Will it be Mo Salah, Kevin De Bruyne… or someone else? With voting closed for Footballer of the Year and the winner announced on Friday, our experts explain their picks
- The Football Writers’ Association player of the year will be announced on Friday
- Mo Salah is the favourite – but mentions for Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil Van Dijk amongst others
- Plenty of Liverpool and Manchester City players in contention for the award
- Ruben Dias won the award last year, with Jordan Henderson taking the gong in 2020
It is Footballer of the Year week. Voting closed last night and the winner will be revealed on Friday.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah is the clear favourite after his blistering start to the season, but few Premier League stars have sustained their sparkle from start to finish in a campaign when managers have more than ever chosen to rest and rotate their squads.
Here, Sportsmail’s reporters stationed around the country reveal the players on their minds as the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) votes were cast. There are lots of Liverpool players in the conversation and surprisingly few from table-toppers Manchester City…
Mo Salah (pictured), with the most goals and assists, is the favourite to take the award
The only winner can be Mo Salah . The vote has coincided with a little dip in form but don’t let that cloud your view. He has played PlayStation football at times, dribbling past defenders as if controlled by a joystick.
Honourable mentions go to the outstanding Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold but Salah has been a joy to watch. A better player than when he won this prize in 2018.
Diogo Jota is my choice. Yes, it seems like a strange one but here is the reasoning. Football is increasingly a squad game and Liverpool’s Portuguese forward has given Jurgen Klopp the depth of quality needed to keep pace with Manchester City.
It is because of Jota’s dependability and ability to move in and out of the Liverpool team without breaking stride that other star names — the likes of Sadio Mane and Salah — have been able to flourish. Jota’s attitude is superb and he contributed 21 goals. A class act.
Diogo Jota (pictured) has enjoyed a stellar season for Liverpool as they chase the quadruple
Declan Rica would be a worthy winner for his consistency, improvement and huge influence in what could yet be a trophy- winning season for West Ham.
Riyad Mahrez would be my pick of the candidates at Manchester City. But it is hard to look past Salah for the numbers he has put up this season, both for goals and assists.
Kevin De Bruyne is back to running games in a way that very few can and is often unplayable. He is three goals away from surpassing his Premier League record high of 13 for a season, recorded two years ago.
Performances have improved as the importance of matches increase during Manchester City’s run-in — the sign of a great.
Kevin De Bruyne (centre) has come to life in the second half of the season to push Manchester City to a fourth title under Pep Guardiola
My FWA vote went to Jota because each time I saw Liverpool he was their best player, and usually scored their first goal.
But in London, few have performed from August to April with the consistent quality and personality of Antonio Rudiger. Never anything other than full-throttle aggression. It has been a delight to see him compete in his final season at Chelsea.
Mateo Kovacic has been excellent for a couple of seasons at Chelsea. Much of his work goes largely unnoticed but his quality in possession and work-rate off the ball make him one of the Premier League’s most effective and unsung performers. Chelsea are not the same when he isn’t there.
Mateo Kovacic’s (pictured) injury has come at the wrong time of the season for a Chelsea side for which he is so important
Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall has been a revelation and my pick for Midlands Player of the Year, just ahead of Wolves pair Jose Sa and Ruben Neves.
Nationally, I’d choose Mane who has helped Liverpool push for glory on four fronts and inspired Senegal to win the Africa Cup of Nations and reach the World Cup.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (pictured) has been a revelation for Brendan Rodgers’ side this season
Joelinton (left) has enjoyed a resurgence in his Newcastle career under Eddie Howe
Salah should be the runaway winner. If not, his consistency has been taken for granted. But I would also make a strong case for Newcastle’s Joelinton.
Written off as a £40million flop at centre forward, his transformation under Eddie Howe is barely believable. The Brazilian (below) is now a midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira.
My vote goes to Van Dijk— it’s difficult to overplay the role his return has played in Liverpool’s resurgence this year.
Salah has had a more spectacular campaign but Van Dijk’s consistent brilliance is Liverpool’s foundation. Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate have been excellent, too.
Virgil Van Dijk’s return from a knee injury has seen Liverpool challenge once more for the biggest prizes
Rice is a contender as he’s made West Ham more competitive than their transfer spend tells us they should be. Van Dijk’s return has put Liverpool back fighting for the title again. But I voted for Salah. Most assists, most goals and some that we’ll remember for years.
Declan Rice (pictured) has captained West Ham for much of the season, with the club enjoying one of its most successful ever campaigns
Last 10 winners
Ruben Dias (2021), Jordan Henderson (2020), Raheem Sterling (2019), Mo Salah (2018), N’Golo Kante (2017), Jamie Vardy (2016), Eden Hazard (2015), Luis Suarez (2014), Gareth Bale (2013), Robin van Persie (2012).
Kathryn Batte’s WSL top three:
1 Sam Kerr — The Chelsea striker is set to finish as the WSL’s top scorer again and her goals may decide the title race. Her performance in the FA Cup final was one of the moments of the season.
2 Lauren Hemp— Manchester City’s best performer. There is every chance Hemp will be the star of the Euros this summer.
3 Ella Toone — With eight assists and six goals, Toone is arguably Manchester United’s most important player.
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