Stats Zone Premier League Young Player of the Year

And the Premier League's best youngster is...

Up next in the inaugural Stats Zone Awards, the big trophies come out. Here's the brightest young star in the firmament...

Stats Zone Premier League Young Player of the Year:
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)

While the PFA's Young Player of the Year award is open to anyone 23 or under at the start of the season, we've been a bit stricter and lowered our age limit to 21. If you're good enough, you're old enough - and by 23 you're no longer a young man in this game. Ask Pato.

Although there were a few very strong contenders -“ David De Gea was second only to Stats Zone Goalkeeper of the Year Petr Cech in terms of save percentage (76%), and Eden Hazard's 11 assists were only bettered by clubmate Juan Mata's 12 - the stats point to one clear winner.

Yet the man in question arrived in the Premier League to relatively little fanfare. Arriving at Aston Villa at the close of last summer's transfer window, Christian Benteke shared joint billing with Paul Lambert's other deadline day signing, Crewe midfielder Ashley Westwood.

BACK OF THE NET Christian Benteke: "I've never heard of me either"

In the weeks that followed, television pundits and Twitter experts questioned how Lambert could possibly marginalise Darren Bent in order to accommodate the burly Belgian. Yet Benteke quickly became his new club'™s key man and undoubted star.

Aston Villa didn'™t win any of the four Premier League games in which Benteke didn'™t feature, which is perhaps not unconnected to the fact he scored or assisted 49% of his club's league goals over the course of the season: no other player in the division made as big a contribution to their team. In fact, he scored 40% of Villa's goals -“ again, a higher rate than any player in the league.

Benteke has scored more Premier League goals in the year 2013 than any other player (14), and his end-of-season tally of 19 goals for 2012/13 represents the best showing of any Aston Villa player in the Premier League era.

He won a whopping 269 aerial duels, created 53 chances for teammates and in netting every 128.3 minutes he was on the pitch, scored more regularly than Luis Suarez or Gareth Bale.

Like Suarez and Bale, Benteke is now subject to interest from clubs higher up football's food chain. Should Villa wish to delay cashing in on the prized asset, they may have to unearth a couple more gems to ease the burden on his shoulders in 2013/14.

Key Stats: Aston Villa went into late April's crucial relegation six-pointer against Sunderland worried they may be cut adrift; instead, Benteke wrought havoc on the visiting defence in a 6-1 demolition. The big Belgian scored a hat-trick from 4 shots, but he also won 9 out of 15 aerial duels and successfully received 44 passes as the focal point of Villa's attack.    

Finally: Stats Zone Premier League Player of the Year