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Manchester City's Erling Haaland 1/3 to win PFA Player of the Year

Erling Haaland's unprecedented start to life at Manchester City has seen him priced up at 2/5 to be named PFA Player of the Year in his debut season.

Harry Kane remains his only challenger for the Golden Boot, with an impressive 15 goals in 18 games, but Haaland has taken goalscoring to a level not seen before in the Premier League with 21 in 16, and it's hard to envisage anyone else taking that particular accolade from him, but the PFA Player of the Year award isn't yet wrapped up.

bet365's Steve Freeth said: "It’s all about getting Haaland beat having been 6/1 when he was unveiled at the beginning of July and he seems to be in every pre-season multi going! 

"He was into 9/2 after his brace on his Premier League debut at West Ham and into 2/1 after back-to-back hat-tricks at the end of August. 

"He was into odds-on after another treble – this time against rivals Manchester United in early October and then 1/3 after a brace against Brighton. 

"While the likes of Odegaard (100/1 into 16/1), Saka (100/1 into 20/1) and Rashford (100/1 into 33/1) have been supported over the last few months at fancy prices, we’d happily take any of this trio having a strong second half to the season over the Norwegian. We’re just hoping his fellow professionals just get bored of his scoring every week…"

One potential stumbling block for Haaland is the expectations set, by both himself and others. A goal a game is now the expected minimum, and with City misfiring in other areas, people may look at what's different between their last two title-winning seasons and this one...

A clear hole in the Manchester City side ever since the twilight years of Sergio Aguero has been a proper centre-forward, and Haaland seemed to have resolved that issue - but at what cost? He's scoring more than a goal a game, yet City trail Arsenal by five points as we approach the half-way stage. Could it be possible the addition of Haaland has actually made City worse?

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Should Haaland's goals fire Pep Guardiola's side to the title, it's hard to see anyone else getting near the award; as we've seen in recent years, the PFA Player of the Year typically goes to someone who's been the catalyst for a side reaching new heights, or someone defying personal expectations.

Of all the greats we've seen in English football over the years, only Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and De Bruyne himself have retained the PFA Player of the Year award. 

In Ronaldo's case, after his two consecutive wins, despite being the reigning Ballon d'Or winner (who would come second the following year), he would be Manchester United's top goalscorer as they won a third straight title and reached a second straight Champions League final, but lost out on the PFA Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year to Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Steven Gerrard respectively.

Eden Hazard in 2015 is one such player who took his side back to the summit of English football. Chelsea were four years removed from their last title, and Hazard's 14 goals catapulted them to glory once more. Or Riyad Mahrez the following year. Frankly, the award could've gone to a number of Leicester's heroes, but Mahrez's 28 goal contributions were enough for him to claim PFA Player of the Year.

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One such hero, N'Golo Kante, joined a Chelsea side who'd endured a miserable campaign the previous year, finishing 10th. The Frenchman arrived, Chelsea won the title again, and Kante won an arguably belated PFA Player of the Year.

Mohamed Salah was one who certainly caught people by surprise in 2018 after his arrival at Anfield. Liverpool were still a way off being a functioning title challenger, but Salah was a whirlwind, scoring 32 goals on his (second) debut season in the Premier League.

The following year, Virgil van Dijk was a rank outsider at the start of the campaign but a shoo-in by the end of it. Liverpool were already a well-established attacking powerhouse under Jurgen Klopp, but Van Dijk's first full season coincided with the Reds going from conceding 38 goals to a league-low 22, and accruing 97 points - one behind champions City.

Then came De Bruyne's two wins, before Salah recaptured his old form to blow away all before him, and despite an underwhelming second half to the season, the Egyptian captured a second PFA Player of the Year.

Should Haaland miss out on the award, we look at some outsiders who may swoop in.

Kevin De Bruyne - 9/2

City's creator-in-chief Kevin De Bruyne once again leads the league's assist charts with nine and is second favourite for a third PFA crown, but may - not unlike his team-mate Haaland - suffer from lofty expectations. 

And frankly, for De Bruyne to win a third award, City will surely have to improve on their recent form; it's hard to see De Bruyne play in a side with Haaland that doesn't win the league and still see the Belgian come out on top.

Martin Odegaard - 16/1

Arsenal have plenty of people to thank for their unlikely title challenge, and Martin Odegaard is certainly one. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus is undoubtedly a big reason for the turn in fortunes at the Emirates, with Odegaard's form very much another.

The Norwegian has reportedly attracted the attentions of former club Real Madrid and currently ranks sixth in the league for goal contributions, and is second in the league for players with at least five goals and assists, behind team-mate Bukayo Saka. 

Should City fall short in the title race, it's hard to look past Arsenal, with a Gunner surely in the running for PFA Player of the Year.

Harry Kane - 16/1

Quietly slipping under the radar is Harry Kane. Having one of his best goalscoring seasons - only in 2016/17 and 2017/18 did he record a higher goals/90 figure - Kane is just two behind his tally for the entirety of last season. 

A player whose decline could've been in his mid-20s following a litany of ankle injuries is still going strong despite his 30s fast approaching, though Kane would go down as one of the best players to have never won the PFA Player of the Year award should it elude him throughout his career, and despite his goalscoring prowess this season, a mis-firing supporting cast would likely be his biggest hindrance. 

