Premier League Team of the Year 2016: Full Lineup, Reaction and Analysis

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistApril 21, 2016

Leicester City's Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and West Ham United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 17, 2016. / AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

The 2015-16 Premier League Team of the Year was named on Thursday, with title front-runners Leicester City dominating the lineup alongside Tottenham Hotspur.

Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year nominees Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Dimitri Payet and N'Golo Kante each made the cut, in a year when the league's perceived "big clubs" were conspicuous by their absence.

West Ham United winger Payet and Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin are the only two outfield players selected not to hail from the King Power Stadium or White Hart Lane, while Manchester United's David De Gea lines up in goal.

The PFA's official Twitter account confirmed the 2015-16 lineup:

Read on for a breakdown of which stars blazed a trail into this season's Premier League Team of the Year, and be sure to comment who you feel should have booked a spot in the lineup.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: David de Gea of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on April 16, 2016 in Manchester, England (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

After coming within inches of leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid last summer, David De Gea stormed back into Manchester United's plans this season and enjoyed arguably his most impressive season to date.

The Spain goalkeeper has once again been responsible for single-handedly earning the Red Devils his share of Premier League points this term, keeping the club within reach of a top-four finish.

De Gea has made a habit of booking his place in the Premier League Team of the Year, and Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News said he should have one more under his belt:

Despite starting the campaign on the bench, De Gea has now kept 14 clean sheets in league competition this term, forming the foundation of a stingy Red Devils defence that's been key to their season.

Left-Back: Danny Rose

TOPSHOT - Tottenham Hotspur's English defender Danny Rose shoots wide during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on April 18, 2016. / AFP / PAUL ELL
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Spurs attack lays a steadfast defence that's quietly gone about its business, of which left-back Danny Rose has played a crucial role.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has breathed a new lease of life into the defender's career, and Rose may even expect to be England's No. 1 choice at left-back for UEFA Euro 2016, so great has his turnaround been.

Goal's Harry Sherlock highlighted Rose's improvements this season:

The 25-year-old former Sunderland loanee has notched three assists and scored one goal in 21 league outings this season, succeeding in 64 per cent of all his dribble attempts, according to Squawka.

Right-Back: Hector Bellerin

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Hector Bellerin of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The fastest feet in the Premier League continued to blaze a path down Arsenal's right wing this season, as Hector Bellerin took steps toward advancing his reputation as a cemented Premier League figure.

The Spaniard displaced Mathieu Debuchy from manager Arsene Wenger's lineup last season and has notched four assists in the Premier League this season, giving his manager a long-awaited solution at right-back.

Barcelona native Bellerin has shown himself to be a rounded asset at full-back, winning 55 per cent of all his duels, per Squawka, and his recovery pace is essential to the Gunners' back four.

Centre-Back: Toby Alderweireld

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10 :  Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on April 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty I
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Pochettino has taken steps to transforming the north Londoners into title challengers this season, and at the heart of that metamorphosis has been the stingiest defence in the league.

While Spurs stalwart Jan Vertonghen has been unsettled by injury concerns, Belgian compatriot Toby Alderweireld, signed last summer after a successful loan at Southampton, has been the team's Mr. Consistent.

As shown by Kristof Terreur of Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the stars of Belgium have formed a steady stream of Team of the Year entrants in recent years:

Comfortable in a three-man back line or as part of a two-man partnership in central defence, Alderweireld's versatility has been key in helping Pochettino cope with injuries and changes in the team.

Centre-Back: Wes Morgan

SUNDERLAND, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10:  Wes Morgan of Leicester City arrives prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Leicester City at the Stadium of Light on April 10, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty
Michael Regan/Getty Images

While others in manager Claudio Ranieri's side provide the spark, centre-back Wes Morgan has been the bedrock in a Leicester defence that's kept clean sheets against the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool this season.

Alongside centre-back partner Robert Huth, Morgan made major improvements to his game for the 2015-16 campaign, and it's partly been his solidity at the back that's allowed the team's offensive marvels to dazzle.

