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Why Mo Salah is in a league of his own as the elite stars of the English game are ranked

Magic Mo and superb Portuguese quartet dominating chart as season hits top gear
Mo Salah is favourite to be named Player of the Year

Mo Salah is favourite to be named Player of the Year

Roy Curtis

MO Salah, a streamlined torpedo in human form, has been the constantly detonating alpha male of the Premier League.

If the vote for PFA Player of the Year was taken today, the Egyptian would win in a landslide. Halfway through the campaign, here are our top-ten performers - based entirely on performances this season. Expect Virgil van Dijk and Kevin De Bruyne to surge into contention in the second half of the season, but for now here's our best of the best.

1. Mo Salah (Player of Year odds: 4/6).

A volcano in full sustained eruption, a soldier-at-arms with a dazzling war-dance, a venomous offensive arrowhead, Salah has narrowed the space between truth and wonder.

If Liverpool's title challenge has shrivelled in December, Salah's status as the English game's Caesar, supremely poised, untouchable, pushing out the boundaries and conquering the football world, remains irrefutable.

Leading both the Premier League goals (15) and assists (9) lists, his 24 goal involvements place him in another dimension, fully 13 clear of his nearest rival.

Throw in aesthetic merit (his goal against Manchester City had echoes of peak-Maradona or Messi), seven Champions League strikes, irreplaceable value to his team, and his candidacy swats even the best of the rest aside.

The opening half of 2021/22 will be remembered as the span when the Egyptian, sashaying in darting bursts beneath that riot of dark curls, advanced into another world of achievement.

2. Bernardo Silva (6/1)

A Portuguese poet, Silva's Manchester City reawakening, has been laden with sumptuous lyrical stanzas.

A peripheral and frustrated figure last season (after initially shining following his £43m move from Monaco in 2017), it appeared as if Pep Guardiola might be willing to stamp the 27-year-old's exit visa over the summer months.

If it was mere serendipity that kept Silva at The Etihad, the dividend has been spectacular.

A creative wellspring responding to Guardiola's work ethic demands, he has already equalled his previous best goals return for a single season (seven).

3. Joao Cancelo (20/1)

Joao Cancelo is full package

Joao Cancelo is full package

An emblem of the New Football, Cancelo is Pep Guardiola's fluid, versatile, full-back-as-midfielder fulcrum marvel.

Nominally a defender, his forays into central midfield, brilliantly exploiting his vision and range of passing, are central to City's seemingly effortless safecracking.

His performances this season have fast-tracked him towards the penthouse where the game's stellar names reside.

If the more high-profile Portuguese duo of Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes are stationed across Manchester, it is Silva and Cancelo who have had the greater impact.

4. Trent Alexander-Arnold (16/1)

Right boot of Alexander-Arnold has no peers

Right boot of Alexander-Arnold has no peers

His consistently engineered dream sequences are made possible by his status as the Premier League's supreme ball-striker.

A player whose divine right foot delivers a molten payload of opportunity for Salah, Mane, Jota and Firmino.

Second to team-mate Salah in the assists chart, it is in the chances created column that Alexander Arnold (46 in 17 games at a rate of 2.71 chances per game) laps the rest of the field. Nobody else has more than 30.

If his defensive skills are not as polished as many of his peers, the Kop prefer to celebrate a passing range that suggests a world class midfielder in defender's clothes.

5. Phil Foden (11/1)

City's Phil Foden is grace, style and substance

City's Phil Foden is grace, style and substance

Beautifully-balanced, dancing on air, a 21st century Gazza, Foden is a triumph of artistic grace.

Manchester City, for all their highbrow beauty, do not have an offensive peddler of menace in the Salah mode.

Rather their cutting-edge is delivered by high-end craftsmen like Foden, a footballer of burning ambition and swift elegance, who snake-charms a ball to do his bidding.

6. Reece James (33/1)

Alongside Cancelo and Alexander-Arnold, he completes the triumvirate of inventive forces camouflaged as defenders.

Four goals, five assists, 26 chances created, before Chelsea hit the December buffers, James looked irresistible.

Fears that he could miss the next three months with a hamstring injury will add to the furrow of worry lines that have invaded Thomas Tuchel's brow in recent weeks.

7. Diogo Jota (22/1)

As venomous as a copperhead snake, Jota's unforeseen advance to the game's highest reaches has been among the stories of the past 18 months.

Despite not being a guaranteed starter, he is the Premier League's second top scorer. His minutes per goal (131) is vastly superior to the more celebrated Sadio Mane (232) and compares favourably to noted predators such as Jamie Vardy (147) and Son Heung-Min (175).

A key lieutenant to Salah in Liverpool's breakneck autumnal advance, the Anfield club racing to 40 league goals at tyre-screeching, record-shattering pace

8. Cristiano Ronaldo (8/1)

Cristiano Ronaldo is seizing the hour

Cristiano Ronaldo is seizing the hour

He can sulk and pose, he is not remotely the force of old, he can be rendered invisible for large chunks of a contest, but, still, there is still something about Cristiano.

In a largely dysfunctional Manchester United, CR7 has scored 14 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions, his transformative buzzer-beating strikes rescuing the Old Trafford giants from Champions League calamity.

While Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial labour, Ronaldo, at 36, continues to seize the hour.

9. Rodri (66/1)

For all the flair that City have on tap, the Spanish holding midfielder is the glue without which Pep's vision would come apart.

A contender for most improved player in the division, he has stepped into the role filled for years by Fernandinho. Only the great but injury-plagued N'Golo Kante rivals him.

Kevin De Bruyne, impressively finding his feet after an injury-interrupted opening to the season, might be City's most talented player, but Rodri provides the qualities a coach values in gold.

10. Antonio Rudiger (100/1)

Outside the elite clubs, many have shone: Jarred Bowen and Declan Rice at West Ham; Yuri Tielemans and the timeless Vardy at Leicester; Yves Bissouma looks like the answer to many Manchester United prayers, Allan Saint-Maximin at beleaguered Newcastle have dazzled in struggling teams. But our final slot goes to Rudiger, aggressive, dominant and imperious during the opening minutes of the season.

The German is locked in a contract row with Chelsea desperate to stave off the covetous glances of several European superpowers.

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