We’re approaching the business end of the Premier League season with plenty left to play for across the division, Manchester City currently leading the title race and beginning to look like champions-elect.
Just behind the league leaders the race for Europe looks set to go down to the wire with the likes of Leicester, Everton and Aston Villa all in contention alongside the Premier League’s ‘big six’, whilst down in the drop zone the bottom three remain in desperate need of points.
The 2020/21 campaign has been filled with some stellar performances from a host of leading names to date and we’ve decided to look at the leading contenders to claim the game’s individual accolades.
Last season saw Kevin De Bruyne recognised by his fellow peers as the division’s finest footballer, but the current campaign looks a more open race to win the PFA Player of the Year award.
Here are the bookmakers five favourites to win the prestigious accolade:
Ruben Dias – 8/1
Ruben Dias’ odds have tumbled in recent weeks following the defender’s incredible impact at Manchester City, the club-record signing from Benfica having had a transformative effect on the club’s defence this season.
Dias has formed the formidable centre-back partnership with a resurgent John Stones, the duo having remarkably kept 12 clean sheets in 14 league games together so far this season to provide the solid foundation on which to build a title challenge.
The Portugal international has been the defensive leader City have needed since the departure of club legend Vincent Kompany, with Dias’ impact having been likened to that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool – the last defender to win the PFA Player of the Year award in 2019.
Dias’ first half-season at the Etihad actually compares favourably to Van Dijk’s initial impression at Liverpool, amassing more wins, more clean sheets and conceding less goals.
After market mistakes with previous centre-back additions Guardiola has finally landed a player who has upgraded his side and then some, Dias’ odds only likely to get shorter should he maintain this level of performance and consistency.
Ilkay Gundogan – 8/1
The second Manchester City player to feature amongst the five favourites, Ilkay Gundogan is also priced at 8/1 odds following an astonishing run of form for the league leaders over the past two months.
Gundogan has been criticised during periods of his career at the Etihad but has been a player reborn during the current campaign, assuming greater responsibility following the departure of David Silva and enjoying the best goalscoring form of his career.
The Germany international has scored nine goals in his past 12 game for Pep Guardiola’s side, including a match-winning double against defending champions Liverpool last weekend.
Gundogan has impressed with his ability on the ball and his intelligent movement off it, ghosting forward unmarked into dangerous areas and providing a killer touch when finding himself in goalscoring positions.
No player in the division has scored more goals since December 15, the tactic of City’s full-backs moving into midfield unleashing the 30-year-old to push forward in search of goals.
Gundogan has delivered at a vital time of the season for City and if he can continue starring will be right in the reckoning for the end-of-season accolades.
Harry Kane – 7/1
It wasn’t all that long ago people were questioning whether Harry Kane could thrive in a Jose Mourinho-managed side, suggestions that have been emphatically dismissed following the forward’s brilliant form this season.
In fact, it could be argued that Tottenham are too dependent on the England captain who has taken his game to new levels during the opening months of the 2020/21 campaign.
Kane’s goalscoring record remains elite and he currently ranks second in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot, but it is the evolving side of his game that has attracted headlines this season with no player having provided more than his 11 assists.
The 27-year-old has dropped deeper and is now just as essential in Spurs build-up play, dragging defenders out of position and finding forward runners with well-timed passes in behind.
No player has been directly involved in more than Kane’s 24 league goals this season, whilst his strike against West Brom last weekend saw him move behind only Jimmy Greaves amongst Spurs’ all-time leading scorers.
Silverware has remained elusive for Kane and the north London side who will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final in April, and ending the club’s 13-year wait for a major trophy could enhance the forward’s Player of the Year hopes.
Jack Grealish – 5/1
Jack Grealish’s continued influence at Aston Villa makes the midfielder the second-favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award, the club captain having starred in a season of huge improvement for the Midlands outfit.
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season Villa have emerged as one of the surprise packages of the campaign, a series of impressive summer signings being led towards the European places by the inspirational Grealish.
The 25-year-old has scored six league goals and has provided a huge 10 assists for the campaign so far, whilst he ranks highly across the division for a number of metrics including leading the Premier League for key passes, progressive carries and fouls drawn.
The arrivals of Ross Barkley, Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins has alleviated some of the attention directed towards Grealish and he has flourished in a vibrant and attacking Aston Villa side, one who currently sits just five points outside the Champions League places with two games in hand.
Grealish is irresistible at best as he glides past opponents and creates chances, the midfielder’s performances having seemingly convinced Gareth Southgate he can play an influential role for England at this summer’s European Championships.
Manchester City and Manchester United have been linked with a big-money move for the player, though Villa are keen to secure his future with a new and improved contract that reflects his status as one of the Premier League’s finest footballers.
Bruno Fernandes – 7/4
Bruno Fernandes is the bookmaker’s favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award this season, the midfielder having emerged as arguably the Premier League’s most influential footballer since signing for Manchester United.
After starring during the Red Devils’ run into the Champions League places last season, Fernandes has continued to enhance his reputation as one of the division’s best with a brilliant individual campaign.
The Portugal international has scored 13 league goals – second only to Mohamed Salah – in addition to providing nine assists with only Harry Kane having been directly involved in more goals.
It’s a staggering rate of involvement for a midfielder and his performances have led Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to second in the Premier League, raising cautious optimism over a genuine title challenge.
Bruno Fernandes in the Premier League since his Manchester United debut:
Involved in 37 goals in 37 appearances 🔥 pic.twitter.com/no3cYXI5zc
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 6, 2021
There have been few signings as transformative to a side’s fortunes as Fernandes’ arrival at Old Trafford, the 26-year-old a world-class talent and a player who makes those around him reach a higher standard.