The PFA Premier League Team of the Year was announced on Wednesday morning, with very few surprises in the final eleven.
Recently-crowned champions Manchester City dominated proceedings with five inclusions, while Tottenham were next in line with three, and Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have one each.
The PFA Premier League Team of the Year!
— PFA (@PFA) April 18, 2018
While a case can very easily be made for all eleven players (some stronger than others), there are those that would surely have run the final selection close – players having fantastic individual seasons who, in another year, might have found their names in among the eleven.
Here are a few potentials for that category:
Leroy Sane (Manchester City). It seems a bit odd that a player nominated for the PFA Player of the Year (and Young Player) wasn’t included here – and , indeed, Sane was the only member of that half-dozen strong lost not to be named in the team. The 22-year-old has been in fantastic form for Man City this season, chipping in with nine goals and twelve assists in a side that is bristling with creative talent. It was enough to earn the German forward two nominations for individual honours, but not for the team of the year.
Fernandinho (Manchester City). At the risk of flooding this team with Man City players, the inclusion of Fernandinho would surely not have been a controversial one. The Brazilian midfielder does an excellent job at the base of the midfield – a particularly thankless task given the propensity of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to leave him battling opposition midfields on his own at times. What the 32-year-old does might not stand out as much, but it is just as important to City’s success.
Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur). Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso has had a solid, if unspectacular season – much like the majority of his teammates. His selection is, for many, the biggest gripe with the Team of the Year, purely because his campaign was less noteworthy that everyone else’s on the list.
That in itself gives rise to potential alternatives – and while Andrew Robertson and Ashley Young would deserve to be part of that conversation, Ben Davies has arguably the most consistent left back over the course of the entire season. Given an extended run in the side thanks to Danny Rose’s injury, the Welshman has kept Rose out of the team and made the position his own this year. He is Pochettino’s first choice now, and with good reason.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool). It’s hard to tell at this point if Firmino is still underrated by those that don’t support Liverpool, because his qualities should be obvious to just about everyone by now. A relentless ball of energy, the Brazilian forward never stops running, tackling and covering every inch of grass that he can in every match he plays in. Although he is not a number nine in the traditional sense, he has still chipped in with 15 goals this season (25 in all competitions).
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City). Even when Leicester have endured another frustrating season, Vardy has remained consistent. The England international has chipped in with 17 Premier League goals so far this season – more than high-profile summer signings Romelu Lukaku, Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata have managed. The Foxes will finish another league campaign in midtable, but Vardy will go to the World Cup in fine form.
James Tarkowski (Burnley). Promoted to first-choice centre-back in the wake of Michael Keane’s departure last summer, Tarkowski has had the season of his life at surprise package Burnley this season. The 25-year-old has formed a fantastic partnership with Ben Mee at the heart of the Clarets’ defence, and the campaign even saw the former Brentford man earn his first England cap.
Nicolas Otamendi had a fine campaign with Man City this year, but does Tarkowski perhaps have a better care for inclusion?