Generally, this time of the year would have been the award season in the Premier League. However, the season, along with the other major sporting events across the world, has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There had been fears that the 2019-20 Premier League season would end prematurely, but it has now been confirmed that the campaign will be finished, with the June 1 deadline to end the season being pushed back indefinitely.
Footballing action remains suspended at least until the end of next month. But there is hope that the season will resume and with that in mind, let’s take a look at five players who are the top contenders to win this year’s Professional Footballers' Association Men's Players' Player of the Year - or the PFA Player of the Year award.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
The only remaining squad member of the Liverpool side that came ever so close to winning the league title back in 2014, Jordan Henderson seems set to lead the Reds to their maiden Premier League triumph this term.
The Reds’ skipper isn’t always given due credit that he deserves. His contributions don’t always get recognized, but Henderson’s value and importance to this Liverpool side cannot be overstated. It is no surprise that Jurgen Klopp’s side faced problems over the last month after their captain was out on the treatment tables.
Henderson has played 25 matches in the league this term, scoring three goals and setting up five more. A reliable presence when playing as a defensive midfielder, Henderson is also very much effective playing in a more advanced role, with his distribution and piercing forward runs. But, what makes him such an important cog in this side is his leadership.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manchester City might have endured a disappointing campaign in comparison to the lofty standards they set for themselves, but Kevin De Bruyne has continued to shine bright for the reigning champions, proving exactly why he is considered as one of the best in the business.
De Bruyne’s influence on Guardiola’s team is huge. The Belgian international is the one who keeps the Citizens ticking, while also producing important goals on a regular basis. His importance was clearly visible in Manchester City’s toothless display in the Manchester derby recently, when De Bruyne was out with an injury.
It has been another splendid season for the Belgian midfielder, during the course of which he has made 26 appearances, bagging eight goals and assisting 16 more. At this rate, it seems just an inevitability that De Bruyne eclipses Thierry Henry’s record for most assists in a single season in the Premier League (20), once the season resumes.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Just his third full season with the Liverpool first-team, just 21 years old, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is already considered as one of the best right-backs in the game and has already drawn comparisons to the legends like Cafu.
One wouldn’t be too wrong in saying that the England international is one of Liverpool’s most important creative outlets. His dangerous forays forward down the right-side, coupled with equally devastating crosses and his set-piece delivery make him such a critical part of Jurgen Klopp’s setup.
Having broken the record for most assists by a defender in a season last time out, Alexander-Arnold has already levelled that tally with 12 assists in 29 matches, while contributing with a couple of goals as well. Should the season resume, Liverpool will be crowned champions and the 21-year-old academy graduate will have played a huge role in that triumph.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
A lot has changed at Leicester City since their surprise title triumph in 2015-16, but one thing that has remained constant is Jamie Vardy’s hunger for goals. The Englishman has continued to plunder goals for the Foxes and has been in brilliant form in the 2019-20 campaign.
Vardy has been one of the major driving forces behind Leicester’s push for a top-four finish. While his form has dipped somewhat since the turn of the year, the former England international is still ahead of the pack in the Golden Boot race, having found the back of the net on 19 occasions in 26 matches.
At 33 years of age, Vardy might not have a lot of years left in his career at the top level. And a strong finish to what has been a memorable campaign so far could very well see him bag the top honours.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Only two players in the history of the Premier League have managed to win the PFA Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons – Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo. And Virgil van Dijk is a strong contender to join that elite list this season.
The current holder of the award, van Dijk has once again been the cornerstone on which Liverpool’s special campaign has been built upon. The Netherlands international hasn’t missed a single league game for the Reds this season and has been integral in their run to the top.
Liverpool have the best defensive record in the league this season (21 goals conceded) and have kept the most clean sheets as well (12). And van Dijk’s role in these achievements has been instrumental, to say the least. Commanding at the back and excellent with the ball, the 28-year-old has also chipped in with 4 goals, putting his name into the hat for this season’s top player awards.