Liverpool: Salah can consider himself lucky to beat De Bruyne for POTY
Mo Salah emerges victorious in the Premier League’s race for individual glory as Manchester City players bolster the Team of the Year.
Mohamed Salah capped his incredible return to the Premier League by winning the PFA’s Player of the Year award.
In what has been arguably a two-horse race since the turn of the year, Salah’s achievements have seen him take the crown ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
Despite the eventual limited number of realistic contenders, there’s no denying Salah – and De Bruyne – have been the cream that has risen to the top of a field that faded out of contention without much of a whimper.
Salah saw off a list that also included De Bruyne’s team mates Leroy Sane and David Silva, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester United’s David de Gea, as he became only the second-ever African to win the award.
A point to prove
Although there was a certain amount of inevitably surrounding the destination of this season’s trophy, Salah’s impact at Anfield has been remarkable.
After having a rather torrid time at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, where his time and chances were limited, the Egyptian has returned to England with a bang.
There was an element of sheer self-belief in his words after receiving his award, almost as though he knew back in August that this would happen.
Salah openly said he wasn’t given his chance at Chelsea, and that he knew he would come back and ‘show everyone his football’, vowing to leave and come back a new player, a new man. And he’s done just that.
Credit has to be given to the decision makers at Liverpool, too, for taking what was an eyebrow-raising ‘punt’ on Salah after his torrid time at Stamford Bridge; players are seldom given another chance in a league which – perhaps too often – chews them up at the first sign of failure.
Salah, alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, has spearheaded a ruthless Liverpool attack that has combined for 80 Premier League goals, of which Salah alone has an astonishing 31.
After Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool to join Barcelona in January, many questioned whether Jurgen Klopp’s team could keep up their attacking threat without their talisman making them tick.
Salah answered the call and has filled the void so well you have to question if there ever was one.
Liverpool’s season is far from finished, and with the small matter of European glory just on the horizon, fans will hope that Salah has enough left in the tank to see them across the line.
De Bruyne unlucky?
Salah’s closest rival for the award, Kevin De Bruyne, will have wondered what else he could have done to have been given it.
After playing the star role in a Manchester City team that dismantled opposition for the vast majority of the season, the Belgian would always be a serious contender.
His numbers in the goal column may be comparatively lower than Salah’s, but the influence and stranglehold that De Bruyne has had on a huge number of games for his club this season cannot be ignored.
De Bruyne leads the league in assists, having racked up 17 but there is so much more to the ex-Chelsea man’s game for which numbers can do no justice.
Vision, technique, creativity and awareness of such a level is always admired, and he would have been a heavy favourite had it not been for Salah’s imperious form in front of goal.
Leroy Sane leads young guns
De Bruyne’s team mate Leroy Sane was honoured with this season’s PFA Young Player of the Year award.
After struggling to make any real impact during his inaugural season, the German is just one of a handful of players who have been rejuvenated during manager Pep Guardiola’s second campaign at the club.
After scoring only five times last term, Sane has played his part in a scintillating City attack, scoring nine times and notching 12 assists, almost doubling his tally in both categories.
Sane saw off competition from favourite Harry Kane, while team mates Raheem Sterling and Ederson Moraes were also in contention alongside Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon.
Manchester City dominate PFA Team of the Year
After romping to the league title with a handful of games to spare, it was no surprise to see multiple names from the blue half of Manchester in this season’s Team of the Year.
The aforementioned De Bruyne was joined by Sergio Aguero, Kyle Walker, David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi.
Tottenham were the only other side to have multiple representatives in the XI as Christian Eriksen was named alongside centre-half Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane.
Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, whose inclusion was perhaps the biggest surprise, saw off competition from Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson who had a fine second half of the season.
David de Gea was named as the sides’ goalkeeper after another tremendous season in goal at Old Trafford, while Mo Salah rounded off the selection.
De Gea, Walker, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Alonso, De Bruyne, Eriksen, D. Silva, Salah, Kane, Aguero.
Do you agree with the Team of the Year? Should Salah have won the PFA Player of the Year award? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.