Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Glenn Hoddle has seemingly swayed against popular choice as he names his three top players of 2014.
Most observers would pick the obvious names – Eden Hazard, David Silva, Yaya Toure or even Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey given his influence in helping the Gunners land the FA Cup in May.
However, Hoddle has decided to leave out the Premier League’s expensive names and focus on the contributions his three players have provided their respective clubs.
Not really a great surprise, but the Liverpool youngster makes the list after establishing himself as not only a first-team regular but arguably the Reds’ most potent player on current form.
He has added goals, assists and a lot of excitement over the past 12 months – reportedly attracting the attentions of Real Madrid and winning the praises of Hoddle.
“No one has grown more as a player in the last 12 months than Sterling,” Hoddle wrote in the Daily Mail.
“This time last year he had just broken into the Liverpool team and now, at 20, he is one of the best young players in the world. And if his form isn’t quite what it was, that’s only to be expected from a developing talent."
Mr Dependable – Chelsea’s skipper is now 34 but he is certainly not showing his age, playing every match for the Blues this season and performing to the top level.
Despite not being able to get his hands on any trophies throughout 2014, with the way things are going at Stamford Bridge it would take a brave man to bet that it will be a similar tale for Terry come May 2015.
“He’s as solid as he was 10 years ago. When analysing on TV, nobody says, ‘He’s short for pace there’ or ‘He turned a bit slowly here,’ Hoddle added.
“There’s no sign of frailties and there’s not a better defender in the country. Terry with Gary Cahill would have been fabulous at the World Cup, and it would be now.”
The former England winger has now been rediscovered in a more central role behind the front two, excelling for Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United side.
The Hammers are having a terrific campaign this season, and keeping Downing fit could be key as the East Londoners bid to rock the boat and finish in the top four next May.
“He looked as though his career might ebb away, having left Liverpool with a big move not having worked out. But credit to Sam Allardyce, who has had him playing off the front in many games and seen him rejuvenated. Now the challenge is to sustain that and earn an England place,” Hoddle concluded.