Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie are in the running for a second Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Player of the Year award after a six-man shortlist was revealed.
The 2013 winner will be announced at a dinner in London later this month with Van Persie’s Manchester United team-mate Michael Carrick, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and Juan Mata as the other nominees.
Bale was the winner in 2011 but has hit career-best form this term, his thrilling bursts of speed and 17 Premier League goals inspiring Tottenham’s Champions League charge.
Van Persie was honoured last year after his most fruitful campaign for Arsenal but a £22.5million move to Manchester United has proved no burden.
The Dutchman’s 21 league goals for the champions-elect have been decisive in the title race, while behind him, Carrick has been a constant stabiliser in a rotating United midfield.
Hazard has netted 12 times for Chelsea in his first season since joining from Lille for £32m, while Mata’s influence has grown in his second term at Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard contributing a league-best 10 assists as well as 18 goals.
Suarez may long have courted controversy but the Liverpool striker has made the headlines for more of the right reasons in Brendan Rodgers’ debut campaign at Anfield with a league-leading 22 goals and 29 in all competitions.
Bale and Hazard are also nominated for Young Player of the Year award with Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere completing the list.
Aston Villa striker Benteke has been a bright spark for Paul Lambert’s strugglers, bagging 15 Premier League goals so far this season, while his Belgium team-mate Lukaku is also in contention having netted 13 times in 15 Premier League starts on loan from Chelsea at West Brom.
Versatile Manchester United forward Welbeck, in line for a first Premier League winners’ medal, also makes the shortlist, and Arsenal midfielder Wilshere, winner of the 2011 Young Player’s Award, is rewarded for an impressive return from a series of injuries.
The PFA has introduced a new award for stars of the women’s game, with Arsenal and England striker Gemma Davidson, Everton forward Toni Duggan, Seattle and Wales midfielder Jessica Fishlock, Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs – also from Arsenal – and on-loan Birmingham forward Jodie Taylor the six nominees.