The English Premier League has grown tremendously and almost every club has at least one or two players that can be considered worldwide or are in the process to the level.
But there is already a high good number of players that can be counted as an international professional player.
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk unsurprisingly leads the six-man to shortlist for this season’s Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.
Centre-back Van Dijk joins Reds team-mate Sadio Mane on the list, while England forward Sterling is included alongside fellow City players Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard completes the nominees for the 2018-19 campaign, with the winner scheduled to be announced on Sunday, April 28 at the PFA’s annual awards ceremony in London.
It is perhaps no surprise to see Liverpool and Man City share five of the six nominees, given they are fighting it out in one of the most enthralling title tussles in Premier League history.
The key difference between last season’s Liverpool entertainers and this year’s contenders is at the back, where Van Dijk has impressed.
The Dutch defender has been superb for Jurgen Klopp’s title-chasers and is the bookies’ favourite to win the coveted trophy.
Liverpool is chasing domestic glory, and Van Dijk has helped Liverpool keep 18 clean sheets and concede only 20 times, while also chipping in with three goals.
But Sterling has equally been as impressive for Manchester City, enjoying a stunning season as Pep Guardiola’s side eye a memorable treble.
The England superstar has contributed 17 goals and nine assists going into the weekend with City, who have already won the League Cup, looking to retain their top-flight crown.
The Liverpool vs Manchester City battle echoes last season, when Mohamed Salah pipped Kevin De Bruyne to the individual prize, despite City winning the Premier League title.
De Bruyne and Salah didn’t make the cut this year despite both playing crucial roles for their respective teams, both clubs had other representatives.
Senegal international Mane included ahead of last year’s winner Salah – has enjoyed a stellar season for Klopp’s side, hitting 18 league goals as the Anfield club attempt to end a 29-year wait to be champions.
Alongside Sterling, City pair Aguero and Silva have also been integral parts of the division’s best attack this term.
Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, has registered 19 of the club’s 86 goals and provided seven assists, while Portuguese Silva, who has become increasingly influential at the Etihad Stadium, has managed six goals and seven assists.
Hazard completes the list, having been a standout performer for Chelsea despite their inconsistent performances in Maurizio Sarri’s debut season at the helm.
The Belgian, the only candidate to have previously won the award (2015), has been directly involved in more top-flight goals than any other player this term, scoring 16 and setting up 12 for Maurizio Sarri’s Blues.
Meanwhile, City duo Sterling and Silva, both 24, also make the shortlist for the Young Player of the Year award.
They are joined in that category by Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth winger David Brooks and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.