The new Premier League season is almost here, and with some of the world’s best players on show, there’s plenty of top level action to look forward to. One market of interest at this early stage is the PFA Player of the Year, and Raheem Sterling looks a great outsider for the title after his big money move to Manchester City.
Eden Hazard took the prize last season, and he bids to become the first player to win back to back awards since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007 and 2008. Other recent winners of the prestigious award include Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Luis Suarez, which shows the prize goes almost exclusively to attacking talent. John Terry was the last out-and-out defender to be crowned Player of the Year in 2005, so from a betting point of view it’s best to look at forward players.
Hazard was unplayable at times last season and fully deserved the Player of the Year Award, which came just a year after he won PFA Young Player of the Year. It was an impressive double for the Belgian attacker and he is clear favourite to retain the award again this year. Chelsea will be relying on his precocious talents once again, but he will continue to be marked out as the danger man by opposing teams, and is short enough at the odds.
Sergio Aguero – +800 with BetVictor
If Sergio Aguero can stay fit for the entire season he has every chance of finishing top scorer, and potentially bagging this award along the way. Of course, that’s a big if, and he’s been particularly unfortunate with injuries during his time at Man. City. There’s too much risk at that price, and he is passed over for that reason.
Sanchez looked a real contender for this prize last season when he hit a purple patch for Arsenal, dragging them up the table in his first season, but his form dipped significantly later in the season and there’s been no respite for the Chilean striker. After the World Cup and a full Premier League season he helped his country to Copa America success, and the Gunners are uncertain if he will be fully fit for the start of the season. It will be tough to have the same sort of impact that he had last year.
Fabregas is a delightful footballer, but one whose work often goes unnoticed. He sprays the ball about in the middle of the park with ease, and generally pops up with his fair share of goals, but this award tends to go to a player that stands out rather than one who knits a side together.
Diego Costa certainly falls into the former category, and he was another who had a huge impact when he first arrived on English shores. He looked like scoring whenever he took the field for Chelsea in the early part of the season, but like Aguero, he has had a troubled time with injuries. His problematic hamstrings have reared up again during preseason, and he’s another who may not make the start of the campaign.
Wayne Rooney may be ready to thrive in a new forward role under Louis van Gaal, but whether he can win this award is another question. He has been one of the Premier Leagues greatest strikers over the last decade or so, but younger blood is starting to grab more of the headlines, and it would be a massive achievement for Rooney to win the award for a second time, after taking it in 2010.
The rumour that Manchester United put in a huge bid for Harry Kane in the last few days, is a pointer towards Rooney’s potential strike partner, and he could be paired up with a rival for this award. Kane won PFA Young Player of the year last season after his meteoric rise at Spurs, and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Eden Hazard by scooping the two awards in consecutive seasons. He also took part in a summer tournament for the England under-21 side, and the speculation about his future won’t help his start to the season. If he gets the move and hits the ground running he could well run away with this award, but there are too many if’s to make him a bet.
The player that does stand out at a very nice price is Raheem Sterling. His controversial £49 million move from Liverpool to Man. City finally went through, and the young England star has looked right at home with his new teammates in preseason. It took him just three minutes of his debut to open his account for the club, and he has all the attributes to be a success at the Etihad. His performances for Liverpool were eye-catching enough for him to be taken to the 2014 world cup, and he is seen as an integral part of England’s future. With such a glittering array of talent around him, he can only improve, and it will be fascinating to see him link up with the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
All signs suggest that he will get plenty of game time at City, and his odds could shorten rapidly for this prize of he gets off to a good start. He’s also worth backing to take PFA Young Player of the Year alongside the bet. Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have won both awards in the same season recently, but if he doesn’t take the main prize, he looks a great contender for Young Player.
Raheem Sterling to be PFA Young Player of the Year – +800 with BetVictor
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