Ferdinand thinks so, but has Nasri been the player of the season so far?

The Arsenal man has won acclaim – but no awards yet. Sam Wallace considers other contenders for the game's annual prizes

If Samir Nasri has, in Rio Ferdinand's words, "maybe been player of the season so far" then who is the competition? The England captain was commenting via Twitter in the aftermath of a standing ovation for Nasri at Elland Road on Wednesday night that included some of the Leeds United fans.

This year, the winners of both main awards are hard to call. The players vote for the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year award around now on the basis of performances in the previous calendar year and it can produce unusual results.

Remarkably, this year it is hard to see any Chelsea player triumphing, although they won the Double in 2010. The poor performance of the England team at the World Cup in the summer is also bound to have had an effect on voting.

The Football Writers' Association vote is around April/May and is based more upon performances in the current season. But often it still gets decided before the completion of the big competitions. All we can say for sure is that last season's double-award winner Wayne Rooney will not need to dust off the dinner jacket this time.

Samir Nasri, Arsenal

The prime example of the thinking footballer, Nasri is predominantly right-footed and likes to come in from the left wing on his stronger foot. But he has showed this season especially that he can play anywhere in that line of three in Arsène Wenger's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

His 14 goals in 28 appearances say a lot about his superb finishing and his confidence to dribble in the opponents' penalty area to make room for a shot. Wenger also uses him as a playmaker in the absence of Cesc Fabregas.

The big question is: can Nasri justifiably win a player of the year award if Arsenal again look like winning nothing? His supporters will point to the example of Rooney who won both awards last season despite Manchester United finishing the season without a cup.

The PFA award tends to favour players who win trophies. You have to go back to Spurs' David Ginola in 1999 for a PFA winner who had not won any of the major prizes. This season could prove different because of the open nature of the title race but a trophy – even the Carling Cup – would help Nasri's cause.

Carlos Tevez, Manchester City

Can you lose votes by making a major mid-season transfer request? It will be interesting to see if that affects Tevez's standing in the eyes of his fellow professionals when the PFA votes are counted. Although they do not like to say so in public, footballers can be very critical in private of team-mates who cause problems for their clubs.

That aside, Tevez has been more crucial to Manchester City than any other player, although Vincent Kompany has run him close. Energetic, enthusiastic and with 14 goals in 20 league appearances, we have seen the best of Tevez this season. His goal against Leicester City in the FA Cup on Tuesday was a classic example of his ability to make something from nothing.

Like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, Tevez has proved that he can carry City when they have struggled for goals. That appeals to voters in both awards. So too does his consistency and commitment. But even looking past those attributes, it is the sourness associated with Tevez, that occasional lack of joy, that conflicts with the way he plays the game which might count against him

Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United

This time last year, having played one more game (22) than they have this time, Manchester United had already lost five Premier League matches. This season, Rooney has still not hit form and Dimitar Berbatov blows hot and cold. This season it is the defensive performances that stand out, and Vidic and Ferdinand in particular.

Both benefit from each other's presence and they complement each other well. Ferdinand has been excellent but Vidic just edges it. He is the most aggressive centre-half in the league and his performance on Sunday against Peter Crouch, who embarrasses a lot of famous defenders, demonstrated that on his day, Vidic can rescue games for United.

Defenders are not popular winners of the PFA award. Before John Terry won it in 2005 you had to go back to 1993 for the previous defender to win, Paul McGrath. That old football adage that it is "easier to destroy than create" is also likely to figure in the minds of voters. To which Vidic could justifiably answer "You try marking Fernando Torres". More likely to be a winner if the vote is split elsewhere.

Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur

A racing certainty for the PFA's Young Player of the Year award, he could also be the third player after Andy Gray and Cristiano Ronaldo to win both in one season. Certainly if the PFA award is voted on purely on performances in the calendar year of 2010 it would be hard to see past Bale.

What will count against him is the fact that Spurs won nothing in that year, although it could be argued that Champions League qualification is a good equivalent. Bale has certainly been the most exciting player of 2010, especially his two performances against Internazionale.

While the PFA award is supposed to be based on the year, there is a tendency to take into account previous seasons and consistency over a period of time – the victory of Ryan Giggs in 2009 was a classic example of that. Seeing as Bale has compressed the vast majority of his career highlights into 2010 that might count against him in the minds of some of his fellow professionals.

Nevertheless he is fast, direct, skilful, a great crosser of the ball and a goalscorer as well. If this is not to be his year then Bale will surely be picking up one or both of the awards before long.

Rafael van der Vaart, Tottenham Hotspur

He has the kind of profile that wins the FWA award – a charismatic foreign footballer without a particularly high-profile arrival but who subsequently went on to outstrip all expectations. Think Robert Pires, a winner in 2002. As for the PFA award, Van der Vaart has only been in the English game since August, although he is the kind of player that his fellow professionals appreciate.

Not blessed with a great deal of pace or a particularly imposing physique, Van der Vaart has to get by with his brilliant touch and a vision and awareness that puts him in the right place at the right time. He brings a lot of experience to a relatively young team.

There are still many in the Netherlands who believe that if Bert van Marwijk had started with Van der Vaart against Spain in the World Cup final instead of one of either Mark van Bommel or Nigel de Jong then it might have been a different story.

For Spurs the goals have made a huge difference – 11 in all competitions. He is the first-choice striker/playmaker in arguably the most exciting team in the league. That says a lot.

Leighton Baines, Everton

Not everyone's obvious choice but one of the unsung heroes of this season and a good performer at the end of the previous one. The relatively low profile of his club – and his position as a defender – means that he is not likely to trouble the bookmakers.

Baines is quick, attacking, an excellent crosser of the ball and he has chipped in with three goals as well this season. Not bad for a left-back. Unfortunately he is currently remembered for being the player that Fabio Capello had reservations about taking to the World Cup finals because Baines himself had appeared to suggest he would be homesick. That and a poor performance against Mexico in one of the warm-up games for the tournament.

Naturally shy, Baines has at last this month addressed the comments he made in the summer. He says he never intended to suggest he did not want go to South Africa and was misconstrued. How good is he? Bayern Munich wanted to sign him this month but he turned them down. He might just be waiting to see what happens if Patrice Evra leaves Manchester United this summer.

David Vaughan, Blackpool

Let's be honest: the kind of player who, realistically, never wins the big awards. But that might not prevent a few of Vaughan's fellow professionals who have been on the losing side to Blackpool – or the reporters who have marvelled at their performances – from voting for the Wales international.

As far as Blackpool are concerned, the plaudits have mostly been for Vaughan's central-midfield partner Charlie Adam but those who watch the team a lot say that Vaughan has been just as crucial to the side. A good, all-round footballer his second goal of the season was an impressive hit from distance against West Bromwich Albion.

Like the rest of the Blackpool side there is plenty of energy about Vaughan's game and you get the feeling he has been waiting for this moment his whole career. At 27 he had seven years at Crewe Alexandra and one in the second tier of Spanish football with Real Sociedad, signed by Chris Coleman.

His contract is up in June and there are plenty of clubs in the Premier League who will regard him as one of the most attractive free transfers of the summer.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?