Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has cast his Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year vote for Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.
City face Liverpool in the first leg of a keenly anticipated Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, with the Anfield encounter being billed by many as a showdown between De Bruyne and Salah - widely considered to be the Premier League's standout performers this season.
De Bruyne has been the heartbeat of a City team who have won the EFL Cup and can wrap up the top-flight title with six games to spare by beating rivals Manchester United this weekend, while Salah has hit a phenomenal 37 goals in all competitions since joining from Roma for £36.9million last June.
Players are barred from voting for team-mates under PFA rules, leaving De Bruyne to throw his weight behind his main rival for the prize.
Salah deserves PFA Player of Year award, says De Bruyne
"I voted for Salah," the Belgium midfielder told BT Sport. "Because he deserves it. If it's nobody from our team I think he deserves it."
De Bruyne and Salah both failed to make the grade at Chelsea, shining in the Bundesliga and Serie A respectively before sealing Premier League returns, but the 26-year-old insists that common experience was not a factor in his voting decision.
"I don’t look at what happened before. I wouldn't know how to choose anybody else outside of Salah if it's not [a player from] our team," he added.
"If he wins, he wins. I think he's up there with [Harry] Kane, me and David [Silva] for me. Those are the four best players of this year consistently."