There had been fears that the 2019-20 Premier League season would end prematurely following its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is still hope that the season will resume.
With that renewed hope, let’s take a look at five players who are the top contenders to win this year’s Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year award - or the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Any footballer aged 23 or below at the start of the campaign is eligible for the honours.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
A contender for the PFA Player of the Year award as well, Trent Alexander-Arnold, is without a doubt the top candidate for the Young Player of the Year honour as well. At the age of just 21, the Liverpool academy man has redefined the role of a right-back and has grown into one of the best, if not the best, in his position in the world.
Alexander-Arnold has enjoyed a stellar campaign that has seen him score two goals and register as many as 12 assists already – matching his assist tally from the last season. The 21-year-old also has created the second-most number of chances in the top-flight this term (75).
The England international is one of Liverpool’s chief creative outlets and his value to the side is immense. With Liverpool all but confirmed to lift the title, provided the league resumes, Alexander-Arnold will have played a crucial role in their success.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa might be staring at the prospect of dropping back to the second division when the campaign ends, but their captain Jack Grealish can look back upon the 2019-20 campaign on a personal level.
The 24-year-old, who played an integral role in Villa’s promotion to the top-flight, has been one of the few positives for the outfit from Midlands in a season that has failed to take flight. So far, Grealish has featured in 26 matches in all competitions, scoring seven goals, that include some bonafide stunners, and setting up six more.
Grealish has also created 69 goalscoring chances this season – the fifth-highest tally in the league. Heavily linked with a summer switch to Manchester United, the Englishman could very well end the season with the Young Player of the Year award in his bag.
James Maddison (Leicester City)
Another young English talent that has grown leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons after breaking through in the Championship, James Maddison has continued to shine bright for Leicester City and has played a key role in their push for a podium finish this term.
The 23-year-old has been directly involved in nine goals for the Foxes in 28 league appearances (six goals and three assists), including strikes against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. The creative hub of Brendan Rodgers’ side, Maddison has also created 75 chances in league football this season.
On the back of his performances, the midfielder also managed to break into the England national team. Although Maddison’s form has dwindled since the turn of the year, there is no denying his influence on this Leicester team, making him a top contender for the Young Player of the Year award.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
The serious injury he suffered a couple of months ago might have hurt his chances to go on to win the award, but Rashford’s contribution to this Manchester United team has been so immense that he deserves a place among the contenders.
Taking on the mantle of the Red Devils’ talisman this season, the England international thrived until picking up an injury. Playing across the frontline, Rashford has come up with an impressive return of 14 goals from 22 league outings, while also chipping in with four assists.
Considering that the Manchester United academy graduate has hit the woodwork the most times this term (6), Rashford could have been leading the goalscoring charts had those shots gone into the net. With the season being pushed back, Rashford has a chance to return to action and if he does, the 22-year-old will definitely add to his current tally and finish the season on a strong note.
Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Like Rashford, another player whose season has been hampered by an injury, Tammy Abraham enjoyed a sensational start to the 2019-20 campaign and is one of the main reasons why Chelsea find themselves in a strong position in the top four race.
Donning the role of the Blues’ main striker under new boss Frank Lampard – a role that was thrust upon him owing to their transfer ban – Abraham made the most of the opportunity and went on a goal-scoring spree early in the campaign before suffering a dip in form.
The 22-year-old has found the back of the net on 13 occasions in 25 league appearances this term and has also created four for his teammates. Abraham’s form for Chelsea saw him earn a call-up to the England national team as well. The impact that he has had in his first full season with the Blues’ first-team makes him a contender for the PFA Young Player of the Year honours.