Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were more deserving winners of the Premier League Player of the Season award than Kevin De Bruyne.
That’s according to Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, who also told Stats Perform that Erling Haaland won’t necessarily make Manchester City a stronger team next season.
City playmaker De Bruyne last week edged out Son, Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and James Ward-Prowse for the award.
The Belgium international played a key role in City’s successful title defense with 15 goals in 30 league appearances and a further eight assists.
Remarkably, the 30-year-old’s 15 goals came from an expected goal return (xG) of just 6.2, meaning he scored nine goals more than expected due to the quality of his chances.
However, his 23 direct goal appearances were fewer than Salah (36), Son (30) and Harry Kane (26) managed, despite having played at least five fewer games than any of them .
De Bruyne ranked above each of these players in chances created (87), however, and was only behind Alexander-Arnold (90) and Bruno Fernandes (89).
But Thompson believes Liverpool striker Salah and son of Tottenham – who shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals – have been more consistent than De Bruyne over the season.
“I think it has to be Mo. I know the players have all given it to Kevin De Bruyne and he’s a wonderful player,” Thompson said.
“He’s been wonderful the last few months, but it’s one season and people are influenced by people who finish the season well.
“It’s always on their minds when they just put their name on that form, or if it’s all done over the phone now.
“But I would like to reflect on the whole year, and yes, Mo hasn’t filled them in for about six weeks, but overall he has been.
“They were talking around Christmas that he was the best player in the world. He didn’t go from being the best player in the world to being second fiddle to De Bruyne.
“I’m sorry. Mo Salah was player of the season and Son was probably more consistent over the nine months.”
City’s title triumph was their fourth in the past five seasons and they have already decided to strengthen their squad with the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.
Haaland has scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund, a tally only bettered by Kylian Mbappe (90) and Robert Lewandowski (123) since January 18, 2020.
But, citing a rather mixed campaign for British record signing Jack Grealish, Thompson questioned whether Pep Guardiola would get the most out of Haaland.
“He’s a wonderful player, a great player,” said Thompson, who won 17 major accolades in 13 years at Liverpool before becoming Reds manager.
“Is there a missing piece of the puzzle for them in the Champions League? They can still do things, but it might upset them a bit.
“As you see with Grealish, who was £100m, did it work out? He plays as a left-winger because that’s the system Pep likes.
“So you have a complete centre-forward who, yes, is full of energy, but he doesn’t understand the press City are using. It will be a change for them. It could change things.”
Liverpool, who have seen Luis Diaz on the pitch since arriving from Porto in January, are expected to be active in the next transfer window themselves.
A deal for Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho is already in place, but Thompson isn’t sure a big-name signing is really needed to keep pace with champions City.
“We have an established pattern, although I still hope we will sign a few players,” he said.
“I believe that’s what you have to do all the time to give that little buzz in the dressing room, to turn things around on the pitch. And we just missed out.”
Liverpool’s 92 points this season are the eighth in Premier League history, but it was not enough to beat City, who finished a point clear.
Thompson added: “We have to find the magic ingredient to get those extra few points to win this league, but we don’t have to overdo it.
“Chelsea signed Romelu Lukaku and he played those first six games well. They were going to win the league at the start of the season and look how it went.
“It’s not necessarily a gimme that it always works.”