The factors behind who ends up with the PFA Player of the Year award have been varied down the years. Some winners have been obvious, others have triumphed in closer races, with various tangible and intangible factors considered in determining the most worthy winner.

But I like to think it should be awarded to the player that best combines purpose and panache. The player who best encapsulates and enchants supporters around the globe, while making impactful contributions for their team on a consistent basis. The player of the year should go the player of the year in its purest possible form. It’s why if the award was to be decided today, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez should be the recipient.

A lot of players who join a Premier League side from the continent struggle to adjust to the notoriously fierce tempo of the division, not to mention the physicality imparted by various outfits. But from this standpoint, there was never any doubt that Sanchez—an untamed, ferocious and unrelentingly energetic enigma of a player—was going to flourish.

Since signing for the Gunners from Barcelona in a big money deal, Alexis has been a revelation, adapting to English football with an insouciant ease and rattling in 19 goals and eight assists so far this season in all competitions.

It’s a fine return, but as aforementioned, statistics shouldn’t be the sole criteria when it comes to deciding the division’s best player. Sanchez has shown throughout the campaign that there’s so much more to his game than the devastating contributions he can make in the final third; there has not been a footballer quite as engrossing as him anywhere in England this season.

The Chilean plays the game in a refreshing way, one that makes him such an easy footballer to become enamored with. There’s something almost juvenile about the manner in which he charges around the field, a trait that has been preserved from the days a young Sanchez kicked a ball around the streets of his hometown of Tocopilla. But his insatiable desire to make any kind of impact for the Gunners—whether a stunning goal, an incisive assist or even just nicking the ball off an opponent inside Arsenal’s half—is incredibly endearing.

He’s a player that has transformed this team for the better too. The rawness with which he plays gives the Gunners a vital offensive edge, his versatility has been a crucial trait in Arsene Wenger’s men becoming more tactically flexible and the irrepressible work-rate that’s been unabated thoughout the season has been infectious to other team-mates.

All these qualities mean that Sanchez will be in the running for the award, of that there is little doubt. And there are some fine players who have each staked their own case to pick up the coveted gong.


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For Chelsea, Eden Hazard’s intricate mastery has been a joy to watch this season, as has the rumbustious center-forward play of Diego Costa and the peerless organization of John Terry. The title they look poised to clinch would give each of their cases a silver lining too.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is also a worthy nominee after a season in which he has enjoyed a stunning breakthrough. The scintillating displays turned in by Sergio Aguero for Manchester City at the sharp end of the pitch and the exploits of David de Gea between the sticks at Manchester United also make them strong contenders.

But there’s something aesthetically exceptional about Sanchez’s play. Not just in his thunderous finishing or how he often leaves a phalanx of toiling defenders in his wake, but in every single facet of the man.

Let’s not forget, Arsenal’s form left much to be desired in the early parts of the season, with the effervescence and industry of Sanchez carrying them to results and enabling the Gunners to remain in touch with the top sides in the league. To play such a critical role while adapting to a new division, new culture and new lifestyle takes both special talent and immaculate temperament.

We witnessed the effects of Sanchez shouldering such responsibility around new year, as the amount of minutes racked up put the Chilean physically in the “red zone”. But the forward has replenished, adapted and thrived so quickly and so impressively; after virtuoso displays for Chile against Brazil and for the Gunners in that 4-1 win over Liverpool, he’s looking back at full tilt.

You suspect that a strong finish to the campaign could potentially sway the vote in Sanchez’s favor too. His autumnal exploits were simply amazing and while they’ve not been completely forgotten, if he can help Arsenal to second place in the Premier League and into the FA Cup final with some virtuoso displays, he’ll be much more prominent in the minds of voters.

Nonetheless, Sanchez is a player who’ll receive plenty of nominations and rightly so. To make such an impact in a maiden campaign is nothing short of remarkable and the prospect of the Arsenal man getting even better next season is an ominous proposition for defenders, but a wonderfully tantalizing one for supporters.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball