Premier League Betting: De Bruyne underrated to win PFA Player of the Year

Alex Keble takes a look at the six contenders to win the PFA Player of the Year award, and argues that a split vote at Liverpool and a likely new assist record makes KDB the likeliest winner...

The unusual nature of the 2019/20 Premier League season has presented a bit of a problem when it comes to picking PFA Player of the Year, which is voted for by the players themselves in April. Liverpool's astonishing domination at the top (coupled with relatively poor seasons by every other big club) suggests someone from the champions-elect really ought to win the gong.
But the problem is, Jurgen Klopp's side are such a good team that no one individual has particularly stood out. What's more, another Liverpool triumph would make it three years in a row; after Virgil van Dijk won it in 2019 despite Manchester City lifting the title, will the players decide to look elsewhere?
Here's a look at the six favourites:

Jordan Henderson - 6/4

The new favourite is the Liverpool captain, whose superb performance at the weekend - bagging a goal and an assist - sparked serious discussion of Henderson taking the major prize. Since there are no obvious candidates in the Liverpool team, and in fact their success is defined by their functioning as a collective, it does make sense to reward the leader of that team.
However, it would be surprising if the Premier League's players had the same thought process en masse. Henderson is a brilliant player and integral to the system, but he clearly isn't the most talented individual - nor has he had a better season than four or five others.
If nobody emerges over the next couple of months, then a consensus could be reached that gives Henderson the nod. More likely, the chatter will die down and someone else will be considered by the media, at which point Henderson's odds will significantly lengthen.

Sadio Mane - 15/8

Nobody's stock has risen as much as Mane's over the last 12 months. Long considered an important part of the Liverpool front three, in 2019/20 he is considered the most talented Liverpool forward and the most consistent in providing match-winning moments. Coming fourth in the Ballon d'Or has definitely helped raise his profile.
In reality, Mane is technically the least productive of the front three, scoring 11 goals (fewer than Mohamed Salah) and assisting six (the joint third highest alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino). Perhaps Mane is second favourite merely because he was the early frontrunner; he could slide further down this list and, not unlike Kevin de Bruyne in 2017/18, find that he peaked too early to get the top prize.

Kevin de Bruyne - 5/1

For a Manchester City player to win the prize despite a disastrous season by their standards would require something pretty special from De Bruyne - but he is on the verge of doing just that. The Belgian currently has 15 Premier League assists, five short of Thierry Henry's record of 20 set in 2002/03. If De Bruyne tops Henry, he will make headlines and most definitely enter the conversation.
There are two more good reasons to back De Bruyne. First, it still feels slightly unfair that he missed out during City's Centurions year to Salah, and the voting players may feel the need to correct that once the assist record is broken; his comeback following a season-long injury presents a heart-warming opportunity to celebrate the man.
Second, Liverpool's team effort threatens to split the vote. With so many to choose from, we might find an even split between four or five Liverpool players, opening up a space for De Bruyne to sneak ahead. Kevin de Bruyne - 5/1">Back him now at 5/1, before the assist record moves into sight and he becomes a talking point again.

Virgil van Dijk - 10/1

It was pretty extraordinary that a centre-back won PFA Player of the Year in 2019, so the chances of it happening two years in a row seem very slim - even if technically Van Dijk has once again been Liverpool's most important player. If nothing else, it's just a bit boring; the Dutchman isn't as big news this year.
Over the next 13 leagues games someone in the Liverpool attack will emerge, hitting figures that get significantly more attention than Liverpool's clean sheet record.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - 16/1

There is a very good case to be made for Alexander-Arnold to win Player of the Year, the main argument being how timely the win would be. The biggest tactical development of the last couple of years has been the emergence of full-backs as playmakers, and TAA is undoubtedly the poster boy for this movement. The 21-year-old has helped redefine the role.
He also has ten assists, more than any other Liverpool player, and is part of a back four that has conceded just 15 goals so far this season. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for TAA is that he is 1/5 to win Young Player of the Year. Will voters be happy with Alexander-Arnold scooping both awards, something only Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have done in the Premier League era?

Mo Salah - 16/1

Just like every other aspect of Salah's career, that one ridiculous goalscoring season will overshadow him when being considered for a vote in April. Having won the award in 2018 after scoring 32 league goals and assisting ten more, Salah probably isn't seen to have performed well enough - by that standard - to merit a second win.
It's an unfair comparison and probably rules him out for 2020 despite having contributed more goals and assists (20) than any other Liverpool player. Salah is a victim of his own success, highly unlikely to rank above either of his strike partners.

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