Salah v De Bruyne: Who Wins Prestigious Award?

By Martin Green20 March 2018
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Player Kevin De Bruyne

Mohamed Salah is now as low as 1/10 to win the Premiership Golden Boot race after putting Watford to the sword with four goals on Sunday. That moved him four clear of Spurs striker Harry Kane in the top scorer charts and he looks all but certain to finish top of the pile. Now punters are backing him to go one better and usurp Man City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in the battle to be named Premier League Player of the Year. Since his masterclass against the Hornets, around 80% of bets have been placed on Salah winning the accolade.

The odds on him have drifted into 6/5 with many Green Listed Bookmakers, although Sky Bet is offering 11/8 and Sports Winner has a market leading 8/5. Meanwhile, De Bruyne, the overwhelming favourite a few weeks ago has drifted out to 8/13 with Bet Victor, Betway, and Betfair. The third man in the list, Kane, is all the way out at 25/1 and he is injured, so it really is a two-horse race and it is a fascinating one. Both have strong claims for the honour.

De Bruyne has been the best player for the best team in the league as Man City have cruised to the title in soon to be record-breaking fashion. They have vanquished all their key rivals and De Bruyne has been at the heart of their play, conducting the orchestra like a virtuoso with superbly weighted passes, peerless vision, and awe-inspiring flair. Midfielders have not fared too well in this award over the years, but that has started to change and N’Golo Kante won it last season after driving Chelsea to the title.

But Salah is a far more typical sort of winner. He is quick, dynamic and exciting, a real match winner, and he has been banging in goals for fun. If this were basketball and we were seeking an MVP, a player that had been absolutely crucial for his team, the award would go to Salah, who has won an often-struggling Liverpool side a huge number of points singlehandedly this season. His campaign evokes that of previous winners like Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie, and Luis Suarez. They all claimed the award, despite not winning the title, because they lit up the league with their attacking prowess. Salah has been similarly prolific, and it is hugely impressive as he operates in a wide area. Manager Jurgen Klopp compared him to Lionel Messi after his four-goal haul against the Hornets, and that has further fuelled the hype surrounding him.

It now goes down to the final weeks of the season as the world waits to see what this superstar duo will do. If, as expected, Man City win the Premiership with plenty of games to go, Pep Guardiola may rest key stars like De Bruyne to preserve them for the Champions League. That could help Salah, as Liverpool are still jostling for position in the top four with the likes of Man Utd, Tottenham and Chelsea, so they need points and will be likely to field the Egyptian.

Man City are the last remaining English teams in the Champions League, and they have been drawn against one another in the quarter-finals. While this award is for Premiership Player of the Year, Champions League exploits could influence the vote, so whoever prevails in that contest could see their chances boosted. Man City are the favourites, but Liverpool are the only team to beat them in the league this season. They won 4-3 at Anfield, with Salah scoring what proved to be the decisive goal, and the Reds are in superb form, so they will fancy their chances of springing an upset, and the POTY race looks set to go right down to the wire.