Raheem Sterling was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year at Sunday night's award ceremony, after an incredible season for Manchester City where he has scored 17 goals and assisted another ten.
Whilst no one can take away from Sterling's achievements, the awards system does seem flawed in its rewarding of genuinely young, fresh talent. The Englishman picked up the award ahead of Bernardo Silva, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marcus Rashford, David Brooks and Declan Rice.
Rumours that Raheem Sterling has won PFA Young Player of the Year.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 25, 2019
Seems a bit strange that a 24 year old with 49 international caps can win it.
Anyway, congratulations to him and runner-up Glenn Murray.
With 224 Premier League appearances to his name, the Manchester City winger has more than double that of the next highest tally on the Young Player of the Year shortlist. Having broke through at such a young age, the 2018/19 season is the eighth year of top flight football for the 'youngster'.
Considering most players do not have this much Premier League experience by the time they are in their thirties, is it time to propose a change to this prestigious award? Perhaps the PFA could take a leaf out of the NBA's book, where they instead have 'Rookie of the Year' - an award given to players who had not picked up a single appearance in the league prior to the current season?
Following this method shines a light on players who have burst onto the scene and generated excitement around them, as opposed to those who had already been integral parts of their team's record-breaking Premier League season in the previous year.
With Rookie of the Year, anyone who is eligible for one season would be ineligible for the next. Yes, this would have ruled out all but one nominee on the 2018/19 PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist, but it would have been a more accurate appreciation of breakthrough talent from the season.
This format would reward quality players, who Premier League fans may not have been familiar with in the previous year. David Brooks for instance, who made the move to Bournemouth from Sheffield United in the summer, is the perfect example of this as he has picked up seven goals and five assists so far in his debut season.
The young Welshman could have been joined on a ROTY shortlist by the likes of Lucas Torreira of Arsenal, Ruben Neves of Wolves, James Maddison of Leicester and Felipe Anderson of West Ham - all of whom have adapted very well to life in the Premier League.
However, were such an award to exist for the 2018/19 season, it would be hard to argue against Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers. The striker has been an intrinsic figure in his side's season, picking up 13 goals and eight assists in the process. Wolves initially signed the Portuguese forward on loan, only to make the deal permanent later in the season for a fee of around £35m.
The best part about the ROTY award is that it is a genuine surprise. Few would have bet on Maddison and Brooks having the seasons they have had so far. With the YPOTY, you could make a pretty good guess that Alexander-Arnold, Rashford and Rice will all be shortlisted again next year.
Considering five of the previous seven PFA Young Player of the Year winners were also nominated for PFA Player of the Year, the time for change may be upon us. Transferring to a Rookie of the Year format would add genuine excitement and give the prestige that an individual award deserves.