UNFP – Player of the Year Awards

Yesterday evening the French professional footballer’s union (UNFP) announced the shortlists for this year’s player awards in Ligue 1, Ligue 2 and the woman’s league.

The glitzy ceremony will be held on May the 22nd.  With one game to go in the league it could be a critical time in the season.

Let’s run through who’s nominated for what in Ligue 1, Ligue 2 will get it’s own article ;).

In the Player of Year category: previous winners include Zinedine Zidane, Yoann Gourcuff and last year’s winner Lisandro Lopez from Lyon.

Kevin Gameiro (Lorient) – It has been another tremendous season for the French striker. This is the first campaign he has scored over 20 goals and his form has led to Laurent Blanc calling him up to the national team. A deadly finisher, great burst of pace and superb movement. Mostly likely his last year at the Brittany club.

Eden Hazard (Lille) – Somewhat of a breakout year for the young Belgian, winner of “Young Player of the Year” for the last two seasons this year has seen Hazard step up his game and lead his team to a potential league and cup double. He has shown wonderful technique on the ball, excellent link up play with his teammates and has dazzled the crowds at the Stade Metropole this season.

Nene (PSG) – Moving from Monaco in the summer after a fine season in the principality has turned out to be a great move for the Brazilian midfielder. Took the league by storm before the winter break with 12 league goals. A scoring drought followed but his performances didn’t drop. Nene is one of the big reasons PSG are in with a chance of making the Champions League for next season.

Moussa Sow (Lille) – After moving to Lille on a free transfer there were no huge expectations on what the Senegalese striker would bring to the Northern club. No one expected him to score 21 goals. An abundance of power and pace and a great sense of positioning has seen Sow more often than not being in the right place at the right time. Questions remain over this being a “one-off” season, but you can’t knock the amount of goals he has scored.

The Goalkeeper of the year award has thrown up a few eyebrows. With Nicolas Douchez, Fabian Audard and Jeremie Janot not on the shortlist. Let’s have a look at the four goalkeepers that made the list.

Hugo Lloris (Lyon) – It has not been the diminutive goalkeepers best year between the sticks however he has still showed why he is one of Europe’s most wanted. Amazing reflexes, great shot stopper, the only questions mark that exist are over his size and weight. On a few occasions this season the physical side of the game has let him down.

Steve Mandanda (Marseille) – He may not be playing at the same level he was last year but Mandanda is still one of the best ‘keepers in France and possibly Europe. Some great performances in the league have been mixed with some inconsistencies. When he is at the top of his game he is a very tough opponent to overcome.

Michael Landreau (Lille) – Very much an unsung hero in the Lille side. After an injury hit start to his career at Lille he hasn’t look back, this season on more than one occasion he has been Lille’s savoir. He has only conceded 32 goals this season, averaging less than a goal a game, with 45 saves and 69 blocks. Without Landreau Lille would not be in the position they are in.

Stephane Ruffier (Monaco) – Probably the biggest surprise inclusion on the list, most “experts” would look to the likes of Nicolas Douchez, Cedric Carrasso, maybe even Fabien Audard. Ruffier started the season well. France’s third choice keeper at the World Cup. He is capable of making some world class saves with his excellent reflexes unfortunately he is prone to a clanger or two.

Now for the award Eden Hazard won in the previous two seasons – Young Player of the Year.

Mamadou Sakho (PSG) – It feels like this excellent young centre back has been around forever. Playing at the heart of the PSG defence has not always been an easy task but Sakho has excelled this season. Devastating in the air in defence and in attack. Sakho swallows up any high balls played into the box. He also has a cultured left foot and can pick out a terrific long pass. Next season he should become the captain of the capital club.

Andre Ayew (Marseille) – After the loan spell at Arles-Avignon and the successful trip to South Africa, Ayew came back with a rejuvenated spirit and went about cementing his place in the Marseille side. With the ability to play anywhere in midfield and attack, it is Ayew’s versatility that is such an asset to L’OM.

Marvin Martin (Sochaux) – Such an impressive season for the young midfielder, leading the league in assists his exceptional passing and link up play are a huge reason for Sochaux’s excellent scoring record this season. Calm and composed while on the ball Martin is such an elegant player to watch. He reads the game well and of course has a great eye for a pass.

Yann M’Vila (Rennes) – Another excellent season for the young midfielder, has blossomed under Fredéric Antonetti and was a huge part of Rennes starting the season so well. He has managed to secure his place in the national team, his performance at Wembley in Blanc’s 4-1-4-1 was a stand out point of the year, and catapulted his name to the Euroepan audience.

Twelve great candidates in three worth categories: there can only be three winners though.

What sort of site would we be if we didn’t pick our winners?

Player of the Year: EDEN HAZARD

Goalkeeper of the Year: MICHAEL LANDREAU

Young Player of the Year: MARVIN MARTIN

We’ll find out if the powers that be agree on May 22nd.

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