The PFA players’ player of the year is often seen as the ultimate of the individual awards in the Premier League as the winner is decided by their fellow professionals.
It has a long history dating back to the 1973/74 season and has been won by numerous legends during those decades.
The last 10 years alone, since the start of the 2011/12 season, have produced many exceptional winners. But here’s a look at how they all rank compared to each other…
Kevin De Bruyne was clearly an important part of Manchester City’s title winning team in 2020/21, often captaining the side when fit. But injuries and rotation limited him to only 23 league starts and City didn’t miss a beat whether he was playing or not during the decisive winter winning streak.
Gareth Bale’s form during 2012/13 earned him a world-record transfer to Real Madrid and the Welshman seemed to be winning games for Tottenham by himself at times, particularly during the second half of the campaign. But even his 21 goals didn’t push Spurs any higher than fifth.
Chelsea’s 2014/15 title win was heavily boosted by the arrivals of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas in the summer, but Eden Hazard remained the team’s match-winner and X-factor. The Blues only twice dropped points in games that he scored all season.
Although it was Jamie Vardy that picked up the FWA award in 2015/16, Riyad Mahrez was the one favoured his fellow professionals for his role in Leicester’s remarkable title winning season. It was only his second year as a top flight player yet he managed 27 combined goals and assists.
When Robin van Persie finally put years of injury nightmares behind him, he showed how devastating he could be. The Dutchman played all 38 of Arsenal’s Premier League games in the 2011/12 season and landed the Golden Boot with an incredible 30 goals.
Mohamed Salah holds the Premier League record for most goals in a single 38-game season, netting 32 times in 36 during his first campaign as a Liverpool player. He had previously been a disappointment at Chelsea and proved his critics wrong.
Liverpool’s final piece of the puzzle was Virgil van Dijk. His 2018 arrival required a world record fee but the impact he had, providing a rock solid foundation at the back that hadn’t previously been there, was utterly phenomenal as the Reds amassed 97 points with the meanest defence.
Having already proven himself as an outstanding Premier League player, Kevin De Bruyne took things to another level in 2019/20. His passing and vision was been hailed as some of the best English football has ever seen equalling the single season record for assists.
Luis Suarez was pretty much unplayable during the 2013/14 season, scoring almost a goal per game as Liverpool came within a whisker of the title. Because of the Uruguayan, the Reds became only the third team in Premier League history to score 100 goals in a season.
N’Golo Kante could have been PFA player of the year in 2015/16 while with Leicester, but he proved the following season he was no one-hit wonder after joining Chelsea. The Frenchman epitomised manager Antonio Conte’s relentless style of play and helped transform a team that had finished 10th the year before into runaway champions.