By Sam Bennett
Another Premier League season has flown by, and the annual PFA Awards are little over a month away.
Who will join such greats as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Steven Gerrard in winning the Young Player prize this year? Here are our tips.
Dele Alli, 20, Tottenham Hotspur
Last year’s winner has followed up on his 2015-16 YPOTY award with another fine season.
The youngest player on this list, Dele is the only one to win Player of the Month. That came after he started 2017 by scoring against Man City, Watford and runaway leaders Chelsea.
The Spurs star possesses a terrific eye for goal. His total of 11 in 24 appearances makes him the joint-highest scoring midfielder in the league.
If he can avoid the curse of being touted as “England’s next big hope”, the former MK Dons man could reach the pinnacle of the world game.
Paul Pogba, 23, Manchester United
It’s frightening to think that the world’s record signing is still eligible for the Young Player award.
But such has been the nature of the £89m midfielder’s accomplished performances since re-joining Manchester United.
Pogba struggled to find consistency early in the season. But a switch to a three-man midfield allowed the Frenchman to flourish and produce match-winning performances.
United’s No.6 is let down slightly by his performances against the big teams. His display against Liverpool at Old Trafford was a particular lowlight.
But if you’re looking at this award based on pure talent, then Pogba must be considered a strong contender.
Romelu Lukaku, 23, Everton
A leading contender for the Golden Boot with 17 goals this season, the big Belgian is still eligible for the PFA Young Player award, too.
The former Chelsea man has added to his all-round game considerably this season. He’s notched four assists and also boasts an excellent 64% shots-on-target ratio.
Perennially linked with other clubs, Lukaku has got his head down and had his best season yet in Everton colours.
Even more promisingly for Toffees fans, reports suggest he will extend his contract despite surefire interest from elsewhere.
Wilfried Zaha, 23, Crystal Palace
Despite Palace’s struggles this campaign, Zaha has turned his undoubted raw talent into consistently impressive performances and showing why he was once seen as a future England star.
Now representing his birth nation, the Ivory Coast, at international level, the right winger has added a sharper edge to his play, being less flashy and more decisive.
He has been rewarded for his change in approach with four goals and six assists, showing a much improved eye for a cross.
Ironically, Zaha probably would have had more of a chance than ever to add to his one England cap had he not decided to switch his allegiance.
But England’s loss will be Ivory Coast’s gain if he continues to show this new-found edge in the final third.
Jordan Pickford, 22, Sunderland
The impact Pickford has had on Sunderland’s season is best demonstrated by the Black Cats’ defensive struggles after he got injured in December.
With stand-in Vito Mannone in goal, Sunderland returned to the bottom of the Premier League. They conceded more in a single month than in the previous two with Pickford between the posts.
The top-flight’s youngest first-choice goalkeeper, Pickford must be in with a shout of winning the PFA prize if he helps Sunderland pull away from danger.