Mohamed Salah named writers’ Footballer of the Year

LONDON: Adding to his impressive individual record in the season, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.

The Egyptian forward defeated Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne on second and Tottenham striker Harry Kane on third to become the first African player to win this award.

Salah, 25, has scored 31 goals in 34 league appearances for Liverpool this season to take him to win the Professional Footballer’s Association player of the year in April.

Salah, the first Egyptian player to receive the award has been in scintillating form as he grabbed 43 goals in all competitions for the Reds in his debut season including two brilliant goals against Roma in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal.

With two games in hand the former Chelsea player has matched the records of  Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, then Cristiano Ronaldo of then Manchester United and former Liverpool player Luis Suarez – who all scored 31 goals in a season.

Salah narrowly beat the Belgium international De Bruyne in a ballot of over 400 FWA members, with the winning margin less than 20 votes. Salah and De Bruyne shared more than 90 % of the total votes.

Salah joins the elite club of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Luis Suarez who won the FWA prize and the PFA Player of the Year in a single season.

FWA chairman Patrick Barclay described the battle between the two as “the toughest call since 1968-69”, when there was a tight competition between Tony Book of Manchester City and Derby’s Dave Mackay.

“Right up to the last week or so we thought it might happen again, so strong was the support for Kevin de Bruyne,” said Barclay.

“But Mo Salah’s relentless match-winning form, exemplified by his two great goals against Roma, seems to have swung the vote by a very narrow margin.”

Other players to receive votes from FWA members were: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Nick Pope (Burnley), David Silva (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Man City) and Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham).