Premier League – Ronaldo heads PFA award list
Ronaldo, Torres and Fabregas are also among the nominees for the Young Player of the Year award, and are joined on the shortlist by Aston Villa pair Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, along with Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
After making a mockery of the ‘no end product’ talk with 23 goals and 20 assists last season, the twinkle-toed Portuguese star has taken the art of the goalscoring winger to astonishing new heights with 37 goals in just 40 games. Match-winning performances in the Champions League have added further fuel to claims he is currently the best player on the planet, and he is the overwhelming favourite to retain the Player of the Year Award he picked up last season.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
You would forgive most players for being a little daunted if they were plucked from their boyhood club, moved to a foreign country for a £26 million fee, and told to follow in the footsteps of legends like Dalglish, Rush and Fowler. Not Torres, who has ignored talk of complicated cultural and tactical adjustments, focusing instead on the business of scoring goals, of which he now has 29. Undeniably world-class – not even Rafa Benitez dares drop him.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Torres might provide the sparks, but Gerrard remains Liverpool’s heartbeat. It says much about the England midfielder’s consistently high standards that this season will not go down as his best, despite him weighing in with 20 goals and countless telling interventions. Even when Rafa Benitez’s side struggle, as they have this season, Gerrard’s desire and commitment never dip. Reds fans would not have let anyone else take that decisive penalty against Arsenal on Tuesday.
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Thierry Henry‘s departure to Barcelona last summer led many to speculate that Arsenal would drop out of the top four. Instead, Fabregas led them on an unlikely title challenge that has only faded in recent weeks. The young Spaniard’s passing range and accuracy never fail to astound, and he possesses a flair for the big occasion, having scored crucial goals against Manchester United, Milan, Liverpool and Tottenham this season. Hard to believe he is still just 20.
Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal)
With critics doubting Arsenal’s title credentials in the wake of the sale of all-time leading goalscorer Henry, the rangy Togolese forward stepped into the breach to fire the Gunners to the top of the table. His form has faded with Arsenal’s title challenge, but some of his strikes this term – including sublime volleys at Spurs and Newcastle – will linger long in the memory.
David James (Portsmouth)
Maligned for large periods of his career after high-profile mistakes for both club and country, James has produced his most consistent season to date, earning himself an England recall in the process. 15 clean sheets have inspired Portsmouth’s charge for European football, and with England’s young pretenders failing to earn the trust of Fabio Capello, the man once nicknamed ‘Calamity’ looks set to start the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign as his country’s number one.
Alex Chick / Eurosport