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Who is Lille's Player of the Season?

Missing out on the Champions League last season due to a last-second goal scored by Auxerre was a painful experience for Lille, but head coach Rudi Garcia managed to retain virtually the entire squad that came so close to cracking the top three in 2009-10.

Still playing their attractive brand of offensive football, the northern side are in pole position to pick up a somewhat surprising league title. With only three rounds of matches remaining, they boast an advantage at the top of the standings over defending champions Marseille and France’s most successful side of the 21st century, Lyon.

After a slow start to the campaign, in which draws were prevalent, Lille started to click through the gears during the autumn, scoring freely and picking up win after win to carry them to the summit of the standings by the end of November. Garcia’s men may have been aided by uncharacteristic slips from elsewhere, but their fluid brand of football certainly meant they deserved top spot at the Christmas break.

It was not until the latter part of the spring that Lille would start to stutter, seemingly hindered by the realisation that the title was near. After a three-game winless streak, Pierre-Alain Frau scored a last-minute winner away against OM that may prove to be the decisive moment of the campaign. If LOSC can overcome their nerves, they will be worthy champions.

Below are Goal.com's three nominees for Lille's player of the season in alphabetical order. We then cast our vote at the bottom before leaving it up to you, the readers, to have your say.

1. ADIL RAMI | Defender

Age: 25
Appearances: 43
Goals/Assists: 0/4
Cards:

7 0


Although the focus of Lille’s success has understandably fallen on the exciting attacking players in their ranks, this has been underpinned by a defence that has been somewhat undervalued. Rami is the natural leader of the back four, and is strong and committed at its heart.

In previous seasons, the France international has been guilty of losing concentration and hence conceding cheap goals, but he has found greater maturity this term, virtually eradicating such heart-stopping moments. When faced with Ligue 1’s best strikers, he has been a rock and deserves to test himself against more renowned forwards in La Liga next season, where he will play with Valencia.


2. EDEN HAZARD | Winger

Age: 20
Appearances:
50
Goals/Assists:
12/8
Cards:

2 0


One of the most talked about young players in Europe at present, and it’s little surprise to see so many big clubs chasing the talented Belgian after another strong campaign with Rudi Garcia’s side. Packed with flair, pace and creativity, his style of play has drawn comparisons with Lionel Messi, and though he’s not yet reached the heights of the Argentine, he would appear set for a big future.

After a difficult start to the season in which he struggled to find his top level, Hazard started to flourish in the lead-up to Christmas, and as his form improved, so too did that of his club. He continues to impress into the closing weeks of the campaign, with Tuesday’s performance against Saint-Etienne a particular highlight as he shouldered the offensive burden of his side superbly in the absence of Gervinho.


3. GERVINHO | Winger

Age: 23
Appearances: 46
Goals/Assists: 17/11
Cards:

3 1


Having signed a couple of summers ago from Le Mans, Gervinho has been transformed from a talented but erratic winger into an attacker who produces the goods when his side most require it. Aside from an aberration against Monaco, when he was dismissed early for a petulant kick, the 23-year-old has been permanently at the forefront of Lille's offensive play.

Whether it’s been creating or scoring goals, the Cote d’Ivoire international has been a real sensation on the flank, providing buckets of ammunition for Moussa Sow to feed from, as well as a direct running threat that causes anxiety in defenders. Gervinho is set to leave in the summer, and the club that signs him will surely be much better off for it.


GOAL.COM'S LILLE PLAYER OF THE SEASON
- Gervinho -
In five words:

Thrilling all-round attacking threat

Season highlight:

Crucial brace against local rivals Lens in round five, which gave les Dogues their first win of the season and set in motion a remarkable campaign.

 

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