Bernardo Silva - Manchester City
Silva has taken his opportunities this season becoming a regular fixture in City’s starting eleven delivering outstanding performances.
That City’s top brass saw fit to tie the 24-year-old down to a contract that runs until 2025 is a measure of the esteem in which he is held at the Etihad Stadium, where he has impressed in almost every position across the City midfield and attack. Pep Guardiola made no secret of his preferred role for the Lisbon-born playmaker, telling The Guardian: “I think as a No.10 behind the striker is his natural game, but as a winger he can move inside or stay wide”.
He can play in all attacking positions in the middle – in three or four positions. “He knows when he doesn’t play good. But he’s nearly always an eight or a nine. You cannot play every single game every three days at the top level, but he runs and runs. Maybe this season he’s been one or two of the best players in the Premier League.”
Silva had a hand in 21 goals across City’s first 41 games of the season, during which time the club sustained aspirations to achieve a historic quadruple, and he matched his 2017-18 goal tally in all competitions by February.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
Hazard’s dazzling, fleet-footed brilliance is magnificent enough in itself, but what stands out when studying the Belgian’s career is the remarkable consistency with which he has achieved such levels.
The Chelsea playmaker won the coveted trophy in 2014/15. He was voted our Young Player of the Year in 2013/14 and has appeared in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year four times. Last year he was named in the FIFPro World XI.
Looking back further, whilst at Lille he achieved similar stature amongst his peers in France’s PFA equivalent, the UNFP awards, with two Ligue 1 Player of the Year awards, two as Young Player of the Year and appearances in the Team of the Year voting for three seasons in succession.
That all means he has earned the honour of recognition from his fellow professionals every season for the last decade. And he Is still only 28.
His campaign began with three goals at the World Cup, including a clincher against England in the third-place play-off, before a stupendous run of form in early autumn of 10 goals in as many games for club and country. That run incorporated a hat-trick against Cardiff City and two goals against Liverpool in three days in the EFL Cup and Premier League. His double in the Boxing Day victory at Watford was special, bringing his career tally to 150 and also marking his 100th in a Chelsea shirt.
Raheem Sterling - Manchester City
It seems remarkable that Sterling is just 24 years old, having racked up over 300 club appearances and is fast approaching a century of goals in all competitions.
But outside of his stunning statistics, the England international’s ability to find and create space for his teammates has highlighted him as one of Europe’s elite forwards under manager Pep Guardiola.
Sterling has also mastered the ability of popping up with big goals in crucial matches, notching against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton this season.
Few could argue that the Jamaican-born England international isn’t ice-cool under pressure, having slammed home a stunning penalty to clinch Manchester City’s first trophy of the season in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea in February.
Having scored 23 goals in 46 matches last season in all competitions, Sterling is well on his way to smashing his personal best, having already reached 20 goals with over a month of the season remaining to put City within sight of the Premier League Trophy.
Sadio Mane - Liverpool
Part of a lethal front three who have spearheaded Liverpool’s title challenge, Mané has proved that he possesses more than just skill and pace. The Senegalese’s fantastic finishing and sublime movement have caused nightmares for defences up and down the country.
The 27-year-old’s prolific finish to the season has seen him become a genuine contender for the Golden Boot, as he has already achieved his highest goal tally in his fi ve Premier League campaigns and matched his best tally in England of 20 in all competitions last season.
His unselfishness has seen Liverpool reap the rewards, as he has partnered Roberto Firmino and last season’s PFA Player of the Year, Mo Salah, in seamless fashion. Quick, agile and with a wonderful ability to elude defenders on numerous occasions.
The song sung by the Kop in his name has reverberated constantly around Anfield this season and Reds fans will have been pleased to see the Senegal forward sign a new contract last November to tie him to the Merseyside club until 2023.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. “Sadio is coming to an age where things are becoming more natural for him,” said Klopp. “He’s not having to convince people now. We all know that he’s a world-class player and he has started realising that for himself.”
Sergio AgUero - Manchester City
Of all the Premier League’s top players, the Argentinian has a thirst for goals that is relentless and he plundered his 200th and 201st for City in their opening game this season – the 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Community Shield.
He then netted a hat-trick in City’s fi rst home game of the season – a 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town – prompting a stunned response from his head coach. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve never seen him like this,” Pep Guardiola said. “The spirit since he came back from the holidays after the World Cup... he is in incredible condition. With the ball and without the ball, he is sharp and intelligent and, of course, his talent to score goals is always there.”
Agüero proceeded to notch four goals in five games as the likes of Cardiff City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Hoffenheim and Burnley were brushed aside, but the Argentina striker saved his most spectacular scoring streak for the crucial winter period. Between December 30 and March 16, he scored a staggering 16 goals in 17 matches across all competitions as City sustained their interest in four trophies into the final weeks of the season.
Virgil Van Dijk- Liverpool
Since arriving at Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a world record £75million fee for a defender, the 27-year-old centre-half has brought assertiveness and confidence to a club with a frustrating defensive record.
In recent seasons the Merseyside club’s vulnerability at the back has been their Achilles heel, but Van Dijk’s presence at the heart of their defence has been integral to Liverpool’s chase for a first Premier League title, as it has led to a high number of clean sheets.
A ball-playing centre-half who is the epitome of cool, calm and collected, Van Dijk has been a constant figure of assurance at the back and won the PFA Player of the Month in November.
Van Dijk’s club manager, Jürgen Klopp, has waxed lyrical about his talents since his arrival 15 months ago. “You could write a book about his skills, his strengths, how much I like him, what a fantastic person he is. He’s so young, already so mature, so strong,” said Klopp.