Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur make up eight of the eleven players for this year’s Professional Footballers’ Association Premier League Team of the Year.
How a year makes a difference. This time last year Leicester were miraculously scrapping for their Premier League lives. This year, their individual stars are receiving their well-deserved accolades and the team is two wins from winning the Premier League for the first time.
Captain Wes Morgan, combative midfielder N’golo Kanté, skilful Riyad Mahrez and record-breaker Jamie Vardy make up the contingent from Leicester.
Two of Tottenham’s ever-present back four are in the team: summer signing, Belgium international Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose, who has had a surprisingly strong season – enough so to almost nail down an England Euro spot.
New wonder-kid and now England player, Dele Alli also has made the squad. With the now proven non ‘one-season-wonder’ Harry Kane taking his deserved and Tottenham’s fourth place in the team.
Almost certain to be leaving in the summer, Manchester United’s goalkeeper David De Gea was awarded the Goal Keeper spot.
The final two places were given to Arsenal’s rapid fullback Hector Bellerin, and West Ham’s talisman Dimitri Payet.
The biggest shock was that PFA Player of the Year nominee Mesut Özil was not selected.
— PFA (@PFA) April 21, 2016
The team was set to be revealed at the PFA award ceremony on Sunday 24th April, however, they were forced to publish it following the details being leaked online.
The focus of Sunday evening’s awards will be on Player of the Year, where Kane, Kanté, Mahrez, Özil, Payet and Vardy have been shortlisted. As well as the Young Player of the Year where Alli, Kane, Everton pair Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkely, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Stoke’s Goal Keeper Jack Butland make up the shortlist.
Mahrez has come out as the odds on favourite to win this year’s main award. With three games to go, the Algeria international has provided the second most combined amount of goals and assists in the premier league: 17 goals and 11 assists.
Mahrez joined Leicester City in January 2014 from French Ligue 2 club Le Havre for a mere £400,000. Although he showed flashes of class last season, much like most of his colleagues his true abilities didn’t come to the public’s attention until this season.
Mahrez on his way to London to collect the PFA Player of the Year nchallah
— Maher Mezahi (@MezahiMaher) April 24, 2016
Mahrez has to win the Pfa Player of the Year tonight
— Issa Hassan (@IssaHassan8) April 24, 2016
Mahrez has been utterly superb again today and deserves to win the PFA footballer of the year award, which he will surely pick up tonight.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 24, 2016
If Mahrez wins PFA Player of the Year tonight (cough), he will be just the second player from outside Europe (Suarez) and first from Africa.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 24, 2016
Kane is the current leader for the golden boot, with 24 goals – already three more than he achieved in the entirety of the ground-breaking 14/15 season.
His current goal tally is only one less than relegated Aston Villa’s 25. Kane made his breakthrough into the first team last season and hasn’t looked back. Many pundits and fans alike were concerned he’d be a one-season-wonder. However, he’s more than bared this pressure and consistently delivered this season. He’s now set to lead the line for a very youthful, exciting England team this summer in the European Championships.
Going to be even more pissed off if a Leicester player wins PFA player of the year tonight… cause that award belongs to my Harry!!
— Rummana (@Rummana88) April 24, 2016
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 23, 2016
— Harry Kane (@HKane) April 21, 2016
Jamie Vardy has had an astonishing season and an almost equally astonishing rise from obscurity.
Vardy has been directly involved in more goals than any other player this season: 22 goals and 8 assists.
In December, Vardy broke the Premier League record for scoring in eleven consecutive matches. At the same time he became a cult hero for the Leicester faithful, who started to sing his now iconic song ‘Jamie Vardy’s having a party’.
He has earned his team 21 points in the Premier League, which is more than any other player for any team.
Vardy signed for Leicester in May 2012 for £1million from non-League Fleetwood Town – a non-League record.
It is now rumored a film will be made about Vardy’s rise from non-League football to the top of the Premier League and England.
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) April 24, 2016
21 – Jamie Vardy’s goals have won Leicester 21 points this season, more than any other Premier League player. Missing.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 24, 2016
Leicester’s £5.6million summer signing of Kanté from French side Caen went under the radar for most.
Kanté has made 149 tackles this season, which is more than any other Premier League player.
Kanté received his first call-up to the France national team in March, and now thanks to his Leicester heroics is set to join up with the team again for the European championships.
If planet Earth was ever under threat from an asteroid, I’m pretty sure that Kanté would intercept it.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 24, 2016
Leicester’s players reportedly heading to the PFA awards in a helicopter… Although N’Golo Kanté will probably be running there. #LCFC
— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) April 24, 2016
“70% of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by Kanté” pic.twitter.com/QrvCWSoOnd
— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) April 24, 2016
Strangely, Özil was overlooked for Team of the Year and therefore, is almost certainly out of the running for the main award.
Özil has provided more assists than any other player this season, with 18; and has also chipped in with 6 goals.
At one point it seemed the German created every goal Arsenal scored. However, his season, much like Arsenal’s, has tailed off with only 3 assists coming since the turn of the year.
Mesut Ozil has created 137 goal-scoring chances this season.
The most since 2004. pic.twitter.com/hpH5B4ez9b
— TheODDSbible (@TheOddsBible) April 24, 2016
Ozil assists in 2016: 3
Fabregas assists today: 3 pic.twitter.com/6BaTlopGzU
— 90min (@90min_Football) April 23, 2016
Payet was overlooked by many of the ‘bigger teams’ this summer, however, West Ham snapped him up for £10.7million – a transfer many are calling ‘signing of the season.’
He has had a hand in 18 of West Ham’s Premier League goals this season (nine goals and nine assists) – eight more than any other player.
Much like Kanté, Payet was ignored or on outskirts of the France national team. He was included, and scored in the team in March and is now more than likely set to join up again this summer.
Payet has become synonymous for his glorious freekicks, having scored five this season in all competitions.
Comment below with which of the nominees you think should win the main award tonight.