Kevin De Bruyne: Why the Man City star should beat Jordan Henderson to PFA prize


Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was named the FWA Player of the Year this week.

The Premier League-winning skipper defeated the likes of Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, his own teammates Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk and most notably Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City magician is viewed by many as the key rival to Henderson sweeping the individual awards and could still be crowned the PFA Player of the Year winner very soon.

De Bruyne or Henderson?

While most people would agree that De Bruyne is the superior footballer, there seems to be plenty of debate as to whether Henderson or the City runner-up should collect the most prestigious gong.

However, as far as this particular GIVEMESPORT writer is concerned, the race for the PFA award should be a complete no-brainer and that means De Bruyne taking home the prize.


Six reasons why KDB should beat Henderson

Let's get one thing straight, though, this is by no means an attack on Henderson and opining that he's been an inferior player to De Bruyne this season isn't exactly an insult, let's face it.

It's been incredible to see Henderson rising from a forgotten man at Anfield to the captain behind world, European and English champions.

All that being said, De Bruyne has to be the winner for me and here are my main six reasons why I think the Belgian international should be beating a Premier League champion to the prize.


1. Stats... but not those ones

Look, it's a really Barry Basic argument to say that De Bruyne deserves the award over Henderson because he's amassed 30 goal contributions compared to his Liverpool rival's nine.

The simple fact of the matter is that they play in wholly different positions.

But that's not say that De Bruyne doesn't statistically come out on top regardless, so let's look at match ratings to factor in over 20 data-sets both defensively and offensively.

De Bruyne is rated as the Premier League's best player this season - fitting for a PFA award winner, no? - with an average of 7.91, whereas Henderson is miles behind in 33rd place on 7.15.

Again, don't get me wrong, statistics aren't everything, but we're not even splitting hairs here because Henderson is behind the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Willian and Michail Antonio.


2. It's not BBC Sports Personality of the Year

This is not a slight on Henderson by any means. What he's achieved at Liverpool should be an inspiration to all young footballers that hard work can take you far and silence the doubters.

But this is an individual prize for the best footballer in the land and you can't help feeling that a lot of the support for Henderson is born from a feeling that it would be fitting for him to win.

The award, via the votes of the players, should go towards the player who everyone thinks has been the pound-for-pound best athlete in the league as objectively as possible.

Henderson has been downright brilliant this season, but I defy anybody to claim that not a single individual player has outperformed him and especially not De Bruyne.


3. Henderson hasn't even been Liverpool's best

A big reason why there's not a clear Liverpool favourite for this year's PFA award is because their remarkable success in 2019/20 has been born from teamwork and not individual star quality.

But even if we were to select the number one star in this Liverpool team, I'm not sure Henderson is your man and I think Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mane and Van Dijk have all out done him.

Statistically speaking, Henderson is ranked on WhoScored as Liverpool's seventh best player this season behind the aforementioned trio as well as Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip.

My vote would be Alexander-Arnold after his astonishing achievement of 13 assists from full-back and his display at Leicester is surely the best individual outing from any Liverpool star this year.


4. But what about those Henderson stats?

One of the biggest arguments in Henderson's favour is that Liverpool dropped just seven points in the 30 league games they've played with him, but eight points in the seven matches without.

It's an impressive statistic and not pure coincidence by any means. Henderson plays a unique role in this Liverpool team that, when the time comes, will be incredibly hard to replicate at Anfield.

But what's happened when De Bruyne has been missing for City? Well, it's only happened twice in the Premier League this season, but both games were defeats - against United and Wolves.

That, and the fact five of the points Liverpool have dropped without Henderson also happened to have come after they were confirmed as champions. The cause: Henderson? Maybe. Complacency? No doubt.


5. Making history... individually

Henderson deserves all the credit in the world for becoming the first Liverpool skipper to win the Premier League trophy but once again, we're talking about an individual award here.

The records that Henderson has broken this season have come collectively as a team - which is hardly a criticism, by the way - or from precedent because this is Liverpool's first post-1992 title.

De Bruyne, on the other hand, has it within himself in the next couple of hours to achieve something that has never been done before in the Premier League: surpass 20 assists in a single campaign.

And even if he 'only' equals the feat or comes up short, surely it makes more sense to reward the player knocking on the door of history for what they've done by themselves.


6. There's got to be consistency

It was interesting when Pep Guardiola came out this week and claimed that individual awards always go to Liverpool players, but that's not really the case... at the moment, at least.

The PFA voters showed their shrewdness over the last two seasons by correctly identifying that Salah and Van Dijk were the best players in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively despite City winning both titles.

And doesn't the campaign for Henderson feel born from the fact Liverpool have the trophy? It does for me, at least, so the voters should once again try to be objective and look past the league table.

If there's to be some consistency, then the results will once again show that the best player in the league this season did not indeed come from the champions and his name is De Bruyne.


So, only time will tell whether De Bruyne, Henderson or perhaps a wildcard take home the prize.

But as much as I think De Bruyne is the clear winner, there has been so much quality in the Premier League this season that celebrating any of its superstars is fine by me.

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