The release of the PFA team of the year often elicits widespread criticism, with many believing that they would be better placed to pick the eleven best footballers of the season. Having spent more than enough time avoiding exams and essays by watching football, we at the Courier Sport decided it was apt to express our footballing opinions and offer our alternative teams of the year.
The PFA team of the year never fails to bring in contentious decisions and mass debate from Premier League fans across the globe, and this season hasn’t failed to disappoint. For many of these choices, there is simply no other option but for them to be included. van Dijk, Laporte, Bernardo Silva and Sterling are all nailed on certainties that, if they don’t appear in any persons team of the year, would require an uphill struggle to justify it.
Any pub-football fan can speak chapter and verse about the players listed above. They have been nothing short of exceptional, with the latter three fitting the Pep Guardiola mould perfectly, with Sterling in particular reaping the rewards of receiving man-to-man coaching that Guardiola has been known to utilise to perfect upcoming players, with Lionel Messi being the closest relation to Sterling in this.
Looking toward other, perhaps more rogue selections within my team of the year; I’d start with placing Portuguese international fullback Ricardo Pereira. At just under £22 million, he didn’t arrive cheap for a mid-table Leicester City outfit that can’t boast the vast pit of funds they may have had in the immediate aftermath of their title winning success in 2016.
Despite this, Pereira has settled into Premier League football like a duck to water. His ability to move forward into attacking advances is a sheer joy to watch from a neutral perspective, notching up a couple of cracking goals in the process, with one in particular involving a fantastic individual run resulted in a fantastic first goal for the club against Everton.
Joining Laporte, van Dijk and Pereira in defence would be Andy Robertson. ‘Robbo’ has turned it up another gear in his second season with Liverpool, providing 20 assists for his team mates, and it wouldn’t take much for somebody to believe him to be a midfielder with stats like that. However the sturdy fullback is a key component to the stubborn Reds defence this season, thoroughly deserving of a place in this team. Ederson between the sticks is a no brianer, with the saves he made at vital times in games meaning that City were able to win a title race which left City and Liverpool finishing on 98 and 97 points respectively.
The midfield for me comes in the form of a three, featuring Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho, the former settling down as a key player in the City starting XI, and at just 24, could be a key component in the creativity side of City in years to come.
Eden Hazard beats out Paul Pogba as I believe he has given an account of himself this season where he’d be missed far more if he weren’t at Chelsea, compared to Pogba at United. His continued double-digit contribution to goals and assists will be thoroughly missed for Chelsea if Madrid does come calling in the summer.
Mane and Sterling are nail-ins for the front three, their goals have been vast and, at times, at crucial moments in games and the season as a whole.
The man leading the line may raise a few eyebrows, but for me he’d be a sheer joy for any club to have. Raúl Jiménez has led the line for what has been a revolutionary first season back in the Premier League for Wolves. They’ve finished an extremely impressive seventh in the league and were extremely close to an FA Cup final. He may have only contributed to 13 goals throughout the season, but place him in any of the top six sides and that number would instantly have been in the twenties. Wolves have managed to snap him up permanently for next year, a player that many clubs may be looking to make their own if he continues to perform at the same level next season.
After moaning about the selection of some players for the PFA Team of the Year, I decided to take up the mantle and try to create a slightly amended version. Credit where credit’s due- the team this year is pretty spot on, there’s been some superb performances from those selected. However, there are a couple of glaring omissions and side notes to be made in regards to this team.
Between the sticks we have Liverpool keeper Alisson. A surprising admission you may argue, but there’s good reason. Since his transfer from Roma last season, Alisson has impressed me. He’s made a couple of sloppy errors in comparison to his Brazilian counterpart and Premier League rival, Ederson, but the Premier League is an incredibly difficult league to settle into. Once Alisson got to grips with the tempo of the league, he’s been the consistent hands that Liverpool have craved in recent years.
On a disclaimer, I think the defence in the Team of the Year is absolutely correct. After much musing I decided that Crystal Palace youngster Aaron Wan-Bissaka shouldn’t make the cut. Although he’s made such an impact this season and absolutely shot onto the scene, he has still got areas to develop in. However, he is definitely a future contender in this competition.
Another addition into this team is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. He comes in to replace Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, who should not be within a country mile of that team. Hazard has stood out as an essential player amongst a Chelsea side who are going through a sticky patch at the moment. This season Hazard has provided 15 assists and scored 16 goals to provide some positivity in that uninspired Chelsea team.
Becca’s overall PFA Team of the Year: Alisson Becker (goalkeeper), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) and Sadio Mane (Liverpool).