De Bruyne vs Henderson: BBC pundits vote for Player of the Year in 2019/20 Premier League

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An enthralling Premier League season is finally over after a mammoth 352 days, but who was the best player over the past 12 months?

Jordan Henderson, Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil van Dijk were among the standout performers in the 2019/20 campaign, but only one can be crowed the PFA Player of the Year.

Liverpool’s Henderson will be a popular choice. He captained the Reds to their first league title in 30 years and has already claimed the FWA Footballer of the Year award.

But when we’re talking about individual stars, it’s hard to look past De Bruyne, isn’t it?

The Belgian midfielder reached another level this season, equalling Thierry Henry’s Premier League record with 20 assists.

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With a total of 515 players to choose from, BBC Sport asked 24 of their pundits to reveal their choice for the award, with Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Jermaine Jenas all weighing in.

It proved to be a close battle between Henderson and De Bruyne for the prize…

Alan Shearer: Jordan Henderson (Henderson’s 1st vote)

Shearer: “I picked him because the way he has led that Liverpool team this season has been magnificent.”

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Ian Wright: Kevin De Bruyne (1)

Wright: “He is an elite footballer who is playing to the highest level - and that ceiling doesn't look like it has yet been reached.”

Danny Murphy: Sadio Mane (1)

Murphy: “There have been so many occasions where Sadio has been the game-changer, and the match-winner, not just with his goals but also by creating chances and problems for the opposition.”

Ruud Gullit: Virgil van Dijk (1)

Gullit: “He is still the most important player in this Liverpool side.”

Leon Osman: Kevin De Bruyne (2)

Osman: “Liverpool were a juggernaut in the league but it's tough to say one of their players stood head and shoulders above the rest, while De Bruyne did.”

Matt Upson: Sadio Mane (2)

Upson: “Out of possession, he is brilliant and he embodies Liverpool's whole ethos with his pressing, and then he is so deadly in front of goal too.”

Alex Scott: Jordan Henderson (2)

Scott: “For him to have been such a key part of a title-winning team is extraordinary.”

Chris Sutton: Virgil van Dijk (2)

Sutton: “If you take him out of that team then they are seriously going to miss him. You could take virtually anyone else out and it would not be the case.”

Rob Green: Jordan Henderson (3)

“What you don't see from the outside is the people who make the dressing room tick, and keep the team driving forward.

“Henderson has done that with a team that didn't stop until they won the league.”

Michael Brown: Kevin De Bruyne (3)

Brown: “He has been on another level. His stats are incredible and so is his all-round play.”

Mark Schwarzer: Jordan Henderson (4)

Schwarzer: “Henderson defines Liverpool as a club with his heart and determination - he has achieved against all the odds and proved all the critics wrong.”

Philip Neville: Kevin De Bruyne (4)

Neville: “De Bruyne has been the standout player with his passing range with both feet, and his vision - he has the ability in the final third to see and play the killer pass.”

Jolen Lescott: Sadio Mane (3)

Lescott: “Sticking with my theory that the the winner of the best player award should play for the title-winning team I would say Mane.”

Mark Lawrenson: Virgil van Dijk (4)

Lawrenson: “Look at how City have struggled at the back and that tells you a lot. There is not much between the two teams going forward and, if City had Van Dijk, they would have won the league.”

Micah Richards: Kevin De Bruyne (5)

Richards: “De Bruyne has been the best player this season, which is why he gets my vote.”

Karen Carney: Jordan Henderson (5)

Carney: “In terms of leadership, he is unbelievable. There are some players where people just don't see what they bring collectively to the table. He brings so much.”

Chris Waddle: Kevin De Bruyne (6)

Waddle: “The hardest part of football is to create, and he does it the best.”

Rachel Brown-Finnis: Jordan Henderson (6)

Brown-Finnis: “He's been absolutely critical in what Liverpool have done because when new players have arrived, like Van Dijk and Alisson, who have given them the lift in quality they needed, he has been able to establish to them what is expected in terms of their focus too.”

Pat Nevin: Kevin De Bruyne (7)

Nevin: “He is still the guy most likely to make me go "wow" and has done so many times this season.”

Stephen Warnock: Jordan Henderson (7)

Warnock: “Henderson has been instrumental in everything they have done this season and his leadership qualities have made the difference on so many occasions.”

Martin Keown: Virgil van Dijk (4)

Keown: “He has taken that next step and when I watch him play, as a former centre-half myself, I think he is almost perfect.”

Lindsay Johnson: Jordan Henderson (8)

Johnson: “It's because of his determination on and off the pitch. A true professional, he has been instrumental in Liverpool's momentum.”

Tim Cahill: Kevin De Bruyne (8)

Cahill: “De Bruyne is my pick but that's pure football.”

Jermaine Jenas: Kevin De Bruyne (9)

Jenas: “De Bruyne has been head and shoulders above any other player in the league, with the consistency of his performances, how dangerous he is and how he dictates games with his quality.”

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So, the pundits believe that De Bruyne deserves the award - although he’s pushed very closely by Henderson.

Reading their comments, many are putting Henderson above De Bruyne due to his leadership skills and ability to push his teammates.

Those are skills that can’t be understated, but for pure footballing qualities, we’re in agreement that De Bruyne was No.1 in 2019/20.

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