Ranking the PFA Player of the Year Nominees

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalApril 19, 2013

Ranking the PFA Player of the Year Nominees

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    The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) announced the six-strong shortlist for the 2013 Player of the Year award on Friday, with the nominees voted for by their peers.

    Liverpool's Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie of Manchester United and Tottenham's Gareth Bale were obvious inclusions.

    Chelsea pair Juan Mata and Eden Hazard and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick joined the trio.

    Bale and Hazard are also up for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, along with Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere.

    In this article, I will subjectively rank the candidates for the main award. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

     

    All stats provide by whoscored.com. The mechanism for calculating average player rating is explained here.

6. Eden Hazard

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    27 (3) 8 9 1.8 1.9 7.29

     

    Justification for ranking

    Eden Hazard has adapted smoothly to life in the Premier League. The precocious Belgian joined Chelsea for £32 million last summer (via Daily Mail) and has delivered on the immense promise he showed in France with Lille.

    Hazard's ability to work in tight spaces, his searing speed on the ball and endless imagination have made him one of the most exciting players to watch in England this season.

    As part of Chelsea's "Matazar" combination in attacking midfield, Hazard has entertained us with his technical brilliance and played a big role in driving his team into the Europa League semifinals.

    That said, there is still more to come. The 22-year-old can improve on his consistency and is not quite at the level of productivity achieved by his teammate Juan Mata—which explains why he ranks below him here.

    Should he stay in England, Hazard's talent should keep him among the nominees for this award for many seasons to come. 

5. Juan Mata

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    25 (4) 10 11 2.7 2 7.26

     

    Justification for ranking

    Juan Mata has once again been Chelsea's most influential creative force this season. The Spaniard has had a few injury problems and some dips in form yet still led the Premier League in assists and scored 10 goals in the campaign.

    Mata's ability to see passes and exploit space makes him a difficult player to defend against. He floats around in Chelsea's advanced midfield and is the glue between defence and attack.

    The 24-year-old's finishing has arguably improved this season, and he may add a Europa League title to the Champions League triumph he enjoyed last season.

    Mata will be seen as a more exciting proposition than the next man on the list, but when you talk about consistent excellence throughout the season, it's hard to argue that he belongs a place below him.

4. Michael Carrick

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    30 (2) 1 4 1.1 0.5 7.09

     

    Justification for ranking

    It's not all about goals and assists. Michael Carrick has been the calm conductor at the fulcrum of Manchester United's midfield this season and is arguably the second-biggest reason they are on the verge of a 20th league title (the first can be found on the next slide).

    Carrick's numbers are not particularly impressive. He doesn't lead a passing category and is well down the list for average key passes (74th).

    Some things are beyond simple measurement, though. Carrick's influence has been to set United's tempo while also shielding their back four. He has become a vital component of Sir Alex Ferguson's team and one of the first names on the teamsheet.

    If you're still looking for numbers, however, read this from Squawka: "Carrick has completed more forward passes than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this season. That’s more than Xavi, Pirlo, Schweinsteiger, anyone."

    Many will disagree with his position in this ranking, but don't forget that Carrick's fellow players nominated him. Sometimes the most spectacular work is the simplest.

3. Robin van Persie

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    30 (3) 21 8 1.8 3.8 7.67

     

    Justification for ranking

    Sir Alex Ferguson's summer capture of Robin van Persie proved to be a masterstroke. The elegant Dutch assassin has scored goals freely and been the defining element of United's run to an inevitable title success.

    Had van Persie maintained his remarkable early-to-midseason form throughout the campaign, he would have won this award easily.

    But he pays the price for a dip in form. The van Persie who won games for United has gone missing of late and appears to have lost a little of his early sparkle. He'll be back and has already taken United to the title, but he doesn't deserve to win the PFA award for the second year running.

2. Gareth Bale

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    27 17 3 2.4 4.9 7.93

     

    Justification for ranking

    Gareth Bale will rightly win the PFA Young Player award at a canter. The Spurs winger has been his team's best player by a country mile and added to his reputation as one of the world's most exciting young talents.

    On his best day, Bale has proved to be practically unplayable this season. His combination of pace, poise and power has overwhelmed the best defences in the Premier League, and his 17 goals from midfield are testament to his composure in front of goal.

    If he has a weakness, it's his occasional inability to make the right choice in the right situation. Like the man who tops this list, Bale is sometimes guilty of going alone when he ought to pass.

    It's very, very close, but on the basis of the next man being a slightly bigger contributor to his team and having been marginally more consistent, Bale comes second.

1. Luis Suarez

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    Premier League season in numbers

    Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Average key passes Shots per game Average rating
    32 22 4 2.7 5.7 7.86

     

    Justification for ranking

    Where would Liverpool be without Luis Suarez? The Uruguayan is billed as a lone striker, but he does so much work for Brendan Rodgers' team that he gives the impression that Liverpool have two up front and an extra man in midfield.

    Once again, his finishing has been devastating. Suarez has 22 Premier League goals this season and did so without the standard of supply line afforded to van Persie.

    He can score goals from anywhere with both his feet and his head, and he is arguably the most skillful operator in the penalty area in England right now.

    Suarez's all-around technical excellence, his consistent influence and his fierce work rate make him deserving of winning this award.

    Will his reputation as a difficult character and the legacy of his incident with Patrice Evra count against him? Quite possibly, but hopefully the voting players base their decisions on performance rather than perceived personality flaws.

    If they do, Suarez wins.