NOT Erling Haaland? Manchester City teammates make surprise POTY choice
No one can deny that Erling Haaland has enjoyed an astonishing first season with Manchester City – but his teammates don't think he's nailed on to be the club's player of the year...
City's more or less unstoppable number nine has racked up 52 goals in all competitions this term – 36 of which have come in the Premier League, a new record, including four hat-tricks and five braces.
Clearly, the Norwegian hitman's colleagues have acknowledged his remarkable achievements (how could they not?) – but at least two of them, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez, reckon someone else deserves to be recognised as their side's standout performer in 2022/23.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Foden said: "There's a few contenders for this, isn't there?
"I think it's out of Erling and Nath [Nathan] Ake. He's [Ake] always one of the best trainers; looks after himself; professional.
"Yeah, it's just difficult to pick one. For me, we're going to have to just have it joint."
Fortunately, Mahrez had a solution to Foden's dilemma: give the award to "Nathan Haaland or Erling Ake" – simple!
For the good of defenders everywhere, it's probably not advisable to start working on Haaland hybrids, but Foden and Mahrez make an important point: City's success hasn't been entirely down to one man's outrageous goals output.
Pep Guardiola's side secured their third straight Premier League title thanks to Arsenal's defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday and will lift the trophy after Sunday's home clash with Chelsea.
And, while Haaland has found the net more times than three other teams in the division this term, Ake has contributed to the league's best defensive record: 31 goals conceded.
The Dutch international has made 25 appearances in the Premier League in 2022/23 – proving his versatility by operating at centre-back and left-back – with City keeping seven clean sheets in his 21 starts.