The voting for the PFA Player of the Year award is fast approaching, with a host of Premier League stars in contention to receive arguably the greatest individual accolade in English football.
Liverpool’s record-breaking start to the season has seen several of Jurgen Klopp’s side named amongst the favourites, the likes of Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane thought to be vying with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne to be named as the division’s finest player.
Ahead of the naming of the 2019/20 winner, we’ve decided to look back at some of the past recipients of the honour, here are the PFA Player of the Year winners from the past decade:
Gareth Bale – 2011
Gareth Bale’s rise to superstardom would truly begin during the 2010/11 season, the Welshman announcing himself as one of the most exciting talents in Europe with a host of scintillating displays for Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham.
The winger would star during the club’s Champions League run, scoring a stunning hat-trick against holders Inter Milan at the San Siro in the group stages, before producing an electric display in the return fixture against the Italian’s at White Hart Lane.
Bale would score 11 times in all competitions for Spurs who finished fifth, being voted as the division’s finest player by his peers, winning the award ahead of the likes of Carlos Tevez, Nemanja Vidic and er, Charlie Adam.
Robin van Persie – 2012
Van Persie’s final season at Arsenal would prove to be the most prolific of his career, scoring 30 league goals and a huge 37 in all competitions for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Handed the captaincy following Cesc Fabregas’ departure for Barcelona, the Dutchman would thrive under the added responsibility as his game reached new heights, helping the north London side overcome a difficult start to the season to finish third.
Highlights of a memorable campaign would include a stunning hat-trick in a 5-3 victory over Chelsea, whilst Van Persie would also net three times against Blackburn and a stoppage-time winner against Liverpool at Anfield.
Named as the PFA Player of the Year at the end of the season, he would win the honour alongside the FWA Footballer of the Year and the Premier League’s Golden Boot before his controversial switch to rivals Manchester United.
Gareth Bale – 2013
Bale would become just the fifth player to win the award on two occasions in 2013, following a stunning individual season for Tottenham that would draw admiring glances from the Spanish capital and eventually make the winger the most expensive player in football history.
The Welsh international would score 21 Premier League goals – many of them spectacular efforts from distance – and produce a series of irrepressible displays for the north London side.
The campaign would perhaps be vintage Bale, the then 23-year-old at his swashbuckling best, flying past startled opposition full-backs at will. He would be named as the FWA Footballer of the Year in addition to his PFA award, whilst also claiming the Young Player of the Year title – becoming just the third player after Andy Gray in 1976–77 and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006–07 to win both awards in the same season.
TBT when Gareth Bale did things like this for Spurs ?pic.twitter.com/3xJ2ACBvTh
— Goal (@goal) February 15, 2020
Luis Suarez – 2014
One of the Premier League’s great individual seasons, Luis Suarez would score 31 goals and provide 12 assists in just 33 league appearances, firing Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side within touching distance of the league title before being narrowly being pipped by Manchester City.
Having missed the first five games of the season through suspension, Suarez would return with a brace at Sunderland before embarking on his prolific campaign, scoring three hat-tricks for the season including a stunning four-goal haul against Norwich at Anfield.
Working in brilliant tandem alongside Daniel Sturridge in attack, the duo would finish as the leading two goalscorers in the division with a huge 52 league goals between them.
Suarez would be named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year in addition to winning the division’s Golden Boot, the Uruguayan named as the outstanding player in the Premier League before joining Barcelona in a £75m deal that summer.
Eden Hazard – 2015
Few Premier League players have sparkled quite like an on-song Eden Hazard in recent years.
The former Chelsea winger was perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing players to watch in English football when in full flight, his mix of close control, agility and acceleration allowing the winger to ghost past seemingly static opponents.
Hazard would win six major honours including two league titles during his seven season stay at Stamford Bridge, and it would be after inspiring the west London side to the first of those championship triumphs that he would be crowned as the division’s finest player.
The Belgian would score 14 league goals and provide another nine assists as Jose Mourinho’s side were crowned champions of England, Hazard being named as the PFA Player of the Year – one of three times in four seasons he would finish in the top two in terms of votes.
He would win the FWA Footballer of the Year in addition, the Player of the Year double adding to his Young Player of the Year award won the previous season.
Riyad Mahrez – 2016
Arguably the greatest sporting shock in history, Leicester’s charge from relegation favourites to Premier League title winners was the stuff of fairytale, with Algerian international Mahrez at the heart of their incredible triumph.
The goals of Mahrez and Jamie Vardy would propel to Foxes to the summit of English football for the first time in their history, Claudio Ranieri’s side eventually finishing ten points clear of nearest challengers Arsenal.
Mahrez would score 17 Premier League goals in addition to providing a further 11 assists, whilst he would also deliver in crucial contests including memorable goals in wins over Manchester City and Chelsea.
The winger would become the first Algerian to win English football’s top flight, and the first ever African recipient of the PFA Player of the Year award.
N’Golo Kante – 2017
Another of the stars of Leicester’s improbable title triumph, Kante would leave the King Power Stadium following their championship success to join Chelsea, instantly becoming a central figure in another title-winning side.
The Frenchman’s relentless energy and drive in the middle of the park would prove crucial as Antonio Conte’s side romped towards the Premier League title, overcoming a difficult start to post a 13-game winning run and finish seven points clear of runners-up Tottenham.
Kante would finish ahead of teammate Eden Hazard and become the fourth Frenchman to win the award, joining the likes of Eric Cantona, David Ginola and Thierry Henry – certainly not bad company to keep.
Mohamed Salah – 2018
Many questioned Liverpool’s wisdom in spending a club record fee to sign Mohamed Salah from Roma, the winger having struggled to make an impression during a previous spell in English football with Chelsea.
Any doubts were soon swiftly removed following an outstanding debut season on Merseyside, however, Salah scoring on his debut and continuing to fire during a record-breaking individual season.
Salah’s list of personal records would include most goals in a 38-game Premier League season (32), alongside most teams scored against in a single campaign (17) and most individual games scored in (24).
He would finish the season with the Premier League’s Golden Boot in addition to a Player of the Year double, the Egyptian having scored more goals himself than three of the teams in the division that season.
Virgil van Dijk – 2019
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is the reigning winner of the PFA Player of the Year award, the centre-back becoming just the third defender in the Premier League era to win the honour after a colossal season for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Dutchman’s towering performances helped the Reds to the Premier League’s best defensive record, the club missing out on an elusive league title by just a single point despite a record tally of 97 points.
Van Dijk’s stellar campaign would see him become widely recognised as the best defender in world football, with few players having had as transformative an impact on their side as the £75m signing from Southampton.
Paul McGrath and John Terry are the only other defensive recipients of the PFA Player of the Year, the trio in an exclusive group of players to have overcome attacking favouritism to be named as the Premier League’s best.