First of all, congratulations to Eden Hazard for a well deserved victory in the PFA Young Player of the Year (YPOTY). Of all the candidates, only the Liverpool pair of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling were serious challengers for the YPOTY and even then, unlike Hazard, Sturridge has a strong array of attackers helping him. As for Sterling, he has only really burst into life from December onwards, beforehand he was little more than a back up player lacking in confidence and focus.
However, at the age of 23 Eden Hazard has played 301 professionals matches for Lille and Chelsea, scoring 80 goals in the process. He has 42 caps for Belgium scoring 5 times. Furthermore, having been brought for £32 million and reportedly being one of the highest wage earners in the Premier League, was it really fair to class Eden Hazard as a young player?
Of course at the age of 23, Eden Hazard is a young player, but in the world of football the word 'young' takes on a bit of semantics. It is not so much an indication towards a player's age as it is to their experience in the game.
For example, who remembers the ever young, never aging Kevin Lisbie?
The other YPOTY candidates such as Aaron Ramsey, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson have also played well over 100 professional games in their short careers so far and have multiple international appearances to their names - Ramsey is even the captain of Wales!
Neither of those three are inexperienced and as such should not be nominated for such an award. The YPOTY award should be awarded to players who are making their breakthrough in football. It should serve to boost the reputations of players who still striving to make a name for themselves, not players like Eden Hazard or two times winner in 2005 and 2006 Wayne Rooney or Euro 2004 finalist Cristiano Ronaldo who were world renowned long before they won the YPOTY awards.
They would have not benefitted from winning the award; however, players like Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley have now attained national attention for their exploits this season due to their nominations. Likewise, unsung heroes such as Southampton's Calum Chambers and Nathaniel Clyne, as well as Crystal Palace's Joel Ward would have benefited far more from a nomination than the likes of Hazard.
What I propose is a change to the way a player can be elligble for the award.
In addition to being 23 or younger by the time the season starts, a player should;
1) Have less than two seasons worth of playing at the very top level of a division (less than 76 games played in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga etc).
2) Have less than 5 international caps
This way, a player being nominated for the award is guaranteed to be a player many would not have heard of, in the process raising their profile.