PFA Young nominees
The nominees for the PFA Young Player of the Year are in and we want you to have your say. Wilshere has been superb and Benteke been star. But could Bale and Hazard do the double? Lukaku cannot be ignored either while Welbeck has come of age. Remember to vote, too!
Last Updated: 19/04/13 12:39pm
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert recently claimed Christian Benteke would now be worth £25million and it is difficult to disagree. The 22-year-old Belgian international has taken the Premier League by storm since arriving from Genk in a bargain £7m deal last summer. Despite playing in a Villa side who have been battling against relegation, Benteke has scored 15 goals in the top flight. Villa themselves have netted just 36 times in total this season to give an indication of their star striker's importance. Benteke's combination of pace, power and predatory instincts have made him one of the best strikers in the top flight and his form has kept England international and former PFA Young Player of the Year nominee Darren Bent out of the Villa first XI.
It is easy to forget Romelu Lukaku is still a teenager. The Chelsea player, who has spent the season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, has long been compared to Didier Drogba and the 19-year-old is living up to his billing. Lukaku perhaps struggled under the weight of expectation when first arriving at Chelsea from Anderlecht for an eyebrow-raising £18million. But since moving to West Brom he has been demonstrating why Chelsea were prepared to spend so much money. Muscular strength, electric speed and an eye for goal have made Lukaku a player to fear for defenders across the land. He has scored 13 times from 15 Premier League starts and surely looks set to be a key player for Chelsea when he returns.
The 2012/13 campaign appears to be the season in which Danny Welbeck has come of age. Despite his tender years, the 22-year-old has become a main man for both Manchester United and England. Welbeck may not score many goals but his work-rate makes him popular with both managers and fans. The forward has been an integral part of champions-elect United's march towards the Premier League title and at times he has been preferred to Wayne Rooney in the plans of Sir Alex Ferguson. The United boss is not normally a bad judge of player and Welbeck has repaid the faith in abundance.
Imagine having the hopes of your club and country upon your shoulders but still managing to produce a succession of superb performances and you have an insight into the life of Jack Wilshere. The 2011 Young Player of the Year's current season has been disrupted by an ankle injury and his first start only came at the end of last October. But Wilshere has still been Arsenal's best player. At just 21 years old and with just seven caps so far, the midfielder has been talked about as the future of the England team and he starred in the friendly against Brazil. Wilshere's ability to pick a pass, attacking, dribbling instincts and tenacious attitude make him an undoubted star.
Flying Welshman Gareth Bale is also a candidate for the Player of the Year and could complete a remarkable double. No player has flourished more under Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham Hotspur. Bale has been nothing less than sensational as he has matured into a player who can dictate the outcome of matches almost single-handedly. There were reservations over whether his natural game was more suited to patrolling the left flank rather than being given freedom to move inside but 17 Premier League goals this season have exorcised any such doubt. Bale missed the Olympics over the summer through injury and it would appear having a close-season of rest and recuperation has worked wonders. The 23-year-old is already widely regarded to be one of the best players in the world and a second PFA Player of the Season award will not go unnoticed at Europe's biggest clubs over the summer.
Like Bale, the Belgium international is up for both PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards and arrived in the capital to considerable fanfare after Chelsea shelled out a cool £32million to lure him from Lille and by and large he has delivered. Roberto Di Matteo's premature ejection from the Stamford Bridge hotseat will hardly have aided his bedding-in period but it is fair to say the extravagantly gifted 22-year-old is not shy of confidence and is unlikely to have been put off his stride for long. He is used to being recognised by his fellow peers too having twice been a winner of the French League Player of the Year. It seems unlikely he will be one of the favourites for this season's gong but few would bet against him exploding into the Premier League's brightest star next season with a full campaign under his belt. The one blot on his copybook is his involvement in 'Ball-boy-gate' up in Swansea, when he hit his target to the eerie sound of no hands clapping.