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PFA Player of the Year: The Case for Mo Salah

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By Mike Banks.

Kevin de Bruyne and Mo Salah are the two frontrunners for the PFA Player of the Year going this season, and understandably so. Both players have been in sensational form. Kevin de Bruyne has been the standout performer for the swashbuckling champions-elect Manchester City, while Mo Salah is arguably the most in-form wide forward in European football.

The likelihood is that de Bruyne will win the award, but I want to make the case for Mo Salah.

When he was signed by Liverpool last summer, few would have expected him to have the impact that he has had. The stats make for handsome reading for the Egyptian. He has scored 24 goals in just 28 Premier League games and 32 goals in all competitions. This includes goals against every other team in the Premier League’s top 6 this season, bar Manchester United – and he has the chance to change this when Liverpool play Manchester United on Saturday. In fact, including United, Salah has only failed to score against 4 of the Premier League sides he has faced this season – Brighton, Swansea City and Crystal Palace being the other three.

In the 2007/08 season, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals in all competitions for Manchester United – 31 of these coming in the Premier League. Salah is on course to match and possibly exceed these numbers with 9 Premier League games still to be played.

He has already scored more goals in a season for Liverpool than Luis Suarez, Michael Owen and Daniel Sturridge and he is only one goal behind Fernando Torres’ best tally for the Reds. What is notable about this is that these players are all out-and-out center forwards, Mo Salah is not. He has also provided a respectable 8 assists in the league, a number bettered by only 4 other players, meaning he has been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player this season – 32.

Mo Salah celebrates opening the scoring against Spurs at Anfield (Source: Liverpool FC)

His performances back up these stats. This isn’t a player who is productive, but offers very little else to his team. He is a tireless runner, who is willing to do the dirty work whenever required.

Whether it’s slaloming past three defenders and scoring, a routine one-on-one finish, or an effort from 25-yards out, Salah appears capable of scoring virtually every goal possible. He has performed to such a level, that his very presence now strikes fear into the hearts of defenders.

His detractors will point to the fact that he has missed more big chances than any other player in the Premier League this season (19), but even the very best goal-scorers can be profligate at times. Harry Kane, who is already regarded as one of the finest finishers of this generation, has missed 16 big chances in the Premier League this season, while players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have been criticised for occasionally being wasteful in front of goal.

His detractors might also highlight his supposed overreliance on pace, but this has been overstated. Teams often set-up against Liverpool with a low-block, but Salah’s incredible movement and goal-scoring instincts mean that he has regularly scored against these sides.

Salah has transformed himself from a Chelsea ‘flop’ to a superstar and you get the feeling that there is more to come from the Egyptian King.

 

Mike is a Politics PhD student and takes a keen interest in social issues, all things British politics and Liverpool FC. He is also a born-again Christian, and one of his favourite bible verses is Matthew 6:33.

Twitter: @mxkes_

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