With the Premier League now at its business end, the PFA have shortlisted six candidates for the Player of the Year award.

It’s that time of the year when the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) nominate six Premier League players for their outstanding performances throughout the season to compete for the Player of the Year award.

Last season, Leicester’s wonderful run towards the Premier League crown saw Algerian wing wizard Riyad Mahrez become the first Foxes player in history to win the elusive individual honour.

This time around, the defending champions have faltered to become a mid-table team, and none of their players will compete for the PFA Player of the Year. However, one of their former stars N’Golo Kante has made it into the top six, courtesy of his unbelievable performances for Chelsea.

Joining him on the list are fellow teammate Eden Hazard, Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Premier League’s leading goal scorer Romelu Lukaku, Arsenal’s dynamic attacking sensation Alexis Sanchez and Tottenham Hotspur talisman Harry Kane.

The Hard Tackle takes a look at the season that has been and the chances of each player to win the honour:

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

A vital cog in the Chelsea engine, N’Golo Kante has every right to be in with a shout for winning the PFA Player of the Year this season. After going from being a relatively unearthed gem to lifting the league in his debut campaign in England with Leicester, the Frenchman has enjoyed the best 20 months of his career.

His tireless performances at the heart of the Foxes midfield saw him named in the Euro 2016 squad in France, and that was all he needed to take his game to the next level. His impressive showings there saw him attract the interest of several clubs, and he eventually ended up at Chelsea.

Often criticised for its one-season wonders, the Premier League feared that Kante would be put in the same bracket. The expectations were increasingly higher as he was purchased for a relatively hefty fee of £30 million.

Without batting an eyelid, Kante settled into the Chelsea midfield and became one of manager Antonio Conte’s go to men. Playing alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield, the Frenchman did his job of breaking up attacks, winning the ball back and playing the short passes to his teammates with utmost ease.

Rarely did Kante show a sign of tiredness and was jubilant from start to end, putting in an exceptional shift for his team, weak in and weak out. This stat by Squawka shows just how important he has been to Chelsea’s league position:

Chances to win: 40%

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

The second Blues player on this list is Belgian attacker Eden Hazard. After a tumultuous 2015/16 campaign, Eden Hazard picked up his socks in the European Championships with a solid performance for Belgium, and has continued his run in the Premier League.

He has been prolific in front of goal this season, scoring 14 goals and providing five assists in 29 league matches for Chelsea. His strikes have been far from straightforward, and his finish against Arsenal was arguably the pick of the bunch.

Hazard has been deployed predominantly on the left flank, but has also operated centrally during the absence of Diego Costa. His fine showings in front of goal have seen him attract interest from Real Madrid, but he seems to be committed to the London outfit.

Chances to win: 30%

Romelu Lukaku – Everton

The Everton striker is arguably having the season of his life as he is leading the goal-scoring charts in the league. With 23 goals he sits atop the Golden Boot standings, and looks to run away with the honour come the end of the season.

Compared to the big six, playing for a side like Everton makes scoring goals a tad harder as the quality of players in and around you are, with all due respect, not world class. Yet, the Belgian has defied odds and has kept his head held up high and has been scoring a number of goals.

However, he has the tendency to go missing in the bigger games, and often faces lapses in form. He has gone on a couple of lengthy runs without finding the back of the net this season, which makes him a rank outsider to win the award.

Yet, as he is still topping the goal-scoring charts, he is our third favourite to win.

Chances to win: 15%

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United

After two seasons under Louis van Gaal, Manchester United had been accustomed to playing a patient and possession brand of football. This eventually saw the goals dry out, and it was time for a change when Jose Mourinho took over the reins in the summer.

The Portuguese was linked with bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic all summer, and the deal finally came to fruition. It took little time for the Swede to settle in as he scored in his first competitive appearance – the Community Shield against Leicester.

Even in his first Premier League match, he scored a wonderful goal from long range against Bournemouth, and the sky has been the limit for him ever since. While his work-rate has been a tad questionable, his end product has been second to none.

Even though it is a huge accomplishment for a 35-year-old to deliver at the top level, Ibrahimovic hasn’t been the best performer in the league on a consistent basis, and is unlikely to even make it into the top two.

Chances to win: 5%

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

The Chilean began the season as the focal point of Arsenal’s attack, and has been Arsene Wenger’s lead strike option. Despite the fitness of Olivier Giroud, Sanchez has operated as a number nine.

Last season, he struggled slightly playing as a striker, but this time around, he has taken the role well, and is still in the hunt for the Golden Boot. He is also one of the key reasons why Arsenal are still in the hunt for the top four.

Chances to win: 5%

Harry Kane

The Tottenham Hotspur forward is perhaps the least favourite to win the award. Harry Kane has been one of Spurs’ in form players this term, but hasn’t had any noteworthy showings against the bigger clubs.

He also missed out on several games due to injury, and is now expected to return to the fold when Spurs take on Bournemouth. However, unless he puts in a run of miraculous performances, he is unlikely to win it.

Chances to win: 5%

THT Verdict

N’Golo Kante

It is a close battle between the two Chelsea players, but solely on the basis of consistency, Kante is the outright winner. He has arguably not had a single bad game this season, and has guided Chelsea to first place on the table. He is set to win his second consecutive Premier League title, and will be itching to get his hands on the PFA Player of the Year award.

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