Kevin De Bruyne pays tribute to Player of the Year rival Mohamed Salah

Kevin De Bruyne pays tribute to Player of the Year rival Mohamed Salah

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne believes his rival for Player of the Year accolades, Mohamed Salah, is having an unbelievable season.

Liverpool's Egypt international has 37 goals this term and is leading the race for the Premier League's Golden Boot with 29 to emerge as a credible rival to City's Belgium playmaker for the award.

"To score that many goals in a season is unbelievable," said De Bruyne ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Anfield.

"No-one expected it but he hit the ground running and Liverpool are an attacking force with the way the front three work together but the way he did is unbelievable."

Asked about his own form, De Bruyne said: "It probably is the most complete.

"I play more like a central midfielder and I have to do a lot of stuff but I can play almost every minute without any problems at a high level so that is what I am most pleased with.

Liverpool fans plan to welcome the coaches down Anfield Road ahead of the game and in the past that has involved massed crowds and pyrotechnics.

"I expect nothing less. It is the way it goes," added De Bruyne.

"I like to play in big stadiums with big crowds. There is a lot of passion in football and if you feel the passion on the field you need to try to manage it."

City boss Pep Guardiola confirmed striker Sergio Aguero is not fit to feature against Liverpool and has been left behind in Manchester.

He said: "Sergio is in Manchester. He was injured the last two weeks."

Much has been made of the welcome the City team coach can expect as it arrives at Anfield.

But Guardiola is not concerned by any potential hostility they will face.

He added: "We came here to play a football game. Liverpool fans will put a lot of pressure on the players but that is what it is.

"This is a nice place to play football.

"People suggest what is going to happen tomorrow but I still have to see it to believe it. Hopefully it will be well and Liverpool fans can show their history speaks for itself."

- PA

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