current form and will have his pick of clubs open to him in the summer. If Spurs can hang on to him they could challenge for the title next season, and he would be many people's pick to win Player of the Year.
Suarez has added more goals to his game this season.
Stu Forster/Getty Images
After all the controversies of last season, Luis Suarez has knuckled down and concentrated on his football, and the results have been spectacular.
He is enjoying the best season of his Liverpool career and arguably his entire career.
Although the quality of his all-around game has never been in doubt, it was his lack of goals that was always the slight concern. His finishing last season was relatively poor, and he finished the campaign with 17 goals. Not a bad total by any stretch of the imagination, but for someone of his quality he should have been scoring more.
He has been clinical this season, thriving on the responsibility handed to him by Brendan Rodgers and responding with 29 goals this season. He is blessed with fantastic close ball control, tenacity and work rate that make him a nightmare for any opposing defender.
Suarez has cemented himself as one of the best center forwards in the game.
Robin Van Persie
Van Persie enjoyed a blistering start to his Manchester United career
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Although he has gone off the boil in recent weeks, Robin Van Persie enjoyed a blistering start to his Manchester United career.
Joining the club from Arsenal to try and fulfill his dream to win trophies, he has scored 23 goals as Manchester United have opened up a 15-point gap at the top of the table.
He was in brilliant form, but having tailed off has seen his side exit the Champions League and FA Cup to Real Madrid and Chelsea, respectively.
With the Premier League title already sewn up, he will already have his eye on next season and the Champions League crown that he so craves. His all-around game has been superb this season, and if his partnership with Wayne Rooney continues to improve he will once again be a frightening force.
Michu has proved to be a real bargain for Swansea
Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Undoubtedly one of the greatest transfer bargains in the history of football.
Signed for the paltry sum of around £2 million from Rayo Vallecano, Michu has been in fine form for Michael Laudrup's side.
Though he often played as a midfielder in Spain, Laudrup recognised his potential to play as a central striker—and what a decision it has proven to be. He has scored 20 goals in 37 games, inspired Swansea to the first trophy in their history and led them into Europe.
The only thing lacking for him has been a call up to the national side. If he carries on the way he has done so far, though, it is surely only a matter of time before Spain comes calling for him.
Juan Mata has continued to sparkle for Chelsea
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
In what has been yet another season of turmoil for Chelsea, the one continuous bright spot has been in the form of Juan Mata.
After enjoying a brilliant debut season in English football in which he scored 12 goals and won the FA Cup and Champions League, the little Spaniard has just gotten better and better.
In 51 games this season he has scored 18 goals and contributed an incredible 30 assists. He has become the key player for Chelsea this season, making them look capable of beating anyone.
He will need to maintain his form if Chelsea are to have any chance of claiming a top-four spot and winning the FA Cup and Europa League.
Don't be surprised if Barcelona or Real Madrid are interesting in acquiring his services in the summer.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
It was an incredibly tough decision deciding who I felt had been the best player of the season. It was an extremely close running between Suarez, Bale and Mata, but for me Suarez just edges it.
He has been brilliant for Liverpool this season, and without his goals, who knows where they would have been this season?
He just seems to get better every time he plays, and if he continues in the same vein he could reach the levels attained by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.