Bukayo Saka - 20/1

The Arsenal academy graduate has threatened to have a big impact on the Premier League since breaking through as a teenager, and last season was a huge step up for the winger. 

When first establishing himself under Unai Emery, Saka was commonly played on the left wing, with Mikel Arteta seeing him as an attacking left-back, before eventually finding his home on the right of a front four, ultimately becoming established in the England set-up.

Only De Bruyne has more assists than the 21-year-old, but - should Arsenal go all the way this season - he may suffer from the same problem as Odegaard, that while each of Arsenal's front four have impressed, there hasn't been one standout candidate who's been head and shoulders above the rest.

Marcus Rashford - 33/1

A little more has to happen here, but Rashford's recent performances have put him in the picture for Player of the Year.

Manchester United's disaster start to the Erik ten Hag era feels a very distant memory right now, with the Old Trafford outfit looking a really well-functioning side, and Rashford is very much at the forefront of the revolution. 

While Christian Eriksen and Casemiro have arguably been Manchester United's most important players this season, Rashford is the one catching the eye with a goal in all five games since returning from the World Cup.

They're big ifs, but if United can beat City in Saturday's derby and Arsenal at the end of the month, with Rashford perhaps on the scoresheet in both, Ten Hag's men will be eyeing up a top-two spot - and maybe even more...

Should the Red Devils find themselves in an unlikely title race, Rashford could well be in the running for PFA Player of the Year.

--

Below article originally published 1 July 2022

Erling Haaland is the 6/1 favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year following his summer move to Manchester City.

However he does have a bit of history to overcome if he is to win the award, with Ruud van Nistelrooy the only player to win PFA Player of the Year in their first season in the Premier League.

Mo Salah did win the award upon his return to the Premier League, when he was irresistable, scoring 32 goals and registering 10 assists – since the turn of the century, no player has reached 30 goals and not won PFA Player of the Year, with the exception of Harry Kane, whose 30 goals happened to be in the same season as Salah’s debut campaign for Liverpool.

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The Egyptian is second favourite at 7/1, though defending his crown will be no easy feat. Salah is nearing 600 senior appearances and turned 30 in June, and it’s not impossible we’ve seen the best of him.

His performances in the second half of last season may well put a few punters off too. The first 20 games of the campaign saw Salah notch up a ridiculous 25 goal contributions, leaving him as a short odds-on favourite for the award last January, but the two-time winner seemed to suffer from a bit of an AFCON hangover, with just 11 goal contributions in the final 15 games.

But having signed a new contract, Reds fans will hope he comes back refreshed and ready to go in August.

Previous winners

SeasonWinner
1992/93Paul McGrath
1993/94Eric Cantona
1994/95Alan Shearer
1995/96Les Ferdinand
1996/97Alan Shearer
1997/98Dennis Bergkamp
1998/99David Ginola
1999/00Roy Keane
2000/01Teddy Sheringham
2001/02Ruud van Nistelrooy
2002/03Thierry Henry
2003/04Thierry Henry
2004/05John Terry
2005/06Steven Gerrard
2006/07Cristiano Ronaldo
2007/08Cristiano Ronaldo
2008/09Ryan Giggs
2009/10Wayne Rooney
2010/11Gareth Bale
2011/12Robin van Persie
2012/13Gareth Bale
2013/14Luis Suarez
2014/15Eden Hazard
2015/16Riyad Mahrez
2016/17N'Golo Kante
2017/18Mo Salah
2018/19Virgil van Dijk
2019/20Kevin De Bruyne
2020/21Kevin De Bruyne
2021/22Mo Salah

Fellow two-time winner Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to make it three in the last four years, and is next in the betting at 8/1.

Unlucky to miss out to Salah in 2018, the brilliant Belgian struggled with a number of injuries the following season, limiting him to just 11 starts.

But he was back at his best in 2020, with 23 goal contributions from midfield, and even losing out on the title to Liverpool didn’t stop him winning the award, which he retained the following season, despite only making 23 starts, such was his impact when he was on the field.

Harry Kane is 10/1 to win a long-overdue PFA Player of the Year award. One of the Premier League’s all-time great goalscorers has reached 20 goals five times, with his lowest tally in the other three seasons being 17, yet he’s never quite done enough to get over the line, despite topping both the goalscoring and assist charts in 2020/2021.

But he was revitalised last season under Antonio Conte, and his injury problems may be behind him, missing just four games across the last two terms.

Cristiano Ronaldo, winner in 2007 and 2008 is 14/1 fifth favourite, but it remains unknown what kind of role he’ll play under Erik ten Hag. Now 37, it’s unlikely the Portuguese will play week-in, week-out, and despite still being a quality goalscorer, his overall game is miles off the standard he set back in 2007.

Premier League era trends to watch:

Only Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and De Bruyne have won the award in consecutive years.

The award has been won by three defenders, 12 midfielders and 15 forwards.

Of the 30 winners, only 13 won the title that season.

Of the 30 winners, only Van Nistelrooy managed it in his first season in the English top flight.

Of the 30 winners, eight won the Golden Boot in the same season.

Only Henry, Salah and De Bruyne have topped the assist charts and won PFA Player of the Year in the same season.

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