David de Gea
Goalkeeper, Manchester United
The Spanish international has taken over the reins as ‘keeper of the year’ from Petr Cech and, according to his fellow professionals, has even outshone Chelsea’s new outstanding number one Thibault Courtois.De Gea, who has represented Spain at every level from Under 15's to the full national side, has been a model of consistency as Manchester United have adapted to life under Louis van Gaal.
Following the departure of JT’s great mate Frank Lampard, many people wondered how much longer Chelsea’s other senior citizen would continue as the main man at the Bridge. Some thought this season could be Terry’s last as the cornerstone of a Chelsea side constantly being redefined by José Mourinho, but his dominant displays once more have already earned him a contract extension – and a place in the team of the year.
Earmarked as a future England international from a young age, Gary has continued to grow in stature for club and country since joining Chelsea from Bolton in 2012. His central defensive partnership with the evergreen Terry is as good as any in the Premier League; possibly throughout Europe. A stylish centre half who names Des Walker as his boyhood hero, Gary is well on his way to matching his idol’s 59-cap haul for his country.
Ryan has enjoyed a fine season with a Southampton side which continues to make great strides under Ronald Koeman. Having begun his career at Chelsea where Ashley Cole set the benchmark for left backs the world over, Ryan has worked hard to achieve the same level of consistency and quality. After a number of loan spells with the likes of Norwich, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, Ryan has settled on the south coast with Saints as his career goes marching on.
The ever-dependable right back is enjoying another impressive season with Chelsea and, in addition to his defensive qualities, he has chipped in with a few vital goals along the way as the Blues close in on the league title. Described by José Mourinho as ‘a competitive animal with a big heart’, the powerful Serbian international was also paid this compliment by Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling – ‘he’s the scariest player to play against; not dirty, just a tank!’
An unsung hero to some, but a hugely important cog in the Chelsea wheel which runs even smoother when Matic provides the seamless midfield link between defence and attack. As well as giving protection to the back four, he offers great assistance to the likes of Fabregas and Hazard, and is rarely found wanting when it comes to making an impact in the final third. His second spell at the Bridge is proving a profitable one for the Serbian international.
The boy from Brazil has grown in stature and confidence this season to the extent that his manager speaks of him in such glowing terms. Brendan Rodgers says: “He has played very well. If he continues to progress the way he has, he will be a world class talent.” Whether he is asked to play in a wide role or as a support to the main strikers, Coutinho has taken on the role with gusto and guile which makes him as important to Liverpool as Eden Hazard is to Chelsea.
Last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year has gone from strength to strength this season, and maintained a level of performance virtually unrivalled in the best league in the world. José Mourinho has been quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘anyone in love with football has to be in love with Eden Hazard’. Just about says it all really, and there’s plenty more to come from a 24-year-old who already has more than 50 Belgian caps to his name.
Alexis became the most expensive Chilean footballer of all time when he joined Barcelona from Udinese for £25million in 2011, and he became the second most expensive player in the history of Arsenal when he arrived at the Emirates for a reported £35million last summer. But despite the weight of expectation that comes with such enormous transfer fees, the 26-year-old has played with such freedom, passion and energy to endear himself to the Gunners’ faithful.
A nightmare to play against; a dream to play with – what you see is what you get with Diego Costa. Total commitment; total focus; total belief in his own ability, and how Chelsea have benefited from his all-action displays – and his goals – in his first season in Chelsea colours since joining from Atletico Madrid last summer. Seven goals in his first four games was a Premier League record, and the Brazil-born Spanish international has hardly stopped scoring since.
Where do you start when it comes to trying to assess the amazing impact this modern-day Roy of the Rovers has made this season? After various loan spells and having started the campaign as a ‘cup player’, Harry has become as important to an evolving Tottenham side as any in the last decade. Goals and smiles galore for his club made him a must-pick for Roy Hodgson and we all know what ‘one of our own’ did when he pulled on an England shirt for the first time.