Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez have been stealing most of the Premier League headlines so far this season, but a third striker has now laid claim to the title of FTBpro PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. Take a bow Alvaro Negredo.
Manchester City fans probably feared the worst when leading scorer Aguero was sidelined with a calf injury mid-way through last month, but they need not have worried because Negredo has stepped up to the plate in fine style.
So much so that fans have voted him FTBpro PFA Player of the Month for December having helped the club maintain their pursuit for four titles with a series of impressive line-leading performances – not to mention three goals – during last month.
Negredo has continued his excellent form in January and claimed his second Manchester City hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of West Ham in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi final, taking his goal tally for the season in all competitions to 18.
City won eight and drew one of their nine games during a busy December schedule, and Negredo more than played his part. He was on target in the 3-0 win over Swansea at the start of the month, and followed this up with another strike in the emphatic 6-3 humbling of Arsenal.
Liverpool also felt the full force of the in-form City striker who has been ably assisted by the recalled Edin Dzeko, another fans’ player of the month contender, who took his club tally to 50 in the recent 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace.
The two combined lethally to put West Ham to the sword, prompting manager Manuel Pellegrini to say: “Alvaro had a good match not only because he scored three goals but also because he was the link with the midfield. It was the same thing for Edin Dzeko.
"They were not playing very well together before because they were not used to it - but the more matches they play, the better they are." All of which begs the question: will Sergio Aguero get his starting place back when he returns from injury later this month?
Spanish international Negredo, who scored 102 goals in 209 games in La Liga before moving to City from Sevilla for a reported fee of £16.4m in the summer, is known as ‘The Beast’ for good reason. His powerful running and immaculate hold-up play make him a constant menace for any defender.
Negredo has grown in stature as the season has gone on, and boss Pellegrini adds: “I always thought he was the player this team needed. I knew him very well from the nine years I was in Spain, so when he arrived here I was absolutely sure he was the striker we needed."
The 28-year-old Negredo believes he is playing the best football of his career – and has vowed to get even better! "I score a lot of goals and hopefully I can make some assists. Hopefully I can continue like this for the rest of my career. The only goal is to grow, to improve as a player and become better."