Son Heung-min (32, Tottenham Hotspur) was denied his fifth career Premier League (PL) Player of the Month honor. Dominic Solanke (27, AFC Bournemouth) took home the honor.
“Solanke has won a historic EA Sports Player of the Month award,” the PL website said on Wednesday. He became the first player in Bournemouth’s history to be named PL Player of the Month after scoring six league goals in December last year.”
Solanke scored six league goals in December last year, the most in the PL. He is tied with Son Heung-min for third place in the top scorer’s race this season, behind Elling Holland (Manchester City) and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), who both have 14 goals.
Solanke scored in a 2-2 draw with high-flying Aston Villa, and then netted his first career hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in a 3-2 comeback win. He also found the back of the net against Manchester United and Fulham in 3-0 wins.
He also helped Bournemouth get back on track. With four wins, one draw, and one loss in six games in December, Bournemouth jumped to 12th place. Only three points separate them from 10th-place Chelsea. Considering Bournemouth have played one less game, a mid-table finish is well within reach.
After winning his first career award, Solanke said: “I’m delighted to win the PL December Player of the Month award. December was an incredible month with important wins and special moments, including my first PL hat-trick. I would like to thank my teammates, the club and the fans for their support. I hope I can keep up this form until the end of the season.”
Another favorite, Son Heung-min, had to swallow his disappointment, as his four goals and four assists in December earned him a spot on the PL Secretariat’s shortlist of eight players of the month. No other player had more offensive points in December than Son, so the award was well deserved.
Heung-min scored a goal and an assist in a 3-3 draw against Man City and followed that up with a goal and two assists in a 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle. He followed that up with a goal against Everton (2-1), an assist against Brighton (2-4), and a goal against Bournemouth (3-1).
For his stellar performances, Son was named to the December Team of the Month by soccer stats site Futscore.com, topped the PL’s Best 11 of the season by legends Alan Shearer, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, and was included in ESPN’s 2023 PL Team of the Year.
Naturally, the anticipation for the Player of the Month award grew. If Son had been named Player of the Month for December, he would have won his fifth career award, joining Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Salah, and closing in on Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo (six), Sergio Aguero, and Harry Kane (seven).
He also joined Salah as the most decorated active PL players. Heung-min was previously named Player of the Month in September 2016, April 2017, October 2020, and September 2023.
However, Son will have to wait for another chance as he lost the trophy to Solanke. Solanke likely earned the honor for leading bottom-of-the-table Bournemouth to the top scoring spot in December. Son is away at the Asian Football Confederation 2023 Qatar Asian Cup, so it’s likely that he won’t be able to claim his fifth Player of the Month award until March.