HomeFeatured ArticlesMahrez and Alli Deserved POTY Winners

Mahrez and Alli Deserved POTY Winners

The PFA Player of the year awards have occasionally thrown up some odd winners, but this year there can be little disgruntlement of the respective winners. Whilst I may not agree entirely with the PFA team of the season, Riyad Mahrez as Player of the season and Dele Alli as Young Player of the Year match my picks.


I was torn on the main award between Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, given how crucial Kante is in the Leicester system and how influential he has been for their team. His tackling and interception numbers rank right up there with the established European elite players for that position, a position that doesn’t get the plaudits and appreciation it deserves because without the likes of the Kante’s, the silky and more aesthetically pleasing players like Mahrez wouldn’t get the same platform to perform. However, I would narrowly opt for Mahrez for so many game changing moments and being the difference in some matches.

The key to Leicester’s success this season has been their effectiveness as a team, they truly are greater than the sum of their parts and despite Mahrez being a skilful individual, he has played his part in making the Foxes a strong unit. He has in no way been a ‘luxury player’, he’s put the work in alongside his team mates to be compact, organised and break at pace when they win the ball. His first half of the season was a blistering one, the goals were flowing and some of them spectacular. His skill and dribbling were a delight and although he’s recently gone through a lean spell in terms of goals, without the suspended Jamie Vardy, it was Mahrez that stepped up against Swansea to settle the nerves and inspire a dominating performance that puts Leicester within touching distance of an impossible Premier League title win.

Mahrez 1

The stats are interesting in that Leicester are not a possession based team, so Mahrez does not get a lot of touches to influence play, but what he is, is efficient. He’s still managed an impressive 11 assists, but the goals to shots ratio is striking; 1 in 5 of his shots have resulted in goals and with him averaging 2.4 shots per game, he has a goal every other game. Most strikers would be happy with that record, but Mahrez has predominantly being playing wide midfield, so his contribution has not only been impressive, but also crucial.

Mahrez 2

As I already stated, Leicester are not possession based, so Mahrez has not enjoyed as much of the ball as the attacking midfielders in teams around him. The number of assists he has compared to chances created show just how efficient Leicester have been this season and the stats also show how good and influential Mesut Özil has been for Arsenal. So, whilst Mahrez might not top every statistic table, his performances and influence in a remarkable season for Leicester warrant the award he has received.

For the Young Player award, I find it difficult to make a case for any other player, other than Jack Butland to trouble Tottenham’s Dele Alli this honour. Butland was exceptional for Stoke this season and it’s such a shame that injury will prevent him going to the Euros this summer with England. Dele Alli will almost certainly be there and probably start England’s opening game. It’s quite an achievement for a player who was in League One last season, let alone for one who has just turned 20. His magnificent strike against Crystal Palace is still my goal of the season and it will take something very special in the final few games of the season to beat it. That goal was all about the skill, technique, improvisation and sheer audacity that Alli possesses.  Some have compared him to Paul Gascoigne, who was a player of tremendous individual ability, but I don’t think Alli quite has Gascoigne’s skill level, but I do believe he is a more rounded player than Gazza was.

Alli also has the fire and tenacity to go with his technical ability and I wrote here on EPL Index earlier this year about him having the fire within him. I felt that it was something he will need to control as he matures; it was in no way a criticism, just an observation of something he will need to be mindful of if he is to fulfil the incredible potential he is showing. To get into double figures on goals in his first full season in the Premier League is a hell of an achievement and this well-deserved award he’s received could just be the beginning in an exciting career for the Spurs midfielder, who has played an integral role in the clubs successful campaign.

There have been a number of outstanding individual performers this season, but it’s good to see to see both the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards go to two thoroughly deserving talents.

Andy Wales
Andy Wales
Football writer and podcaster. Family man and Liverpool fan.
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