Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante have both been shortlisted for the 2016-17 PFA Player of the Year Award.
The six nominations were confirmed on Thursday along with those stars in the running for the Young Player of the Year gong. The PFA confirmed both lists on their official Twitter feed:
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez and Manchester United talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic are included after tremendous individual campaigns, while Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane are in both shortlists.
As well as Lukaku and Kane, Spurs star Dele Alli has been nominated for the Young Player accolade. Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Burnley defender Michael Keane also have a chance of success.
Given Chelsea’s dominance of the Premier League this season, it’s little surprise to see Kante and Hazard recognised.
The former, who arrived from Leicester City in the summer, has made a massive impact in the centre of the park for the Blues. Kante’s ability to win the ball back, drive forward and maintain incredible intensity for an entire 90 minutes makes him one of the most valuable operators in European football.
The France international definitely refreshed the Blues, whereas Hazard has looked refreshed following a disappointing previous term. Per Squawka Football, he’s been exceptional:
Operating in a slightly different role under manager Antonio Conte as part of a front three, Hazard has been exceptional floating infield off the left flank, linking up with his attacking team-mates and making decisive impressions on matches.
Having won the award in 2014-15 when Chelsea clinched the Premier League title, the forward will be hoping for a similar double again.
Other players have made their case to be considered, though, including Ibrahimovic. Although United may have underwhelmed at times this term, he’s been a tremendous acquisition for the Red Devils. The veteran forward has continued to blossom in the twilight of his career, per Statman Dave:
Sanchez is another player that’s shone in an underperforming side, with his blend of aggression and guile carrying Arsenal through matches at times this term. His haul of 18 goals and nine assists this term sum up just how crucial he is to the Arsenal cause.
Kane is another forward who has led the line with distinction this season, helping Tottenham stay in contention in the title race with his 19 goals. The aggressive and industrious style Mauricio Pochettino demands from his team is perfectly aligned with Kane’s qualities.
Still, none of those forwards aforementioned have been quite as prolific as Lukaku this season, as the Belgian has a comfortable lead in the race for the Golden Boot. Everton’s official Twitter feed paid tribute to his brilliant campaign:
There are some notable omissions from the senior list, with Alli arguably worthy of a nomination in both categories. The young midfielder has been sensational since the turn of the year and has recently seized responsibility in the attacking third for Spurs with Kane injured.
Nizaar Kinsella of Goal feels as though Alli could have easily usurped Sanchez in the main list and possibly his team-mate too:
Another standout name not nominated includes Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who has been a breath of fresh air at Anfield this season. Missing a portion of the season due to the Africa Cup of Nations coupled with a current injury layoff is likely to have counted against him, though.
Chelsea supporters could argue that more of their players could have been on the shortlist too. Diego Costa has been back to his best this season under Conte, offering a dominant presence at the sharp end of the pitch. David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thibaut Courtois have also made massive contributions to the Blues’ wonderful defensive record.