In Focus: Five stars overlooked for PFA Team of the Year
The PFA Team of the Year was announced on Thursday evening with the Premier League’s top performers awarded a spot in the prestigious XI.
However, while there was room for the likes of Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin De Bruyne, some other notable names missed out on selection.
We look at five of the unluckiest players to be overlooked.
Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
Logic would suggest that being the Premier League’s joint-top scorer would assure you of a spot in the best XI — but that was not the case for Tottenham forward Heung-Min Son.
The South Korean became the first ever Asian player to win the Golden Boot award after netting 23 times to help Antonio Conte’s side to a precious top-four finish.
What is more, Son’s tally included no penalties while his fellow winner Salah bagged five spot-kicks on his way to achieving the same number of strikes.
Also missing out on the six-man shortlist for PFA Player of the Year, the 29-year-old can consider himself criminally overlooked this awards season.
Declan Rice (West Ham)
Although Liverpool and Manchester City unsurprisingly dominated proceedings in this season’s best XI, there is a strong argument for West Ham star Declan Rice deserving a place.
The England international, 23, continues to go from strength to strength in East London and played a pivotal role in securing David Moyes' men's continental qualification next term.
No Premier League midfielder with 20 or more appearances could top Rice’s 91.6% pass accuracy across the campaign, while he also ranks inside the division’s top five for tackles and interceptions.
How much longer the Hammers can hold on to their talisman is up for debate — but he arguably should have featured in the Team of the Year.
Ederson (Manchester City)
There are plenty of similarities between Brazilian stoppers Alisson and Ederson and the Citizens No1 could easily have taken his compatriot’s spot in the best XI.
Liverpool keeper Alisson got the nod from his fellow professionals but there was nothing to split the division’s two standout stars, with both recording 20 shutouts last term.
A deeper dive into the numbers does suggest that Alisson made more saves overall. However, it was Ederson who ultimately came out with a Premier League winners' medal.
In a season of fine margins, perhaps that should have been the decisive factor — indeed, only three City players in the XI seems slightly unbalanced when compared with six Reds stars.
James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
It is widely accepted that players at so-called "smaller" clubs will have a tougher time receiving personal accolades and that certainly rings true for Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse.
At 27, the England international is only just starting to reach the peak of his powers and enjoyed a hugely influential campaign at St Mary’s with his boyhood club.
Reaching a double-figure goal tally for the first time in his career, the midfielder’s highlight reel from 2021-22 is unrivalled with his stunning free-kicks now widely regarded as the best in world football.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
If any centre forward in the division is going to argue against Ronaldo’s inclusion, it could only be Harry Kane.
Tottenham’s talisman took a long time to get going last term but eventually caught fire in typical style, notching 16 strikes in his final 24 league games to help seal Champions League qualification.
Though he finished a solitary strike behind Ronaldo in the final standings, the Three Lions skipper’s nine assists mean he actually recorded five more direct goal involvements than United’s No7.
Since Christmas, fellow Spurs star Son was the only man more prolific than Kane — things certainly bode well for Tottenham going forward next term.