Brighton boss Chris Hughton has named Kevin De Bruyne a more “complete” player than Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, ahead of their Premier League clash at Anfield on Sunday.
The Manchester City star played a pivotal role in his side’s title-winning campaign this season as a driving force in the midfield with his 15 assists.
Salah, however, leads the race for the Golden Boot with his 31 goals so far – scooping up both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Football Writers’ of the Year awards ahead of the Belgian.
With Liverpool needing a victory over the Seagulls to secure a fourth-placed finish ahead of either Tottenham or Chelsea, Salah will be even more motivated to find the back of the net – though Hughton considers De Bruyne to be the bigger threat.
“For me, De Bruyne’s the more complete player and I think it’s taken an exceptional season from Salah to win the awards ahead of De Bruyne,” Hughton told reporters.
“The progress that De Bruyne has made in the last couple of seasons has been huge and the player that I think could play for any team in the world.
“But Salah’s been exceptional and I think it would be probably so unusual and unjust to take it away from him.
“To score that many goals in one season in the way that the game is now and how competitive the game is now, I think speaks volumes for the way Liverpool play and for him as an individual.
“But for me, De Bruyne is the most complete player.”
The Egyptian has been in sensational form since his £35 million ($47m) move from Roma to Liverpool last summer, netting 43 club goals and surpassing both Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres’ best scoring seasons for the club.
Brighton will head into the fixture at Anfield with no pressure after cementing their status in the Premier League following a 1-0 victory over Manchester United last Friday.
Despite securing their spot in the Champions League final against Real Madrid, the Reds have failed to win their last three top-flight matches – their most recent result a 1-0 loss away to Chelsea.
Should Liverpool lose against the Seagulls, their only hopes of competing in Europe next season would be to win the Champions League.