Football is about winning, so if you judge who should receive the PFA Player of the Year award on Sunday by who is best at that, then there is really only one candidate: N’Golo Kante.
Kante, a central figure in Leicester’s Premier League success last season and Chelsea’s this term, is on the brink of lifting the trophy with different teams in his first two seasons in English football. That is extraordinary.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said it will be a miracle if the Blues are crowned champions in his first season, given the improvement that was required on their 10th-placed finish in the last campaign.
Without Kante, that miracle simply would not be happening. And if they are to crumble during the remaining few games and hand the title to Tottenham, it will be the fault of other players going soft – not the France midfielder.
The bizarre thing about Kante is that you never really see him speaking or issuing instructions on the field. Instead he sets and example and the tempo for his colleagues. He is not a talker but a doer.
Forwards only have one job
Strikers often win these awards but every player who isn’t a centre-forward will tell you that they get too much credit.
They are the most selfish people in the world and, especially at the top teams where they are surrounded by creative players laying on several good chances per game, they only have one job.
Forwards at sides lower down the table have other responsibilities too; they have to create opportunities as well as be in the penalty box.
That’s why I rate someone like Shane Long at Southampton. He scores goals, but on top of that he runs, fights and generally upsets defenders. Sergio Aguero does not have to do that for Manchester City.
Eden Hazard, who is also on the PFA award shortlist, has one foot in each camp in that respect.
The Chelsea attacking midfielder creates for his team and makes space for other players as well as getting important goals.
He’s a great decision-maker, whether it’s assisting or scoring
He’s the sort of player that I love, but when it comes to who should be player of the year, without hesitation I’d say Kante.