Liverpool trio lead PFA nominations
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard lead the nominations for the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award.
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Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Southampton’s Adam Lallana complete the six-man shortlist, which was announced on Friday.
The winner of the award, as well as the PFA Young Player of the Year award -- for which Sturridge is also nominated, along with Anfield teammate Raheem Sterling -- will be announced at a ceremony in London on Sunday, April 27.
The Reds’ trio have led Liverpool’s unexpected charge for the title this season, with Suarez scoring 29 goals in as many Premier League games, Sturridge grabbing 20 in 26 and captain Gerrard scoring 10 and assisting a further 13 in 30 league games.
Gerrard’s form recently prompted Zinedine Zidane to say his services to Liverpool and football are deserving of a league title.
"He has had a great career winning many things -- but it would be a big shame for him if he was never to win the league with Liverpool," Zidane was quoted as saying. "For everything that he has given -- he deserves a league title.
"I don't think that is any secret that Real Madrid and Chelsea had big interest in him and that is just the teams the media knew about.
"He could have played for any team in Europe -- but he turned them down. That sort of loyalty should be rewarded with a title.”
Hazard has enjoyed his best season to date as a Chelsea player, helping them to challenge for the Premier League and make it into the semifinals of the Champions League, scoring 17 goals in the process.
His form led Jose Mourinho to label him the best young player in the world.
"I keep saying he has to improve," Mourinho said, following the 1-0 FA Cup win against Manchester City in February. "He needs to have his feet on the ground. Ronaldo and Messi are Ronaldo and Messi. Eden Hazard is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there, but give him time."
Toure has been the figurehead of City’s success as they have won the Capital One Cup and challenged for the title. The Ivory Coast international has scored 22 in 45 games in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Sturridge is also named on the shortlist for the Young Player of the Year alongside teammate Sterling. Hazard is another to receive a second nod.
Everton’s Ross Barkley, Southampton’s Luke Shaw and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey are also nominated after outstanding seasons for their respective clubs.
Barkley, 20, and Shaw, 18, have forced their way into contention for a possible England call-up ahead of the World Cup, while Ramsey scored 15 goals prior to December for Arsenal before having his season cut short by injury.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has been forced to react to speculation linking Barkley with a move away from Goodison Park, such has been his form.
Southampton will decide on Shaw's future at the end of the season after he reportedly attracted the attention of a number of clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
The winners will be announced at the PFA Awards ceremony in London on Sunday, April 27.