Harry Kewell believes Sadio Mane should be named Premier League Player of the Year over Jordan Henderson after taking over Mohamed Salah’s ‘throne’ as Liverpool’s ‘talisman’.
Mane has been central to Liverpool’s success in the English top flight this season, registering 14 goals and seven assists for the Merseyside giants across the campaign.
The Senegal forward has seen team-mates Salah and Virgil van Dijk win the award over the last two years but is the bookies’ favourite to take the crown this term, despite many calling for his captain, Henderson, to come out on top.
Asked for his pick, ex-Liverpool star Kewell told Stadium Astro: ‘There’s only one player: Mane. He’s the only player for me.
‘He’s had to work very hard to get to where he’s got to.
‘I always knew he was a special player but when you talk about players progressing and you look at the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they’ve always progressed. When you look at other great players that have played, they progress and then they drop whereas Mane just seems to keep on plugging away. This season he’s been phenomenal.
‘Mohamed Salah has been their talisman for a couple of years and Mane has kind of lived in his shadow but he’s had that respect and I just think this year he’s taken that throne which is fantastic because that’s made a little bit of competition for Salah to go past him again. And if they can get that kind of connection it’s just going to be unbelievable.
‘They both have a wonderful player that players alongside them in [Roberto] Firmino. He gets the best out of both of them, supports them and allows me to turn around and say, “Mane is the best player in the Premier League at the moment”.’
Kewell says Henderson deserves enormous credit for the way he’s recovered from losing his place in the side to become such a ‘fantastic leader’ for the Reds.
But the Australian was still unable to look past Mane for the prize.
Asked whether Liverpool’s skipper deserved to win the award, Kewell replied: ‘As a leader, yes, there’s no question about it.
‘Let’s go back to last year when he wasn’t playing and I remember watching the game where they played at Southampton and they were losing 1-0 and he came on and turned the game just with his hard work and good work ethic.
‘And from then he’s just blown away and gone to another level himself. But no, Mane for me.
‘Even though Jordan has been a fantastic leader and he’s controlling that team and he’s got wonderful people beside him as well in [Virgil] van Dijk and [James] Milner.
‘I don’t get excited by a lot of people watching football, it has to be something special, but when I watch Mane it gets exciting because you just don’t know what he’s going to do.’
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