David de Gea can break the 19 year award drought

Between now and when the verdict is announced, bar-keeps across the world will hear of customers discussing who is worthy of winning the Premier League Player of The Year award. Social Media, on the other hand, is already full of it.

David de Gea, Eden Hazard and Harry Kane are the trio being tipped for this year’s prestigious award. This is one of few seasons in recent memory that a goalkeeper is seen as such a serious contender and perhaps more deserving than the rest.

 

Had the voting took place in November, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa would be amongst the names in contention. Cesc Fabregas too, providing Chelsea’s Brazilian born Spanish striker with an array of assists, but all three suffered blips be it through injury, suspension or a loss of form.

Chelsea’s Hazard may be one that ‘got away’ for Manchester United – after having a gentleman’s agreement with the club – before signing with the Londoners. At times this season he has produced real moments of magic but consistency should have a big say in who warrants this award.

Since the return of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, the Belgian winger has developed defensively without taking anything anyway from his other attributes. Hazard is becoming a complete footballer and the focal point of Chelsea’s current side.

Last season it was argued whether they were too reliant on the 24-year-old, but with recruitments such as Costa and Fabregas in attacking positions, Chelsea have become a formidable force with balance.

Then, in terms of consistency this season, surely Spur’s Harry Kane would rank above Hazard? And, considering how vital de Gea has been to his club’s League standing, I would split the plaudits by giving the Tottenham Hotspur striker Young Player of The Year.

Kane should win that regardless of how he does in the main award. It’s an outstanding story – club and country – and I can’t help but hope it continues for Kane.

Although I wouldn’t go as far as former Manchester City and England midfielder Rodney Marsh who said Kane is worth £100m, he’s undoubtedly a handful for defenders and could make a big money move if his form continues next season.

David de Gea, in my opinion, is most worthy of the award. When you reflect on Manchester United’s results this season, you can only imagine where they would be without the Spaniard between the sticks. It’s his job, yes, but he’s better than anyone else at that.

The Spanish have been lucky enough to have a goalkeeper of Iker Casillas’ class for so many years with numerous quality back-up options available. While the Real Madrid keeper has suffered with form over the last two seasons, de Gea’s development has warranted him a place in the first team ahead of Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina, goalkeepers rated highly in Spain and both with bundles of experience.

Development has been key to David de Gea’s success. When he arrived in England and made a few costly errors, the media gave him a roasting. The same group of journalists that appear much more understanding whenever Joe Hart makes a blunder or dropped by Manuel Pellegrini.

 

In his first season at United the kit looked like a nightgown on de Gea. He stood in goal like a scrawny teenager, face covered in fluff and lacking in presence. Now he is amongst – if not the – best goalkeepers in the world. Eric Steele, Chris Woods and now Frans Hoek have worked with him at Carrington and all deserve praise.

However, most remarkable about the Spaniard this season is how you could argue he’s made absolutely no mistakes since the opening week in August. Or at least none that were crucial.

The last goalkeeper to receive the Payer of the Year award was Peter Schmeichel and that was back in 1996 when Manchester United collected their 10th League title. It’s remains very unlikely that the club will catch Chelsea and win the Premier League this season, but de Gea’s impact has been greater than any player in the league this season.

It said a lot about the David Moyes’ reign when David de Gea was named Manchester United’s ‘Player of The Year’ but he has been even better this year. The difference under Louis van Gaal is the players seem encouraged and are playing together as a unit. Everything is beginning to click.

The summer months will answer two major questions – Will de Gea be the first goalkeeper in 19 years to be crowned Player of the Year? And, more importantly, will Manchester United be able to keep him at Old Trafford?

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Dale O'Donnell

Freelance journalist and StrettyNews.com editor since 2010. Published on Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun's Dream Team, BBC Sport, Telegraph and more.

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