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Harry Kane

Salah, Kane and de Bruyne battle for Player of the Year Award

Three players can reasonably lay claim to winning the award. Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, and Tottenham’s Harry Kane. Each player presents a compelling argument.

Kane has been a model of consistency for Tottenham over the past four seasons. Salah has transformed from a bust at Chelsea to Lionel Messi comparisons. And De Bruyne, despite playing in a deeper position, has both statistics and team success to boot.

All three of these players have enjoyed tremendous seasons, and all three of their clubs have benefited as a result. However, with the season entering its final stretch, which player has the edge for this prestigious award?

No Bad Choices

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Salah has scored 38 goals in all competitions this season. He has scored 29 goals in the Premier League and more than any player in England. His 29 league goals are first in the Premier League and first in Europe’s top five leagues. Three ahead of his closest competition (Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and Lazio’s Ciro Immobile). Salah, quite remarkably, is also tied for third in the Premier League in assists, tallying nine helpers this season. In total, Salah has contributed to 38 of Liverpool’s 75 league goals.

That’s a remarkable output considering he plays with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Furthermore, according to Squawka, Salah has racked up 46 key passes and created 55 chances this season. His performance score on Squawka is top among these three individuals by comparison (1,318.06). His average rating on is 7.75/10, good for fourth overall in the Premier League.

Harry Kane, Tottenham 
Kane has 24 goals, which is good for second in the Premier League. He also has two assists, although his primary job for Tottenham is to score. He’s led the league in goals each of the last two seasons. His success is even more impressive given its sustained nature. Kane, overall, has 26 goal contributions for Spurs out of their 62 goals, a 42% contribution rate.

Notably, Harry Kane’s supporting cast isn’t as strong as his competitors. Salah is flanked by Mane, Firmino, and was aided by Philippe Coutinho for the first half of the season. De Bruyne, as we’ll get to later, has an ungodly amount of weapons at his disposal. Therefore, Kane’s success is all the more impressive. Given he is Spurs’ main goal threat on every night. Whereas De Bruyne and Salah can choose to defer on certain occasions.

Kane, however, has the lowest total performance score and average who scored rating out of the three. His team is also lowest on the table. It is fair to say that despite Kane’s terrific success, he is definitely third in the race. His recent injury will certainly not help his cause (even if he did come back two months ahead of schedule).

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
De Bruyne’s statistical success is more defined by his teammates than Salah or Kane. The Belgian has a league high 15 assists, to go along with 7 goals. Those 7 goals, however, are on only 77 shots. Giving him a 60% shot accuracy, which is higher than Kane (56%), and just behind Salah (62%).

De Bruyne’s success is mainly defined on his passing. The 15 assists are nice, but he is head and shoulders above his competitors in two areas. Key passes (82) and chances created (97). His 84% pass completion is loads better than Salah and Kane. This is impressive considering he has completed more passes (1,941) than Salah and Kane combined (by around 800).

De Bruyne also has seen his teammates enjoy success, which in large part comes down to his creative prowess. Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling are both in the top ten for goals in the league, with 21 and 16 respectively. Additionally, David Siva and Leroy Sane are tied for second in the league with 11 assists each. No other team has any players with double digit assists other than Manchester City, which has all three. De Bruyne’s creativity has led to sustained success from his teammates. As a result, City are a win away from the title. De Bruyne’s average rating is 7.91 which is tops in the Premier League. His Squawka performance score is second amongst these three players. However, his possession score (how effective he is in possession) is 304.18. By comparison, both Kane and Salah have negative possession scores.

Team Success

This one is fairly straightforward. City are in first by a mile and will win the title. Possibly within the next seven days. They have lost just once all year, and have racked up an absurd 27 wins in 31 games. They are on course to be one of the best Premier League teams ever. If you value the argument that the Player of the Year is, simply, the best player on the best team, than De Bruyne comes out ahead.

However, they have a stacked team that only got better this offseason. They have one of the greatest managers ever in Pep Guardiola. Additionally, they have a seemingly endless amount of cash to spend on new players.

On the other hand, Liverpool have thrived despite having a weaker squad and a shaky defense. They’ve arguably been better after the loss of Coutinho. Liverpool are in third, two points behind United and four points ahead of Spurs for fourth. The Reds will qualify for the Champions League. Notably, Liverpool have progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. An unexpected accomplishment coming into the season.

Spurs are comfortably in fourth, which is impressive considering preseason expectations. Many expected them to finish fifth, behind City, United, Liverpool, and Chelsea. Their impressive win against Chelsea on the weekend all but sealed a top four spot. Without Harry Kane — who said they had a weaker supporting cast? (I stand by it).

Essentially, City have the best team success, but Liverpool and Spurs have exceeded expectations. They have Salah and Kane to thank for their success.

Final Verdict

It’s a tough call between De Bruyne and Salah, but ultimately I have to give it to the Belgian. If City were a normal title winner, Salah would have to be considered. With this in mind, what the Blues are doing is near unprecedented. It is undeniable that De Bruyne has been the catalyzing factor in City’s rampage. His 15 assists are impossible to ignore as well.

Simply put, based off this year, if I had to take any player to start a team with, it would be De Bruyne. He’s the best player on the best team. Despite Salah’s wonderful year, Kevin De Bruyne has the inside track to win Premier League Player of the Season.

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  1. Skylar Darel

    April 16, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Out of De Bruyne’s shots on target, 60% have gone in.

    Additionally, this article is based on the Premier League– the Champions League has no bearing on who wins the award.

  2. Smoley

    April 5, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    I don’t understand this…

    >>Those 7 goals, however, are on only 77 shots. Giving him a 60% shot accuracy, which is higher than Kane (56%), and just behind Salah (62%).<<

    Are you saying that 60% of De Bruyne's shots were on-frame, or is this 60% number somehow tied to the 7 goals out of 77 shots? And were those 77 the total shots made by De Bruyne this season, or the number of shots made that were on-frame?

    Also wondering if you still feel the same about your choice after having watched the Liverpool v. Man City CL match yesterday? De Bruyne didn't seem to impress there in the 3-0 loss.

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