Ben Arfa, Di Maria and Diarra in Ibrahimovic slipstream

Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

PARIS: Nice forward Hatem Ben Arfa and Marseille midfield dynamo Lassana Diarra are on a shortlist of four alongside Parisian big guns Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel di Maria for the French player of the year award.

The award is announced May 8 and is voted upon by the quartet’s fellow Ligue 1 players.

After a serious slump in the first half of the season last year’s winner Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette failed to make the cut despite his 12 goals since January.

Winner in 2013 and 2014 Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Ligue 1’s top scorer with 32 goals and is top passer with 13 assists and looks to be hot favourite to pick up a third award in the final season of his PSG contract.

Angel di Maria has also run defences ragged but cannot boast the same statistics or wield the same authority as his Swedish teammate.

Playmaker Ben Arfa has been unstoppable with the ball at his feet and has led Nice to the brink of Champions League qualification in scintillating style and scored 17 Ligue 1 goals.

While Diarra’s performances have been the one constant in Marseille’s awful season, the former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid star is tipped to join arch rivals PSG in the summer.

The Player’s Union also elects a coach of the year with PSG handler Laurent Blanc in the running after winning the League and League Cup with a French Cup final to come.

Ben Arfa’s coach Claude Puel, who took Monaco to the 2004 Champions League finals, may well pip Blanc after a thrilling season at Nice.

Also on the list are early season form team Angers’ coach Stephane Moulin and Thierry Laurey who has worked wonders on a shoe-string budget at relegation threatened Corsican minnows Gazelec Ajaccio.



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