Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr have won the 2022 PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards.
After narrowly missing out on a second Premier League title, forward Salah beat Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne to take home his second Player of the Year trophy.
The 29-year-old, who finished as the league’s joint-top goalscorer, also saw off Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and team-mates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane to win the honour and was also voted part of the 2022 PFA Premier League team of the year. Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son, who shared the Golden Boot with Salah, did not make the shortlist or the best XI.
Salah scored 23 goals in the league and clocked 14 assists during the 2021/22 season, including a hat-trick and assist at Old Trafford as Liverpool thrashed rivals Manchester United 5-0. The Egypt international also achieved League Cup and FA Cup success with Liverpool but narrowly missed out on Champions League and Africa Cup of Nations titles, losing both finals.
PFA members vote for the winners of each award, choosing the players they feel have put in the best performances all year. Salah is now one of only nine players in history to have won two PFA Players’ Player trophies, joining Mark Hughes, Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucy Bronze, Kevin De Bruyne and Fran Kirby.
Salah said: “It’s a great honour to win a trophy, individual or collective and this one is big so, very happy and very proud of that.
“This one is a really good one to win, especially because it’s voted by players. It shows you that you’ve worked really hard and you get what you worked for. I have my room with trophies in a cabinet and I made sure that I had another space for one more. I always keep space and just try to imagine that the trophies are going to come.
“When you get older, you feel like you’re more stable and you know exactly what you want from football so I’m just trying to really chill and help the team.
“That’s why I think I also won the playmaker because it’s like you’re more aware of the game, so you just try to make the people next to you better and try to make yourself better as well.”
Analysis: Salah joins elite with second win
Mark Hughes, Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucy Bronze, Kevin De Bruyne and Fran Kirby. And now Mohamed Salah. Following his first success in 2017/18, the Egyptian becomes only the ninth player to win the PFA Player of the Year award for a second time.
He is in good company and there can be no doubt he merits his place there.
Salah could not prevent Liverpool from falling agonisingly short in the Premier League title race but his case to claim the major individual prizes was nonetheless a compelling one.
Salah scored the most goals with 23 – sharing the golden boot with Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son – and provided the most assists too. Nobody else got close to his total of 36 goal involvements, the 29-year-old accounting for nearly 40 per cent of Liverpool’s total.
The underlying numbers put him in a league of his own too.
Salah’s expected goals figure was the highest in the division and he also had the most shots, shots on target and touches in the opposition box. Only one player – Tottenham’s Harry Kane – created more big chances. Salah ranked among the best for dribbles and open-play chances created too.
The sheer breadth of his contribution make him a worthy winner – and a deserving member of a select group of players to have won it twice.
Kerr becomes first Australian to win award
Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr becomes the first Australian footballer to win the award after being narrowly beaten in 2021 by Chelsea team-mate Fran Kirby.
The forward beat off competition from Vivianne Miedema, Pernille Harder, Alex Greenwood, Lauren Hemp and Kim Little to claim the trophy this year.
Kerr scored 20 goals to become the Women’s Super League’s top scorer this season. She was an instrumental part of Emma Hayes’ domestic-double winning side, scoring two goals – including an extra-time winner – as Chelsea beat Manchester City to win back-to-back FA Cups.
The 28-year-old forward also scored twice in the final WSL game of the season against Manchester United, seeing off Arsenal’s title hopes and helping Chelsea win a historic third consecutive league title.
Kerr’s first PFA award win makes her the first Australian woman to win a PFA award after Harry Kewell won the Young Player of the Year honour in 2000. Kerr’s performances this year also saw her make the PFA WSL team of the year.
Kerr said: “It’s a massive honour I think, whenever you’re voted by your peers. I think that’s the highest honour as a player so, it’s an amazing feeling.”
When asked about some of her performances during the 2021/22 season, Kerr added: “I do a lot as a player, sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t, but I think you have to see yourself in those moments.
“I just have belief in myself honestly. Just lots of confidence that in the 90th minute or whenever it is, the team will give me the ball and rely on me. Knowing that my team trust me gives me loads of confidence. I love those big moments – that’s what I live for as a footballer.”
Analysis: Kerr a worthy winner
Another week, another trophy for Sam Kerr to find a place for – she already has a WSL title, FA Cup trophy, WSL Golden Boot and FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year award to name just a few this season.
She deserves them too. In a season where Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder and Bethany England were in and out of the squad through injury and illness, Kerr has been an ever-present for Chelsea and her attacking stats rank among the best in the league.
She scored the most WSL goals (20), scored the highest number of big chances (11) and was second behind Vivianne Miedema for shots (70) and shots on target (39).
What makes her goal haul all the more impressive is that she has not taken any penalties for Chelsea this season, with all of her goals coming from open play.
Her last four goals of the season alone epitomise her class and her ability to perform in the big moments. Kerr’s double against Manchester United in the final WSL game of the season were two of the best goals you will see this year in any league.
She then scored an extra-time winner against Man City to once again prove herself to be indispensable to the Blues. Although it is a team game, Kerr effectively won both trophies for Chelsea this season.
In interviews, she is supremely likeable but rather unassuming – her years in the WSL have not seen her lose her laid-back Australian demeanour. But below the surface is one of the best strikers in women’s football and a winning mentality that cannot be dampened.
A player of true class both on and off the pitch and a worthy winner.