In England, Gareth Bale and Jack Wilshere were recently awarded the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year respectively. It’s puzzling that Bale can be seen as better than Wilshere in the overall award, yet Wilshere is better when comparing the two in the young player category.
Although the English PFA Player of the Year award has been decided, here in Scotland, the nominees for the SPL Player of the Year have only just been announced, with Kilmarnock’s Alexei Eremenko, Rangers’ Steven Naismith and the Celtic pair of Emilio Izaguirre and Gary Hooper, up for contention.
Eremenko signed for Kilmarnock on a season long loan in the summer, from the Ukranian side FC Metalist Kharkiv. Kilmarnock’s season has been impressive so far, especially after I tipped them for relegation in pre season, and Eremenko is one of the main reasons behind this. Every team has their good players, but Eremenko takes this a step further and is the heartbeat of the Killie team in his role as play maker. His outstanding form over the season has unsurprisingly drawn the media into linking him with the Old Firm and i wouldn’t be surprised to see Celtic making a bid for him in the close season, with FC Metalist already putting a £1 million price tag on his head.
Last season, Rangers had four players up for the award, but this year, their sole nominee is Steven Naismith. I am slightly surprised by his inclusion in the nominees, especially when his second half of the season has been quiet, although the very nature of the voting process does benefit players who have had a good start to the season. Naismith’s time at Rangers has not been as prolific as his time at Kilmarnock, although this season he is showing signs that his shooting boots have returned and that has made him one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Celtic’s first nominee is Gary Hooper, who signed last summer from Scunthorpe United, in a move worth nearly £2.5 million. For me, his main asset is his pace and with that, his goalscoring ratio. He is a striker and you might assume that he should have a good goalscoring ratio, it is his job after all, but there are not many who can achieve a goals to games ratio of 79% in the SPL – just ask Georgios Samaras, who only has a ratio of 11%.
The nominess are completed by another Celtic player, Emilio Izaguirre, who signed in the summer for a reputed £650,000 from Motagua in Honduras. For me, he has been the best player in the SPL by far, and fully deserves to win this years Player of the Year award. Although he could be correctly be described as a full back, that doesn’t seem to do him justice and a wing back is more apt, especially when his main strength is in attack. I am tempted to draw comparisons with another great attacking wing back, Roberto Carlos, although Izaguirre doesnt quite have thighs the size of a grown man’s waist.
I have yet to see Izaguirre play at the left of midfield, but I wouldnt be surprised if he is utilised there at some point in his career, because his pace, coupled with his ability to turn full backs inside out, is something that most wingers would dream off.
Unfortunately for the SPL, I have a feeling that Izaguirre has caught the attention of many in England and Europe and will most likely be the subject of a bidding war in the summer, especially if, as I suspect, he wins the Player of the Year.