Read Daniel Storey’s reviews for all 20 Premier League clubs here
Player of the season: Kevin De Bruyne
You could very easily make a case for either Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Son Heung-min, but De Bruyne takes it for the manner in which he led Manchester City to the title despite regularly playing through pain and fatigue.
The assists have dropped in number (although not through any flaw on De Bruyne’s part) but the goalscoring has increased – 15 in the league alone. As with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, we will only truly know how good De Bruyne is once he has gone.
Young player of the season: Bukayo Saka
I can’t have players aged 23 being considered for this award – that rules out Declan Rice, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount and Aaron Ramsdale from the official nominations.
Instead I would go for young Bukayo Saka, who overcame the bitter disappointment of a missed penalty at Euro 2020 to contribute 17 goals and assists in a variety of roles at Arsenal. He was both the top goalscorer and top assist provider of any Premier League player aged 22 or under and he is still just 20.
Most improved player of the season: Jarrod Bowen
Bowen did make significant contributions as West Ham finished sixth in 2020-21, but he has become one of the most complete attacking players in the country over the course of this season.
His 22 goal contributions, drifting in from the right wing or taking on a left-back, have reduced the onus on Michail Antonio to score regularly and surely taken Bowen into the next England senior squad for their Nations League matches in June.
Manager of the season: Thomas Frank
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will probably dominate the official vote, but Frank has become the first manager of a club promoted via the Championship playoffs to secure a position outside the bottom five in eight years.
He also did it without significant spending last summer and by squeezing the most out of every player in the squad. The signing of Christian Eriksen, using his history with him at Denmark age-group level, was a season-changing masterstroke.
Goalkeeper of the season: Jose Sa
The simplest award of the lot. According to Opta, Sa has saved his team (according to the number of goals conceded vs quality of chances faced) nine goals this season, seven more than any other goalkeeper. Sa’s distribution was also vital, making him an upgrade on Rui Patricio.
If he has occasionally played on the edge – more penalties conceded than any other goalkeeper – he has been the most crucial part of Wolves securing a top-half place.
Defender of the season: Joao Cancelo
This almost feels like cheating, given the manner in which Cancelo is instructed to step up into midfield when Manchester City dominate possession (which is almost always). But Cancelo is a superb one-on-one defender, has proven himself capable of playing on the left or right when injuries demand his versatility and has seven league assists this season. That’s as many as De Bruyne.
Midfielder of the season: Declan Rice
With De Bruyne taking the outright award, it seems only right to honour a defensive midfielder. Rice has been extraordinarily important to West Ham this season, growing from purely protecting his defence to being a progressive passer and ball carrier who has designs on creating chances as well as avoiding his team conceding them. He is a future England captain and he’s still only 23 years old.
Forward of the season: Mohamed Salah
With apologies to Son, who really has been superb throughout, we have to recognise at least one player from that brilliant Liverpool frontline. There have been plenty of players who have allowed speculation about their futures to cloud on-pitch performance, but not Salah.
If the 22 league goals weren’t enough, Salah has produced the best assist numbers of his career this season and scored nine times against Big Six opponents.
My Premier League team of the season
No goalkeeper in the league has stopped more goals, according to quality of chance, than Jose Sa. At full-back, Joao Cancelo is probably the most complete player in the league this season and Alexander-Arnold continues to amaze and win everything despite being 23, which should make you laugh.
Romero and Ruben Dias are vital for Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola respectively, while in midfield Declan Rice is a true leader for club and now country. The more attack-minded James Ward-Prowse and Kevin De Bruyne are best in class for free kicks and passing.
Up front, Bowen has enjoyed a true breakout season and Salah, though crowbarred slightly to find space for Bowen, is a dead cert thanks to his 35 goals and assists. Son Heung-min’s prolific form has been both ruthless on its own and important in allowing Harry Kane to drop deeper.
Goal of the season: Bernardo Silva vs Aston Villa
There have been acrobatic overhead kicks (Danny Ings, Callum Wilson) and dribbling, composed individual goals (Raul Jimenez, Salah), but for the combination of team move and finish, nothing beats Bernardo against Villa in December.
The intricate play on the edge of his own box by Riyad Mahrez, the pass down the line from Fernandinho, the cross from Gabriel Jesus and the incredibly difficult finish made to look so easy. Manchester City didn’t miss a beat.
Match of the season: Liverpool vs Man City
This new modern rivalry has already created phenomenal experience: both whenever they meet and in their relentless pursuit of one another in the Premier League. But surely the atmosphere, chaos and yet extraordinary quality of their fixture at Anfield in October, when City twice led and often dominated only to be hauled back by the irrepressible Mane and Salah was the season’s high point. It was an honour to be present to witness it.
Signing of the season: Christian Eriksen
It is a category unusually dominated by January signings, with honourable mentions to Luis Diaz and Dan Burn. But for the manner in which Eriksen has settled back into football after his life-changing collapse, being the creative influence for a promoted team as they consolidated in the Premier League, makes this pretty easy.
Eriksen has started nine league games for Brentford and they collected almost half their league points for the season in those matches.
Bargain buy of the season: Craig Dawson
A slight cheat given that Dawson had already been loaned to West Ham from Watford last season, but his £2m permanent deal proved to be an absolute steal when he was leading by example in both the Premier League and Europa League.
Dawson played more than 2,600 league minutes, was vital amid a defensive injury crisis and is now a fan favourite at the London Stadium. How much better defensively would Watford have been with him in their team?
The Score is Daniel Storey’s weekly verdict on all 20 Premier League teams’ performances. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Monday morning next season