Kevin De Bruyne has retained the men’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.
Belgium star De Bruyne saw off competition from Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and three of his Manchester City team-mates – Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias and Phil Foden, who scooped the Young Player of the Year accolade.
Foden had been nominated for the young player prize alongside fellow England internationals Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood.
De Bruyne’s win in voting for the Professional Footballers’ Association main prize sees him match Ronaldo and Henry, greats from United and Arsenal who are the only previous players to have won the award in back-to-back seasons.
“The fact that the players chose me for this award means that I’ve done really well. You want to win all the trophies with the team, and this is probably the most important one as an individual trophy in the league,” De Bruyne said.
“To be voted for by your competitors… that means a lot.
“When you have these things, you can show your kids and say, ‘Look! This is what Daddy did when he was younger.'”
Only three Premier League players created more chances in the competition in 2020-21 than De Bruyne (80) – Fernandes (95), Mount (87) and Jack Grealish (81) – though all of them made more appearances than the 29-year-old.
De Bruyne crafted 19 big chances – defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – with only Fernandes (20) managing a higher total.
The City playmaker scored six goals and created a further 12 in the Premier League. In that regard, he was below his expected goals estimation (9.26), but some way above his expected assists of 6.21. Ten of his assists came from passes in open play, with two from set-pieces.
On average, De Bruyne created 3.6 chances per 90 minutes, more than any of those who made the PFA’s final list.
Foden, meanwhile, made fewer league appearances than any of his competitors for the Young Player of the Year award, and also tallied the fewest minutes (1,613).
However, his nine goals put him two ahead of the haul that Greenwood – his nearest challenger in that regard – managed, with his five assists second only to Alexander-Arnold.
Indeed, when calculated per 90 minutes, Foden averaged 0.5 goals and 0.28 assists, ranking him top among those in the frame for the award, while he also attempted more dribbles (4.18) with the highest success rate (2.83).
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Another City player to scoop an award was Lauren Hemp, who took the women’s Young Player of the Year prize.
Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby won the women’s Players’ Player of the Year award after a prolific campaign for Emma Hayes’ side in the WSL and Women’s Champions League.
Saturday had seen more awards sent City’s way, with Pep Guardiola named the Premier League’s Manager of the Season winner, while Ruben Dias took the league’s own Player of the Season prize.
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