Ted Knutson of StatsBomb took note of the fairytale turnaround both Morgan and the aforementioned Rose have completed in the past year:

The Foxes captain is also Leicester's only outfield player to have played in every minute of their 2015-16 campaign, per WhoScored.com, showing just how exhausting his job in particular has been.

Central Midfield: N'Golo Kante

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14:  Ngolo Kante of Leicester City is chased by Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, Eng
Michael Regan/Getty Images

One of Leicester's three PFA Player of the Year nominees and a Premier League success story few could match this season, N'Golo Kante's first term in the English top flight has been fantastic.

Signed from French side Caen for a reported fee of £5.6 million last summer, the deep-lying midfielder is perhaps the closest thing England has had to Claude Makelele since the Frenchman reigned at Chelsea.

Kante has proved to be a robust and rounded midfielder in just about every sense, but Squawka recently touched upon his tackling as his standout attribute:

Central Midfield: Dele Alli

In terms of Premier League firsts, the 2015-16 campaign has perhaps been a breakthrough term for Tottenham starlet Dele Alli more so than any other player in the division.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10 :  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on April 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Gett
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The former MK Dons playmaker has settled with ease into the top flight and made his first steps in England's senior team, winning six caps for the Three Lions since his debut in October.

Bet365 highlighted the swift nature by which he's taken to the Premier League, juxtaposing his progress against that of his countryman, injury-ravaged Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere:

Winger: Riyad Mahrez

Opinion is split among many as to who has been the most crucial player in Leicester's title challenge this season, with Algeria winger Mahrez regularly touted as the victor in that poll.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The tricky wide man has ensured team-mate Vardy has been supplied with near-endless ammunition this season, with each player perhaps as critical to the other in their individual successes.

Having said that, Mahrez's performances from the right flank have been nothing short of revolutionary, making an impact on Premier League goals few could challenge, per OptaJoe:

Winger: Dimitri Payet

Another of those whose first season in English football has come off without a hitch, West Ham United winger Dimitri Payet may well have taken the award for "Most Exciting Player" were there one to give out this season.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17:  Dimitri Payet of West Ham United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Gett
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's thanks to the France international's set-piece threat and skill in open play that the Hammers even mustered an assault on the top four, hoping to follow Leicester's trend and break up the hold of England's "big clubs."

His tally of nine goals and nine assists has been monumental in guiding the Hammers into their race for a top-four spot, and West Ham chief Slaven Bilic will count him as being worth every penny of last summer's £10.7 million outlay, per the Mirror's Aaron Flanagan.

Like others in the Team of the Year, Payet has seen his contributions for the Hammers noticed by international selectors, and he looks likely to play his part in France's Euro 2016 campaign under manager Didier Deschamps.

Striker: Harry Kane

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10 :  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on April 10 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

England's hopes of Euro 2016 glory look brighter than ever thanks to an upsurge in form from a selection of Three Lions strikers, chief among them being Tottenham talisman Kane.

The 22-year-old endured a slow start to his campaign but fired back in almighty fashion and currently has 24 Premier League goals this season, keeping the Spurs' slim title hopes alive.

After a breakthrough campaign in 2014-15, many suggested Kane was a one-season wonder and couldn't keep that momentum running into this term—those opinions have undoubtedly changed since.

Striker: Jamie Vardy

SUNDERLAND, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10:  Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Leicester City at the Stadium of Light on April 10, 2016 in Sunderland, England
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester's spearhead and probably the most talked-about player in England's top tier this season, Leicester marvel Vardy is sure to go down in club folklore after a mesmerising first term under Ranieri.

The former Fleetwood Town forward broke Ruud van Nistelrooy's record by scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches, as well as earning six caps for England, scoring twice in the process.

Vardy is now on his way to leading Roy Hodgson's England at Euro 2016 and is in the prime of his career at the age of 29, giving lower-league stars the nation over hope of what might come of their own careers.

There's no question Leicester wouldn't have completed such a dramatic title charge were it not for the consistent form of their leading man, who paved their path to possibly making Premier League history.

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