Men's PFA Young Player of the Year: Nominees

We take a closer look at the nominees for the PFA Young Player of the Year …

THIBAUT COURTOIS

  • PFA Young Player of the Year Nominee: Thibaut Courtois
  • Club: Chelsea FC
  • National Team: Belgium
  • DOB: 

Perhaps the greatest testament to Courtois’ ability is the fact that at the age of 22, he has managed to dislodge hugely respected and experienced goalkeeper Petr Cech as Chelsea’s first choice in goal.

Standing at just over 6ft 6ins Courtois cuts an imposing figure and his physical stature has been mirrored in the dominant nature of his performances in the Barclays Premier League.

In the 2010/11 campaign Courtois, was named Genk’s Player of the Year when they won the Belgian title before his switch to the Bridge. He was then loaned out to Atletico Madrid, and played a key part in a team that won the La Liga title in 2013/14.

Courtois became the youngest goalkeeper to represent Belgium in 2011 and mirroring his club progress he is now the recognised first choice keeper for his country.

Aside from his incredible athleticism and shot-stopping ability, Courtois’ mentality, control and self-assured manner instils confidence in his defensive colleagues, giving the young Belgian an aura of calm beyond his years.

His potential hasn’t gone unnoticed at the highest level of the game, after Chelsea’s clash with Paris St-Germain in the UEFA Champions League this year, PSG manager Laurent Blanc stated: “What amazes me is that Courtois, despite his height, is still very quick …He’s one of the top goalkeepers in the world. Chelsea know they have one of the greatest keepers out there.”

PHILIPPE COUTINHO

  • PFA Young of the Year Nominee: Philippe Coutinho
  • Club: Liverpool FC
  • National Team: Brazil
  • DOB: 12/6/1992

There have been a number of stand-out performers in a resurgent Liverpool side this season and few deserve greater plaudits than the young Brazilian.

Philippe Coutinho has been an inspiration in a floating midfield role which allows him to exert his influence over games, utilising his pace, poise and deftness of touch.

A product of the Vasco da Gama academy, Coutinho continues to show maturity beyond his 22 years. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is excited by the prospect of his future potential, stating: "He is certainly going to be up there, there is no doubt about that. He has played very well. If he continues to progress the way he has, he will be a world class talent.”

DAVID DE GEA

  • PFA Young of the Year Nominee: David de Gea
  • Club: Manchester United FC
  • National Team: Spain
  • DOB: 7/11/1990

David de Gea’s journey in the Barclays Premier League is a great example of how world-class talent still requires determination, self-belief, hard-work and resilience.

Having joined Manchester United in 2011 for a record British fee for a goalkeeper of £17.8m, the expectation on de Gea was huge. It was widely accepted that the Spaniard was a word-class shot-stopper, but his ability to adapt to the physicality of the English game wasn’t always such a given.

After a testing start to his Old Trafford career, de Gea is now arguably United’s key player and is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.

As we approach the climax of the 2014/15 campaign it is a fair assessment to say that Manchester United still remain a team in transition, but under the stewardship of Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, the Red Devils are looking stronger with every game.

Whilst earlier in the season some of the Old Trafford faithful were frustrated with the manner of the team’s performances, the three times European champions still managed to grind out results and this was in no small part due to the brilliance of de Gea.

The United goalkeeper at times has looked unbeatable, consistently producing match-winning saves at pivotal moments. In November this resulted in the Spanish international being voted the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month.

EDEN HAZARD

  • PFA Young of the Year Nominee: Eden Hazard
  • Club: Chelsea FC
  • National Team: Belgium
  • DOB: 7/1/1991

It is the second year in a row that Eden Hazard has been nominated for both PFA Player’s Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the year.

Signed from Lille in 2012 for a fee reported to be around £32m, Hazard had already won the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year in consecutive seasons. In 2011/12 he became the youngest player to win the award, then in the following season he then repeated the feat, an achievement only matched by former Paris Saint-Germain striker Pauleta.

Hazard is the current holder of the PFA Young Player of the Year award and has been an inspirational figure in Chelsea’s pursuit of the Barclays Premier League title this time round.

Whilst Jose Mourinho has imposed his characteristic steel and a resolve onto the West London club, he has also assembled a vast array of attacking and creative talent, epitomised by the brilliant Belgian.

Hazard’s balance and touch, combined with his low centre of gravity, has consistently caused havoc amongst opposition defences throughout the 2014/15 campaign.

Hazard’s goal tally for the season is already well into double figures, and only Diego Costa has scored more at Chelsea. A key player for country as well as club, he was recently rewarded with a new five and a half-year contract at the Bridge.

HARRY KANE

  • PFA Young of the Year Nominee: Harry Kane
  • Club: Tottenham Hotspur FC
  • National Team: England
  • DOB: 28/7/1993

Harry Kane has shot to prominence after breaking through into Spurs' first-team this season.

Initially restricted largely to cup performances, Kane’s form ensured he was given an opportunity in the Barclays Premier League, a chance he has grabbed with both hands.

Currently joint top-goal scorer in the Premier League with 19 goals, Kane is only one goal away from breaking the 30 goal threshold in all competitions.

The fact he is a home-grown talent has made his rise to stardom all the more special for Spurs’ fans, who proudly proclaim him as ‘one of their own’.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is delighted with Kane’s progress and attitude, commenting: "He is mature and clever. He has had good support from his team-mates and the fans and he knows how to manage this situation."

In March 2015, Kane burst on to the international scene scoring after only 79 seconds into his senior England debut and he was also crowned the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month.

RAHEEM STERLING

  • PFA Young of the Year Nominee: Raheem Sterling
  • Club: Liverpool FC
  • National Team: England
  • DOB: 8/12/1994

After a stunning start to the season, Raheem Sterling found the going tough and his manager was quick to recognise his rising star needed a break.

So much had been asked of the young England international in the 2013/14 season, Brendan Rodgers felt a re-charging of the batteries might be in order.

On his return, the zip and zest we had all seen earlier in the campaign returned, and Sterling was back to his best and firing on all cylinders once again.

Following Sterling’s mid-season break, Rodgers observed: “The rest has done him the world of good. He has been outstanding. He is a great learner and will only get better.”

Sterling himself admitted at the time of his return: “I’ve felt the benefit of the break because there are times you need a bit of rest and the manager gave me some time off and it’s helped.”

Sterling scored a stunning goal earlier this week against Newcastle and his return to his blistering best is good news for both club and country.

The Reds boss says: “I still think Raheem has a lot of development to go and this is the best place for him. It is pretty obvious that this is a great place for him to be and he has said that himself.”