Tottenham star Gareth Bale and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez head the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
Chelsea and Manchester United both contribute two names to the shortlist with the champions elect represented by Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick, and Eden Hazard and Juan Mata making the list for the London club.
Bale, though, is the odds-on favourite to win the award for the second time following his success in 2011, and the Wales international is also named on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Hazard also doubles up on the junior list, where he is joined by Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, currently on loan at West Brom, Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.
Van Persie won the senior award last season and looked to be the leading candidate to hold onto the trophy at the turn of the year. However, a drop in the Dutchman’s form, coupled with Bale’s stunning performances for Tottenham, which have seen him score 22 goals in all competitions, led to a swing in the Welshman’s favour.
Suarez, with 22 league goals for a Liverpool side that has struggled for consistency, is the second favourite to win the coveted trophy, first awarded to Leeds United defender Norman Hunter in 1974.
The striker – once banned for eight games for racially abusing Patrice Evra – is a controversial figure, but PFA chairman Gordon Taylor said he was worthy of a place given his performances for Liverpool.
“Sometimes controversy travels with players,” said Taylor. “Sometimes it is in their very nature. Sometimes it is that very intensity that causes a problem also makes sure they win.
“Luis Suarez is helping to restore Liverpool. It is a credit to them that he seems comfortable there and no one could deny he is one of the finest players in the world.
“It is very difficult at times. Players are expected to be top role models and set the finest example. That goes with the trade these days. I don’t underestimate the need for them to do all they can to be seen as a good example. But they are also human beings. It is not always possible to put old heads on relatively young shoulders.
“This is a footballing award and Suarez’s footballing ability shines through. It would be naive to think controversy won’t continue to travel with him. But I think his football has maintained his place.”
Mata’s imperious performances for Chelsea have outshone even team-mate Hazard, but neither Chelsea playmaker is expected to be in genuine contention. Carrick, meanwhile, has had a fine season for United, but the quintessential unsung hero will also be disappointed, according to the bookmakers.
The Young Player of the Year shortlist has two rather contentious choices given Wilshere, the winner in 2011, has had an injury-hit season and Welbeck has scored just one Premier League goal all season.
Belgian strikers Benteke and Lukaku join compatriot Hazard on the shortlist after scoring 15 and 13 league goals this season respectively.
PFA Player of the Year shortlist: Gareth Bale, Michael Carrick, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie.PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist: Gareth Bale, Christian Benteke, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere.
PFA Women’s Player of the Year shortlist: Gemma Davison, Toni Duggan, Jessica Fishlock, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs, Jodie Taylor.