Liverpool and Arsenal heroes snubbed among Player of the Year runners-up

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A number of impressive Liverpool and Arsenal stars were overlooked by journalists in the voting process to decide this season’s Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year, with only 14 players receiving first-placed votes overall. Erling Haaland was named as the recipient of the award on Friday morning, with the Manchester City striker having torn up the Premier League in only his first season on English shores following his move from Borussia Dortmund over the summer.

Haaland managed to win over 80 per cent of the vote, marking a record since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, with the towering Norwegian forward having scored 51 goals in 47 games for City in all competitions thus far. A total of 13 other players also received votes to win the award, although a handful of big names were snubbed by the 800-strong group of FWA members surveyed.

Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli was not chosen by anybody as their player of the season despite enjoying his best campaign with the Gunners since moving to north London from Ituano in the summer of 2019. The Brazilian winger has chipped in with 15 goals in the Premier League over the course of this season to date, although his impressive return was not enough to get himself into contention for the prestigious FWA award.

William Saliba was also overlooked in spite of his incredible form for Arsenal over the last nine months, with the Frenchman now widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s finest central defenders. Meanwhile, no first-placed votes were cast for Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who has emerged as one of their few shining lights as of late by saving the blushes of his team-mates on countless occasions since the beginning of the campaign.

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Bukayo Saka was revealed as the runner-up to Haaland despite receiving a considerably lower number of votes than his City rival, with Martin Odegaard coming home in third after taking the captain’s armband for Arsenal just in time for their surprise Premier League title charge. Kevin De Bruyne finished fourth on the list ahead of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who waas only good enough for fifth place.

The likes of Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Kieran Trippier, Mohamed Salah and James Maddison also received at least one vote for the FWA award, but the majority of the plaudits will rightly go to Haaland as he continues to bask in his own brilliance just weeks after setting a new record for the highest number of goals scored in a single Premier League campaign.

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“To win the Football Writers’ Award in my first season in English football is an honour,” he said. “I try every single day to be the best I can be, and to be recognised like this means a lot to me.

“I have loved my time at City so far. My teammates are incredible, and they provide me with the chances to score goals. I want to thank all of them, because I could not have won this award without them. I also owe so much to Pep [Guardiola] and the team behind the team here at City.

“Everybody has been so good to me since I joined and I have never worked with such top professionals. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It’s a real honour to have won this award. I am now focused on ensuring I finish the season as strongly as possible and helping City win trophies.”

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