By Declan Carr (@Declancarr96)
The following is a guest article by the aforementioned author – linked above – and is not necessarily representative of opinions held by anyone at Empire of the Kop…
After Liverpool’s demolition of Porto in midweek, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen engaged in a fierce debate on who was better for Liverpool over the course of a single season: Salah or Suarez? The discussion continued on social media, focused on their 2013/14 and 2017/18 seasons respectively.
Here I argue why Salah’s record-breaking season was the better of the two.
The argument that Suarez’s season was superior starts with the fact that he only finished one league goal behind Salah’s total of 32 despite the fact that he missed the first five games of the season. Surprisingly though, the Egyptian actually played less minutes. The astonishing numbers produced by Salah are even more impressive when you consider that he was playing as a winger in his first season at the club whereas Suarez was a striker who had already played two full seasons for Liverpool. The debutant’s exploits are even more impressive when we analyse who the goals were scored against – he scored seven goals against the ‘top six’ compared to Suarez’s five. The former Barcelona forward also scored more than half of his goals (16) against the bottom four teams in the league, meanwhile, only seven of Salah’s strikes came against that standard of opposition. Ultimately, Salah played less minutes, and scored more goals against higher quality opposition in the Premier League.
When it comes to the Champions League, since Liverpool did not qualify in 2013/14, we will use Suarez’s record from his first season at Barca. Alongside the greatest player of all time and Neymar at his peak, he managed a very respectable seven goals and three assists as his team won the competition. Salah, in comparison, scored ten and assisted five, also becoming the first ever player to score and assist two goals in a Champons League semi-final. It is unknown what would have happened in the final had Sergio Ramos not dislocated the Liverpool star’s shoulder. Regardless, his campaign was one of the best in the history of the competition and better than when his club won it the next season.
Many in favour of Suarez argue that he was the third-best player in the world behind Messi and Ronaldo, however, he didn’t even make the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or. Salah was harshly ranked sixth in 2018, with the World Cup significantly influencing the results. He did come third in the both UEFA and FIFA Player of the Year awards and also won the most Premier League Player of the Month awards in a single season with three. They both won the Golden Boot, and the FWA and PFA Player of the Year awards. They were both absolutely fantastic seasons, but for me, the Egyptian just edges it.