Bleacher Report's Alternative PFA Awards

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2017

Bleacher Report's Alternative PFA Awards

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    Could Claudio Bravo be in the running for one of our less desirable awards?
    Could Claudio Bravo be in the running for one of our less desirable awards?Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The votes have been cast, and soon the winners of the 2017 PFA Awards will be revealed. However, are the awards really reflective of the breadth of his Premier League campaign?

    We at Bleacher Report don't think so, so we've decided to give out a number of "alternative awards." Who was the worst signing of the season? Who scored the best goal? Which player made the most remarkable comeback?

    Read on to discover who's picked up the prizes at our alternative PFA Awards.

Best Player Not on PFA Shortlist: Dele Alli

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    Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    Every year, the final PFA shortlist leaves out one player who appeared to be a certainty. There are several candidates with cause to feel disappointed this season—the likes of David Luiz, Christian Eriksen and Sadio Mane immediately spring to mind.

    However, the outstanding omission is surely Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli.

    While he has made it on to the Young Player of the Year list, Alli really ought to be in the running for the senior prize, too. He has been the outstanding player in a Tottenham side who are not only set to end two decades of hurt by finishing above rivals Arsenal, but who could yet pip Chelsea to the title.

    Perhaps his youth counted against him. Nevertheless, if Alli continues to progress at this rate, it is surely a matter of time before he is dominating the individual awards in English football.

Best Signing: Sadio Mane

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Although his campaign was ended early by injury, Sadio Mane’s first season with Liverpool was still sensational. According to Squawka, he scored 13 goals and assisted a further five in just 27 Premier League appearances.

    More than that, he has reinvigorated Liverpool as an attacking force. Mane’s exhilarating combination of pace, power and skill has made Jurgen Klopp’s side one of the league’s most exciting teams to watch.

    The question now is whether Klopp can still guide Liverpool into the top four without Mane at his disposal. Based on his performances this season, he undoubtedly deserves to be in the Champions League next year.

Biggest Flop: Claudio Bravo

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Claudio Bravo will surely go down as the most disappointing signing of the 2016/17 season. When Pep Guardiola chose to allow Joe Hart to leave Manchester City, replacing him with former Barcelona stopper Bravo, it felt like he was making a point.

    From the moment he made his debut in the Manchester derby, Bravo’s campaign has been littered with errors.

    He might be more capable on the ball than Hart, but he also seems entirely unsuited to other aspects of the Premier League. According to Squawka, he has made just 1.04 saves per goal, suggesting that every other shot against him finds the net. Guardiola seems utterly determined to keep faith with Bravo—but at what cost?

Comeback Player of the Year: Jermain Defoe

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Really, Jermain Defoe’s comeback story began in January 2015 when he returned to the Premier League from Toronto FC.

    However, the manner in which he has gone from strength to strength since then continues to amaze. This season, he earned his first call-up to the England squad since 2013—and marked his reappearance with a goal against Lithuania.

    If Sunderland are indeed relegated, there will surely still be a queue of takers for the 34-year-old Defoe, who must stay in the Premier League if he’s to keep his international ambitions alive.

Rookie of the Year: Ben Gibson

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The criteria for this award were as follows—the player must have been aged 23 or under at the start of the season, and this must be the season in which they made their Premier League debut.

    Given those restrictions, centre-half Ben Gibson is a deserving winner. The Middlesbrough captain has been ever-present in the Premier League, and while Boro's attacking has left plenty to be desired, their defending has been impressively robust.

    There hasn't been much for Middlesbrough fans to cheer this year, but seeing an academy graduate excel in the Premier League has been one definite highlight.

Best Goal: Olivier Giroud

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    This goal should be remembered as the best of this season simply because it's so unique. Arsenal's win over Crystal Palace was otherwise unremarkable, but it will live long in the memory thanks to this extraordinary goal. 

    Alexis Sanchez's cross was a little behind Giroud, but the Frenchman responded superbly to stretch out a leg behind him and flick the ball in off his heel. The fact the ball bounced in off the bar simply added to the aesthetic beauty of the goal.

    It has since been dubbed the "Scorpion goal," drawing comparisons with Rene Higuita's impudent save at Wembley in 1995.

    Andy Carroll's spectacular overhead kick for West Ham United—also scored against Palace—is another strong contender, but it can't match Giroud's for sheer originality.

Worst Miss: Vincent Janssen

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    After narrowly missing out in the "Biggest Flop" category, Vincent Janssen has found his way on to our list of winners.

    It's not been a strong debut season for Janssen. Expectations were high when the Dutch forward joined Spurs from AZ Alkmaar last summer, but thus far he's failed to provide adequate cover or competition for Harry Kane.

    In 2016/17, he has scored just two Premier League goals—and only one of those has come from open play.

    Against Watford in April, Janssen produced his piece de resistance: a remarkable miss that summed up a difficult campaign.

    When the ball was fizzed across the box by Kieran Trippier, Janssen was confronted with an empty net. Pretty much any touch would have taken the ball over the line, but instead, Janssen somehow managed to divert the ball on to the crossbar.

    Of course, there was an element of misfortune. Janssen is not a bad player—his luck has just run dry this season, and his confidence has subsequently suffered. The one consolation is that he continues to get into good goalscoring positions. If he is allowed to remain at Tottenham, the only way really is up.

Super-Sub of the Year: Olivier Giroud

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    There's something ironic about the fact that in the season when he effectively lost his place as a regular starter in the Arsenal team, Giroud has picked up two of our alternative awards.

    Having been replaced at centre-forward first by Sanchez and later Danny Welbeck, Giroud responded in superb fashion, regularly coming off the bench to find the net. As of November 2016, he has now scored more goals as a substitute than any other player in Arsenal's history.

    There's still a way to go until he can match Defoe's all-time Premier League tally of 23. He also falls short of former Gunner Kanu, who netted 17 times after coming on.

    Giroud's stats bear out his effectiveness from the bench. According to Squawka, he has started only eight Premier League games yet has racked up nine goals in the competition.