Another game, another important goal. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been in unreal form this season, and the 84th minute winner against Crystal Palace was his 37th goal of the season in all competition. He is well on course to beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally of 42 back in 2007/08, when the Portuguese won his first Balon D’Or award. Salah is unlikely to a favourite for that gong, such are the standards that Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are maintaining, but the Egyptian should undoubtedly win one prize – the PFA Player of the Year.
The award will be given later this month, and it is probably a two-way race between Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne at the moment. Tottenham’s Harry Kane would have probably been up for it, but it remains to be seen how long he stays out with his ankle injury.
The case for De Bruyne majorly revolves around Man City en route to winning the league in the most convincing fashion ever. Pep Guardiola’s need just one more win to seal the deal, and will probably break the record for most wins, most goals and most points by the time the campaign is through. The Belgian attacking midfielder has arguably been their best player, being involved in some way or the other in almost every goal they’ve scored. His passing, movement and goalscoring abilities have been the fulcrum around which Guardiola has been able to build his side. Watching De Bruyne has been an absolute pleasure, as he has weaved his magic like a silky smooth operator so confident in his own abilties.
The point is though, that he isn’t the biggest superstar in the team. Sergio Aguero, with his 21 league goals, continues to find the back of the net with regularity. David Silva has been like a player reborn this season, and has expertly found space time and time again to make things happen. There are also the two wingers Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, who have been close to unstoppable. So, while De Bruyne has been at the centre of everything, he has had some world-class comrades alongside in the field of battle.
Salah, on the other hand, has very much been Liverpool’s main man. He has scored in 21 different Premier League games this season, a record he currently shares with Robin van Persie and Ronaldo. It would be a brave man to bet against him breaking it. He has scored screamers, tap-ins, solo goals and everything in between. His goals have made a decisive difference on countless occasions, including against Chelsea, Spurs, Leicester City, Everton and of course, yesterday. The fact that this is his first full-season in England earns him even more brownie points.
In terms of their importance towards their respective teams, there is no doubt that Salah has been superior to De Bruyne this season. Without the 25 year-old’s goals, The Reds wouldn’t be where they are right now. The same could be said for De Bruyne, but it would also be safe to assume that even without him, Man City would be topping the league right now. Their immense quality is spread across every area of the pitch, something which we can’t say about Liverpool.
It doesn’t need to be emphasized, amidst all this, how sick the Chelsea fans must be feeling. Both these players, of course, were in their squad in the 2013/14 season, before Jose Mourinho adjudged them to be “not good enough”. One can only wonder “what if?”