The PFA POTY Battle: Fernandes or Gundogan?


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PFA Player of the Year Odds

Individually, the race for the PFA Player of the Year award appears to be between two midfielders in Manchester: Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan.

While the former made an instant impact since joining Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, Gundogan has stepped up this season in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, netting 11 times in his last 12 league games.

Fernandes has also enjoyed a prolific goalscoring campaign, with 14 league goals in 24 fixtures this season, as well as 10 assists. The Portuguese playmaker is the current favourite for the individual honour (7/4), but faces tough competition from City’s German maestro (7/2), should he continue his rich vein of scoring form.

Let’s take a look at who could snatch the award now that De Bruyne has returned.

PFA Player of the Year Odds

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Does Fernandes deserve the POTY?

A lot of players take a bit of time to adapt to the Premier League, with many struggling to replicate the form they had showed to get their big move. No player in recent memory has hit the ground running quite like Bruno Fernandes, with the 26-year-old racking up 39 goal contributions in his first 38 games, with the comparisons to the great Eric Cantona’s influence growing in truth each week. This season, Fernandes averages either a goal or assist per game, continuing the magnificent form he showed in his first half of the season and clearly proving now that he is arguably the best player in the league and certainly the most influential.

His impact has been likened to that of Cantona in the 1990s and Robin van Persie back in 2012/13, as Fernandes demands excellence from his teammates and is a visible leader on the pitch with unrivalled goal contributions. The one drawback that may hinder his chances of picking up the Player of the Year award is that United are unlikely to win the league this season, with City’s incredible winning run taking them 10 points clear before the two meet in the Manchester derby next month.

If the blue half of Manchester continue to run away with the title, it will be difficult to not give the award to a City player, with Gundogan the most likely representative. However, in terms of goal contributions and influence on one team, is there a better man in all of Europe than Fernandes right now? Because simply put, if you take him out of United’s squad, the Red Devils would be lucky to crack the top four.

Fernandes to win POTY Odds

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Will Gundogan remain on top with De Bruyne's return?

Before this season, Gundogan’s greatest scoring season in England saw him notch six goals in the 2018/19 campaign, a tally which he broke this season in as many games, so as far as improvements go, not many can rival the German. City, like most teams, have had injuries to key players this season, with the notable loss of Aguero requiring others to fill the void that he leaves and the goals have since been spread out throughout City’s squad, with John Stones even stepping up with two league goals since December.

The likes of Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling have also chipped in with their fair share of goals, but it’s Gundogan who has been gaining most of the plaudits and he is without question the most in-form player this season.

City’s star midfielder De Bruyne has missed their last five Premier League games, a period in which the current league leaders have won every game, scoring 15 goals. This highlights the impressive step up that the German midfielder has made, as City haven’t broken stride, despite missing their best player, with Gundogan now actually scoring just two less this season than the Belgian bagged last season (13) in 2020/21.

With De Bruyne now back fit again, it will be interesting to see how Gundogan’s role changes and if he can continue this form or if the influence falls back on City’s number 17. However, City manager Pep Guardiola would surely be foolish to remove the German from his current role, as it is proving to be very profitable. If this is the case, Fernandes may end up becoming a clear winner. If not, Gundogan will battle the United man all the way.

Gundogan to win POTY Odds

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Other PFA Player of the Year odds and contenders

One of the more left-field picks for the PFA POTY award is Aston Villa’s captain Jack Grealish, who has performed brilliantly during a season of over-achievement for the Villains. The 25-year-old currently has six goals and 12 assists, as he continues to stake his claim for a starting spot at the Euros for England, and he has without question been the best player in the league outside of the ‘Big Six’ - Grealish is currently priced at 6/1 for the PFA POTY award.

Tottenham duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have established themselves as one of the finest attacking partnerships in Europe, combining on 13 occasions for goals this season. Kane especially has added a more playmaker style to his game and is currently top of the assist charts (11) as well as scoring 13 goals. However, as Spurs are struggling to even stay in the Europa League spots, the England captain would be an unexpected winner of the Player of the Year accolade. The 27-year-old is priced at 9/1, but if Spurs can rocket back up the league, Kane might be the favourite come to the end of the campaign.

Finally, we have the top scorer Mohamed Salah, who won the award in 2017/18 in his debut year at Liverpool where he scored a record-breaking 32 goals in one season. Salah has since won another Golden Boot and is on course to bag another this campaign with his 17 goals so, and if he does so, the Egyptian will equal legendary players like Alan Shearer with three in total - Salah is now 9/1 to win the PFA Player of the Year.

By Luke Feather

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