Bale, Suarez?? Robin van Persie deserves it more than anyone
He’s the best player in the Premier League; nothing much has changed. He should have been in the FIFA World XI alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to some. Above all, Robin van Persie should be the name that stands ahead of all others for this season’s Player of the Year award.
There are only positives in this debate. While the Premier League may be losing its status as the best league in the world to either the rising power in Germany or the technical excellence of La Liga, English football needs a fiery debate to reignite the engines.
Maybe it’s not as clear-cut to most that van Persie should grab the accolade for a second consecutive year; there are players both in the north and in the capital who are doing incredible things, and well worth a mention for the right to be crowned player of the season.
But being the best isn’t always enough, especially in England. Fans need reminding why you’re the best and why you deserve personal awards ahead of everyone else. There’s often too much going on in the Premier League to be tied down to just one hero, and that is one of the league’s great strengths.
If the season finished in December and the award handed out then, van Persie would have won. Yet what has he done since then? Over the past few months, has he been better than Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale or even Michu? Where’s Juan Mata in all this?
Though that’s largely the point: people will question what he has done in the past few months rather than over the entire season. Van Persie is far too good to completely break down between now and the end of the season. By May, most will remember what they’ve seen in the weeks leading up to the final weekend. But Luis Suarez has had his critics for failing to convert earlier in the season and Bale wasn’t even a serious contender for the award in the first half of the campaign – certainly not when players like van Persie and Juan Mata were the standouts.
It also isn’t just about who won the league title or played a part in a successful European campaign. Even if Liverpool finish well outside the top four, most at Anfield will say that Suarez has nevertheless been the best player, predominantly because of his value to the club and where they’d be without him.
Where would Swansea be without their best player? What about Spurs? Yet that’s an argument that can be had for many clubs up and down the country. Jack Wilshere has been Arsenal’s star performer this season, but he isn’t and shouldn’t be mentioned as a contender for Player of the Year. Manchester United are going to win the league title because of their Dutchman in attack, and yet to some that might not be enough.
But it should be.
Even with what can be described as a cold past few months, where van Persie has only scored once in his last seven while squandering a few golden opportunities against Real Madrid, he has still made Alex Ferguson’s team the best in England and changed games in their favour when the only outcome looked to be a loss.
Scoring form doesn’t necessarily take away from how good van Persie is. If there is a heated argument against the Dutchman winning the award, then it’s only because people have forgotten how good he is, through no fault of their own.
You look at names like Isco and Radamel Falcao, where few teams in world football would turn their noses up at either player, and yet the discussion has cooled down on both in recent months. Have we forgotten how good they are? Probably, it’s certainly not as prominent in the mind as it was earlier in the season. But it doesn’t take anything away from what they’ve done.
Advocates of Real Madrid will say Ronaldo should have won the last Ballon d’Or because of his season with Madrid and his performances in the Clasicos. But it wasn’t enough. He was fantastic, mesmerising. Without his league goals – all 46 of them – where would Madrid have finished? They should have won the Champions league, too, or at least gotten closer than they did. And yet the nagging feeling inside Ronaldo’s head was that he knew it wouldn’t be enough to swing the majority of votes in his favour.
As the holder of the award, it is only van Persie’s to lose. Since arriving at Manchester United he’s at times looked like a man possessed, playing with that same level of brilliance that Arsenal fans were so accustomed to but now with an added belief that his efforts will pay off big come May.
It takes nothing away from the others, much in the same way that Messi’s fourth Ballon d’Or award is unlikely to force us to forget Ronaldo’s season last year. But van Persie remains the leading light in English football, and this second year will offer much more of a foundation to keep him at the top of the mountain.