Former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham has explained in The Independent why Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and Liverpool attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho should not have been nominated for the Professional Footballers' Association Players' Young Player of the Year award.
Lukaku, who is 22 years of age and is a Belgium international, is in the running for the prestigious award, and so is 23-year-old Brazil international Coutinho.
Tottenham Hotspur duo Dele Alli and Harry Kane, Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley are the other nominees.
“I was surprised to see the PFA Young Player of the Year nominations including Philippe Coutinho and Romelu Lukaku,” Higginbotham wrote in The Independent. “Those are two excellent players who have had excellent seasons for their clubs but why they are nominated for a young player award I do not know.
“Coutinho is 23 years old, enjoying his fourth Premier League season and before he played for Inter and Espanyol. He is not inexperienced. Lukaku is 22 but is also completing his fourth season as a Premier League regular. He has almost 150 Premier League appearances already.”
“I believe that the upper age limit for the award should be 20 or 21, to make sure we are picking players still enjoying their first taste of Premier League football,” added Higginbotham, who now works as a football pundit. “Players like Anthony Martial should be on the shortlist, but for me the winner would still be Dele Alli.”
Perhaps Higginbotham is right about making the upper age limit to 20 or 21, but just because a young player has played a lot of Premier League football should not prevent him from being nominated.
After all, if someone at the age of 22 is in his fourth season as a Premier League regular, then it shows just how good he is.
Lukaku has been superb for Everton so far this season, and he deserves to be in the list, just like fellow 22-year-old Kane.