Awarded each spring, the PFA Players' Player of the Year award is the biggest honour a player can achieve on a personal level during a Premier League season. On stats alone, Luis Suarez would be a heavy favourite for the award. Currently leading the league on goals and only two assists back from the top of the assists table, Suarez has the numbers both as an individual and as a team player to justify awarding him the accolade if the season were to end tomorrow.
It's somewhat disheartening, then, that the narrative around this year's Player of the Year award has essentially become a fait accomplit that Suarez will not win and, if that's the case, it won't be for footballing reasons.
In an interview after today's win against Tottenham, Steven Gerrard expressed some frustration at the thought of Suarez ending the season without any honours.
Steven Gerrard: "If Suarez doesn't win an award this season he'll be the best player ever not to win one." #LFC— Liverpool FC(@LFC) March 10, 2013
But nothing is straightforward with Luis Suarez and the Player of the Year award is determined by his friends and opponents on the pitch, not the numbers on his stats page. Suarez's unique ability to polarize everyone with whom he comes into contact is unlikely to help his cause very much outside the L4 postcode, even if it shouldn't be a consideration when it comes to casting a vote.
This isn't to discount the accomplishments this season of the other front runners, Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale. United and Spurs fans can make their own cases as to why their star players should win the award this year, but for Suarez to be counted out before the season is finished due to the dislike many have for him is disappointing.
The irony is that aside from his admission of guilt regarding his dive against Stoke in October, Suarez's behaviour this season has improved significantly; it's the indelible mark of previous season's transgressions that will cost him the award, not anything he's done this year.
The Golden Boot is the one award Suarez can still win on his own, free from anyone else's judgement about his playing. All that matters are numbers and if Suarez can maintain – or even improve – his form in the next few matches while votes are still being cast, he'll be in an excellent position to prevent himself from being the best player to not win an award this season.