PFA Player of the Year odds sum up how one signing helped shift the title race
The odds for the PFA Player of the Year award have been released and a relatively unglamorous name is heading the early betting.
Goal scorers and match winners tend to dominate the chase one of the most prestigious individual awards in English football, with Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard the most recent winners of the title.
Yet it is Hazard’s Chelsea team-mate N’Golo Kante who has emerged as the early front-runner in this year’s poll, with professional players across England set to submit the votes in the coming weeks.
While Hazard, striker Diego Costa and colourful defensive talisman David Luiz may have been promoted as the stars of Chelsea’s march towards this season’s Premier League title, Kante’s signing from Leicester last summer looks set to be marked down as one of the most significant of this campaign.
“I think he’s a complete midfielder, not only a defensive midfielder,” Conte says of Kante. “He has fantastic stamina also good technique, good positioning, a good personality.
“He can play box to box, but I prefer to respect the position. I like when N’Golo goes to press, and with this system I ask a lot to press, to go forward. I think N’Golo is very good at this.”
Kante is looking to win his second successive Premier League title after playing a pivotal role in Leicester’s success last season, with his team-mates Costa and Hazard also in the mix for the PFA’s top prize.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahomovic and Tottenham’s Dele Alli are also listed among the top contenders, yet it seems likely that a Chelsea player will be crowned a star of the season that has been dominated by Conte’s Blues.
It may be somewhat refreshing if a holding midfielder is lauded as the most influential player in the Premier League this season, with the awards ceremony set to be staged in late April.
PFA Player of the Year 2016/17 odds
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) 5/4
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 3/1
Diego Costa (Chelsea) 13/2
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) 12/1
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 14/1
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 16/1
Dele Alli (Tottenham) 16/1
LAST 10 PFA Player of the Year winners
2007 and 2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2009 - Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
2010 - Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
2011 and 2013 - Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
2012 - Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
2014 - Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
2015 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
2016 - Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)