With voting for the PFA Awards set to take place any time now, we look at the one leading contender who is making late waves.
It’s about this time of year that the Professional Footballer’s Association drop their ballot papers into the 92 clubs in England and the boys in the dressing room copy each other’s selections.
It’s a quite simple process, with each player naming the Player and Young Player of the Year, but West Brom’s Youssouf Mulumbu made a hash of it last year when he got his Player of the Year and Young Player of the Years the wrong way round – selecting Harry Kane as Player of the Year and Eden Hazard as Young Player of the Year.
— talkingbaws (@talkingbaws) April 8, 2015
However, barring incompetence, there are a few simple rules to abide by and, incidentally, copying is not one of them, but we can certainly expect a degree of dressing-room consensus before the pros mark their cards. For example if Andros Townsend votes for Kane in the Young Player category this year – and as a former Spurs team-mate that is more than likely – then expect his Magpies team-mates: Jonjo Shelvey et al to do exactly the same thing in a domino-rally type way.
Just what impact that will have on the vote remains is unclear, but ignoring that there are a few rules to follow. Players are not allowed to vote for a player that is at the same club as themselves. This applies for both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award and also the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Another stipulation is that a player can only win an award if their club has taken part in the ballot. The members must then sign, fold and then give their envelope to the PFA representative who will seal the vote.
The PFA use an independent company to count and verify the votes cast, and completed ballots are sent directly to Beever & Struthers Chartered Accountants for an April announcement.
The bookies have chalked up six leading contenders and one man who is pushing his claims and who looks good value at 12/1 is Dimitri Payet.
The West Ham star is definitely making a late charge to win the top prize with three man-of-the-match awards, four assists and five goals in his last 10 games (Whoscored.com stats). Payet is certainly relevant at this point in the season and that counts for plenty when those ballot papers hit those dressing rooms.
It is important you think like a pro when you analyse the market, so considering the average professional has the memory capacity of a goldfish – then those three seconds before penning their nominations are crucial. Payet might not have too many old team-mates in the Premier League to do him a favour, but he’s as topical as Donald Trump and infinitely more likeable.
The Hammers took a gamble on the tubby 28-year-old last summer and handed the playmaker a five-year contract in a deal worth more than £10million. His stats at Marseille last term were fantastic, but there were not too many clubs who were willing to take a chance on the player closing in on 30.
Payet recorded 17 assists – the best in France and the fourth best in any major European league in 2014/15 – but he also created 134 chances – more than anyone else in Europe. And Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan was not in any doubt.
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“We have signed a world-class player. If he was 22 he would be £30m plus, but he’s still in his prime,” beamed Sullivan last summer and nine months later it’s hard to argue.
Payet has scored eight goals and collected seven assists and with an average rating of 7.7 to his name only Riyad Mahrez (11/8) has a better average rating. His Leicester team-mate Jamie Vardy is the 11/10 favourite and considering all the hullabaloo surrounding the speedy frontman he is a worthy man to head the market.
But Payet, who is not a guaranteed a place at Euro 2016 because he does not see eye to eye with France boss Didier Deschamps, might just have made a big enough impact over the last few months to get himself the nod from his fellow goldfish.