The Premier League has headed into the final international break, which means we’re approaching the endgame now.
That means it’s time to start thinking of individual awards and who can possibly win them. The biggest individual award is obviously the PFA Player of the Year. The current holder is Kevin De Bruyne and he is in the running to retain the award, and would be the first player to do so since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
But is De Bruyne the favourite? Who is rivalling him? We’ve had a look at the 10 favourites for the award according to their Sky Bet odds.
10. Jamie Vardy
Striker, Leicester City
Jamie Vardy looked likely to bag the Golden Boot around Christmas time but just like last season the England striker’s form has slumped after the festive season. However, his performances leading the line as a lively Leicester keep up the pace challenging for second in the league makes him an outside(ish) candidate.
9. John Stones
Defender, Manchester City
Sky Bet odds: 25/1
John Stones has played 18 games in the Premier League this season and Manchester City have won 16 of those (drawing and losing against Manchester United) and as if that wasn’t impressive enough in those 18 games they have kept a colossal 13 clean sheets, conceding just five goals. Stones has re-found his best form and will be a major reason why City win the Premier League this season.
8. Son Heung-min
Sky Bet odds: 22/1
In Spurs’ first 16 games of the season (running up to and including New Year’s Day), Son Heung-min scored 12 times from just 17 shots on target. The South Korean was so lethal that goalkeepers could barely contain him when he managed to find the target. And these weren’t just tap-ins, either, but beautifully crisp finishes that ripped into the back of the net. He’s slowed down since then but 13 goals and nine assists is a very impressive return.
7. Mohamed Salah
Sky Bet odds: 20/1
Despite Liverpool’s problems in front of goal, Mohamed Salah has been as reliable as ever. The Egyptian has scored 17 times and leads the way in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race. Salah was Player of the Year back in 2018 and would love to reclaim the award, but there are better contenders this season.
6. Kevin De Bruyne
Attacking Midfielder, Manchester City
Sky Bet odds: 14/1
The midfield maestro is the reigning player of the year and it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see him retain the award even though two players (Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo) have ever done that. De Bruyne has 11 assists (second in the league) and 16 big chances created (second) this season and has helped drive Man City to the verge of winning the title.
5. Jack Grealish
Attacking Midfielder, Aston Villa
Sky Bet odds: 12/1
It’s rare that modern football allows the genuinely artistic. The Ronaldinhos and Le Tissiers of this world wouldn’t last in today’s hyper athletic game where pressing and positional responsibility carry as much weight as fun, joy and beauty. There are always exceptions, however, and the Premier League’s is Jack Grealish.
A true throwback in more than one way: Grealish is a one-club man playing for the side he’s supported all his life, he wears his socks as low as possible, he’s a youth team product who has rejected moves away in favour of getting Aston Villa promoted, and now he’s here in the Premier League he is strutting his stuff most stupendously. Every match is a rhapsody to his resplendence as he single-handedly carries the Villa attack on his broad shoulders, working miracles every weekend.
4. Ilkay Gundogan
Midfielder, Manchester City
Sky Bet odds: 8/1
Ilkay Gundogan was the first player signed by Pep Guardiola as Manchester City boss. The midfielder promised so much but while he definitely played his part in Man City’s title triumphs in 2018 and 2019, he never felt like a star turn. Now, however, that has all changed. Gundogan has been doing all his usual midfield managing of games, but this season he’s also added goals to his repertoire (12 is as many as he managed in the three previous seasons combined) driving forward into the box and scoring big goals to win City big points.
Most Premier League goals scored in 2021:
10 – İlkay Gündoğan
7 – Harry Kane
6 – Bruno Fernandes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Most Premier League POTM awards in 2021:
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 12, 2021
3. Harry Kane
Sky Bet odds: 9/2
Harry Kane was in an injury race to make Euro 2020 when the break gave him three months of rest and no Euros to worry about. The result? A fully fit Harry Kane unleashing hell on the Premier League. Sixteen goals and 13 assists is a frankly ridiculous output for anyone in the world, and this season is a monument to Kane’s excellence (and a case study on the imperative of Champions League football for Spurs – they surely cannot deny Kane the chance to spend his prime in Europe’s top competitions?)
2. Ruben Dias
Defender, Manchester City
Sky Bet odds: 3/1
Manchester City suffered in 2019/20 primarily because without Vincent Kompany they had no defensive leader, no organiser. Then they signed Ruben Dias, and well, they’ve been incredible ever since. The Portuguese has had a transformative effect on the City back-line and has his partner John Stones looking imperious again. With Ruben Dias anchoring things at the back, Man City have the league’s best defence (21 goals conceded) without having to compromise on their attack (64 goals scored; also a league high). He has been as important to them as Virgil van Dijk was for Liverpool. And Van Dijk won the award in 2019, which is what you’d call precedent.
1. Bruno Fernandes
Attacking Midfielder, Manchester United
Sky Bet odds: 11/10
When it comes to player of the year, you have to take into account the teams they play for. So yes Harry Kane is great but so is Heung-min Son. And all the City boys get to play together so their brilliance makes sense. Bruno Fernandes is the sole difference between Manchester United being sixth-place strugglers and them being arguably the second-best side in the league.
This season Fernandes has 16 goals and 10 assists, with only Harry Kane having had more direct goal involvements. No one has created more big chances than him (17) and his influence over not only Manchester United but the entire Premier League is incredible. Since his debut no one can match his 41 direct goal involvements (24 goals and 17 assists in 43 games played). In fact across Europe’s top five leagues only Robert Lewandowsi (52) and Lionel Messi (54) have more direct goal involvements in the same period, and when those two are the only ones who can outdo you, you know you’re in a special kind of groove.
Bruno Fernandes' Premier League record away from home:
◉ 22 games
◉ 14 wins
◉ 14 goals
◉ 7 assists
◎ 0 defeats
Still undefeated. ? pic.twitter.com/Ra7ppVZsbs
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2021
Bruno Fernandes is Manchester United’s new Eric Cantona, and while he is obviously not going to win the Premier League the case for him winning player of the year is intensely strong. Countless goals, assists and decisive, delirious moments that have turned matches on his head as he sets standards for individual excellence and the team’s overall performance that keep his club riding high. He’s done something no one has managed in the eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired: he’s made Manchester United great again.