As the 2016/17 season comes to a close in just a few weeks time, the names have been selected for the annual PFA Player of the Year awards.
Despite dominating domestically throughout the season and looking on course for the treble, it isn’t a clean sweep for Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.
Below are the four nominations, and why they’ve been selected:
SCOTT SINCLAIR (CELTIC)
The Celtic wide-man signed from Aston Villa for £4m a day before the Hoops’ first game of the league season, and has made a storming impact since.
Scoring over 20 goals in his first season at the five-in-a-row champions, the Englishman has showed terrific skill down Celtic’s left-side, and finally plugged a gap that had been an issue for the last four years.
He has already secured the Celtic Player of the Year award as well as the Players’ Player of the year award last weekend. It’s fair to say it would be something of a huge surprise if the former Manchester City and Swansea man didn’t add the PFA award to those titles.
MOUSSA DEMBELE (CELTIC)
Despite initially struggling to win over the Celtic faithful, 20-year old Moussa Dembele shot himself to fame with a blistering hat-trick in the 5-1 Old Firm derby demolition at Celtic Park back in September.
Since then he has become the main focal point of this talented Celtic side. His power and pace has seen him slot home an impressive 31 goals in his debut season in Scotland. Signed at just £500,000 from Fulham, the powerful Frenchman is anything but a raw talent.
He has a sensational five goals in three Old Firm games, and has already been touted for moves to some top clubs in England for as much as £50m.
Injury and random dips of form throughout the season have curtailed him slightly, but Celtic will have a fight on their hand to keep him over the Summer, and is a firm contender to win the PFA gong.
Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen)
It seems to be widely accepted that when Jonny Hayes plays well – Aberdeen win. The dynamic has become the main source of attack for the Dons this season, with his blistering pace and directness of his runs resulting in him managing 11 assists and seven goals in the league this season.
He’s always willing to take the game to the opposition and is a defender’s nightmare with his directness. It’s not so much skillful feet Hayes has, but it’s the speed of how he goes past men and his quality of crossing that makes him so deadly.
He has been instrumental in Aberdeen’s run to second place this season, playing at a level even higher than last season’s title-chasing squad.
Despite his impressive form this term however, he remains an outside bet due to the dominance of Celtic – a side Hayes has struggled to make an impact against this season.
STUART ARMSTRONG (CELTIC)
Everyone has been aware of Stuart Armstrong’s abilities for some time, but it’s his turnaround in form that has earned him this nomination.
The Celtic midfielder was a bit-part player over the last two seasons, and seemed to struggle on the ball whilst being played out of position by previous manager Ronny Deila.
Yet, this term he has been shifted back into central-midfield and been a dominating figure in Celtic’s engine room. The energetic Highlander has 13 goals and six assists this season from a mostly deep-lying position, a massive improvement on the four he scored last season.
He’s now one of the first names on the team-sheet at Parkhead, and is being linked with multi-million pound moves to the English Premier League.
By David Walton