Robin van Persie is the red-hot favourite to be voted 2012-13 Player of the Year – but is he the most worthy recipient of the prestigious award? The Manchester United striker has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to his club’s quest to regain the title since his £24million move from Arsenal last summer, scoring 18 Premier League goals. But should the voters eschew the obvious and look a bit deeper into the performers who have lit up the season?
We list five worthy alternatives to Van Persie who also deserve due consideration when it comes to naming the Player of the Year:
1) Juan Mata
In a Chelsea side packed full of creative influences, Mata has stood out as the brightest light. The tricky Spaniard is his club’s top scorer this season – not bad when you consider Mata is meant to be carving out the chances rather than converting them.
In the games where the midfield maestro has been absent, Chelsea have largely struggled to create chances and the way in which he took his early chance against Arsenal recently illustrates that he’s possibly the best finisher at Stamford Bridge,
2) Gareth Bale
The Welshman’s stock continues to rise, to the point where he looks destined for a huge move to Spain in the summer. Most defences fail to cope with Bale’s dribbling ability and he has been the driving force of Tottenham’s challenge for the top four.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine that Spurs would be gunning for a Champions League place if it wasn’t for the influence of Bale, who has helped to win games almost singlehandedly this term and his hat-trick at Villa Park was a joy to behold. Andre Villas-Boas will hope the midfielder remains at the Lane for a good while yet.
Largely unknown at the start of the campaign, the Spaniard has proved one of the bargains of recent years for surprise package Swansea City. Only the more established Van Persie, Demba Ba and Luis Suarez have bettered Michu’s 13 league goals.
The midfielder has helped his team reach the first cup final in their history and has just signed a new contract at the Liberty Stadium which should at least guarantee a big transfer fee should one of the bigger Premier League clubs come calling.
4) Luis Suarez
Where would Liverpool be without Suarez? Not challenging for a European place, that’s for sure. The Uruguayan has shrugged off the controversy that continues to dog him by scoring 16 league goals already and wreaks havoc among most defences.
Suarez was accused of being a poor finisher last term after squandering several chances and hitting the woodwork more than any other player, although the controversial forward has found his way to the net this season and might benefit from the recent arrival of Daniel Sturridge.
5) Marouane Fellaini
From the first weekend of the season when he scored the winner against Manchester United, Fellaini has been a major threat. The Belgian is the catalyst of Everton’s excellent campaign with a series of consistent displays playing just off the front man.
Indeed, the midfielder is the club’s leading scorer this season and works effectively from a defensive and offensive point-of-view. He was originally supposed to be a holding player but his eye for goal and ability to bring others into play means he’s currently playing off striker Nikica Jelavic.