LONDON, April 13 – Leicester City’s remarkable season has been recognised with Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez all named on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
The Foxes trio are joined by West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil for the 43rd PFA Awards to be held in London on April 24.
Kane is also named on the shortlist for Young Player of the Year alongside Spurs team-mate Dele Alli, with Stoke keeper Jack Butland, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Everton duo Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley also nominated.
Vardy has 21 Premier League goals this season – just one fewer than leading scorer Kane – having formed a lethal partnership with Mahrez to help fire Leicester seven points clear at the top of the table with just five games remaining.
Mahrez, a £560,000 signing from Le Havre in 2014, has 16 Premier League goals and 11 assists.
Their success up front has been backed up by the tireless work in midfield of Kante, who manager Claudio Ranieri joked “was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts”.
Kane’s nomination comes on the back of another successful season which has seen him become the first Tottenham striker to register back-to-back 20-goal seasons in the Premier League, while Payet has been the brightest star in West Ham’s positive campaign.
The creative midfielder has nine goals and eight assists from 24 appearances – including some spectacular free-kicks – having missed six weeks of the season through injury.
Meanwhile, Ozil has been the creative fulcrum of Arsenal’s season, contributing 18 assists and six goals to the cause with Arsene Wenger’s side set to secure yet another top four finish.
Kane is the current holder of the Young Player award, but is tipped to be beaten to it by Alli, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season at White Hart Lane following his move from League One’s MK Dons with eight goals and nine assists, seven of them to Kane.
Should Kane or Alli win the award, Spurs players will have won four of the last five Young Player awards after Kyle Walker in 2012 and Gareth Bale in 2013.
Butland’s season suffered a cruel end when he fractured an ankle on England duty last month, but he had previously been in superb form for Stoke to help their push for European football this season.
Coutinho’s wonder strike against Stoke on the opening day of the season set the tone for the Brazilian, who has made light of the upheaval at Anfield this season to become a vital cog in Jurgen Klopp’s evolution.
Across the city at Goodison Park, Lukaku and Barkley have been the shining lights in an underwhelming campaign at Goodison Park, with Lukaku’s 18 goals ensuring Roberto Martinez’s side have not been dragged further down the table.