By David McDonnell
Forgive me for not joining in the stampede to crown Jack Wilshere as PFA Young Player of the Year.
It seems a foregone conclusion that the precociously-talented Arsenal and England midfielder will win the honour, to the extent that no other players are even considered worthy candidates.
Wilshere is a special player, one who is destined for an illustrious career for club and country. His composure, skill and assurance on the ball are all remarkable for a 19-year-old.
But the notion that Wilshere is a certainty to be named Young Player of the Year is an insult to another emerging player who wins my vote for the accolade after an outstanding debut season in the Premier League.
Few people outside of his native Mexico had heard of Javier Hernandez when Manchester United announced they had signed the striker from Chivas Guadalajara for a fee of around £7million in January 2010.
But with 16 goals this season and having deposed United’s record £30m signing Dimitar Berbatov in the process, Hernandez has been a revelation – a prolific goalscorer in the mould of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Hernandez was expected to play a peripheral role at United this season, Sir Alex Ferguson and his staff viewing him as a burgeoning talent, one that needed nurturing before realising his full potential.
But the way Hernandez has adapted, not only to a new league and style of football, but a new culture and country, has been astonishing, with him likely to hit the 20-goal mark by the end of the season.
Given the current inflated state of the transfer market, with Chelsea having paid £50million for Fernando Torres and Liverpool replacing him with a £35m outlay on Andy Carroll, both of whom have yet to score for their new clubs, Hernandez is undoubtedly the bargain of the season.
And while Wilshere has dazzled in an Arsenal side that has once again flattered to deceive this season, going out of three competitions in 13 days with the title their only remaining target, Hernandez and United remain on course for a repeat of the club’s 1999 Treble.
That was the season when, famously, David Ginola won both the PFA and Footballer Writers’ Association Player of the Year awards, despite United’s unprecedented feat in scooping the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
Ginola’s shock triumph was explained by so many United players being nominated that votes were split between them, leaving the way clear for the Tottenham winger to claim the award, much to the incredulity of United boss Fergie.
Wilshere would not be as undeserving a winner as Ginola if, as expected, he is named Young Player of the Year, for he is a unique talent and a young man who has an incredible future ahead of him.
But if United go on to win silverware and Arsenal end the season empty-handed yet again, the contribution of Hernandez would surely merit individual recognition, even accounting for Wilshere’s prodigious talent.
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