You’ve got to have balls to shine like Jack has in a struggling side
JACK GREALISH (Aston Villa)
Lots of eyes on him this year – the question was, could he do it in the Premier League? He has gone above and beyond. He ghosts past players and there’s a reason why he’s the most-fouled player in the league. Eight goals and seven assists is a good return. People talk of James Maddison, Mason Mount, Dele Alli for England. They are all playing in good teams, established in the league. Jack is battling relegation, in a newly-promoted team, and it is hard to shine in that. You have got to have balls to do that. When he steps on a big stage, he grows and is a better player. He has to move clubs to kick on.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE (Manchester City)
When he doesn’t play City miss his penetrative nature, that aggressive side to their attack. He has 16 assists and eight goals this season and many come from the right side. You know what is going to happen, but he is unstoppable. He is one of the world’s best players. He’s had a very good year in a City side in massive transition.
JORDAN HENDERSON (Liverpool)
What a season he has had. Magnificent. He has every facet required to play different roles when asked. Even in a holding role he is creative. Fabinho got injured and he just sat in there and bossed it. It has been his best season by a mile from a player who was once a scapegoat at Liverpool. Will go down as one of their greats.
JAMES MADDISON (Leicester)
He has been huge for Leicester. He oozes quality, has a swagger. He takes set-pieces, receives the ball in tight areas. This season he has made another big step forward. Youngsters can have a big jump, improve, then go backwards a little. I had that a bit at Newcastle. He is driving through because of his mentality. He has knocked it forward and I give him total credit for that.
FRED (Manchester United)
Fans may see this as a curve ball but he has contributed massively. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has discovered who is with him this season. There have been highs and lows. Nemanja Matic is back onside. But Fred has been a constant. He’s been through the muck and the low points. He was mocked and laughed at as a £40m signing. Look at him now and he looks every bit of it, having settled in. He’s added grit and determination to United.
PIERRE HOJBJERG (Southampton)
People expected more of Southampton this season. They started like a drain. But I judge them from the moment they lost 9-0 to Leicester. To a man they have shown they are in it together and that scoreline won’t define them. Hojbjerg has dominated some games recently. He’s not glamorous or the most beautiful around the pitch. But he’s led a team through the muck and has found grit and determination.
ADAMA TRAORE (Wolves)
Do not get in this guy’s way! Credit to Nuno and Traore for his improvement. I have laughed at him in the past. He’ll go by you but kick it in the stand. His productivity was
DON’T MISS PART 3
FORMER Spurs and England star Jermaine Jenas continues his look at this season’s top Premier League performers by today running the rule over the outstanding midfielder players. INTERVIEW: Simon Bird