Editor’s Column: Mo Salah is a machine and his brilliance taken for granted

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The penalty that won us last night’s game with Fulham was Mo Salah’s 29th goal of the season. With four games left, he’s almost certain to hit the 30 goal mark for the third season on the bounce. Interestingly, the two seasons where he scored 27 and 23 for us in total were the Champions League and Premier League winning ones.

In total, he’s notched 185 Liverpool goals and is now our all-time top Premier League scorer. Not bad considering he was 25-years-old when we signed him and is yet to reach his 31st birthday.

The narrative throughout this campaign surrounding the Egyptian is that he’s been largely off colour. At the beginning of the term, there was noise that he’d stopped giving it his all after being awarded a monstrous new contract, Mesut Ozil style. But then Salah just started scoring all of the time and people stopped talking about him.

That’s what happens. His goalscoring feats and his repeated excellence have become boring to the mainstream football media. But scoring 29 goals from the right-wing would be one of the greatest seasons of a mere mortal’s career. Salah does it every season.

Perhaps the most exceptional thing about Salah is that his body allows him to play in every game. Since we signed him in 2017, he’s missed just four games with injury or illness. That statistic is almost more impressive than his goalscoring. Like they say, the best ability is availability. Compare Salah to the likes of Naby Keita and Thiago. Two exceptional midfield talents whose bodies continually let them down, versus one exceptional talent who has utter faith in his body and his physical attributes.

Another forward like this is Luis Suarez. For eight years at Liverpool and Barcelona, during his peak, he missed just a handful of games. It builds rhythm, robustness and ultimately a trust in your body to sprint and compete. Not being injury prone is a big part of Suarez’s greatness and now Salah’s.

Salah though has scored more than double the goals Suarez did and has won things for us, to boot.

He’ll now be part of the rebuild. A Liverpool 2.0 with new blood and new tactical ideas. Salah’s role however will remain the same. Starting on the right-wing, he’ll look to make runs into the box, stretch teams, and get shots off on his left-foot. As he ages, we’ll probably need to see him starting a little closer to the goal. He’s losing his pace, so there’s no point in him being stuck on the touchline for large periods, with no team-mates close to him to link with. We saw this issue at the start of this season, but luckily Klopp fixed it.

What’s more, it seems he likes playing with his new attacking team-mates. Darwin Nunez is an enigma but he and Salah dovetail nicely, while the promising Cody Gakpo can help create for Salah in the same way Roberto Firmino did for many a season. Diogo Jota shares Salah’s poaching instincts, but he starts from the left so doesn’t take up the same spaces, while everybody loves playing alongside the maverick Luis Diaz.

Where Liverpool are most likely to enter the transfer market is in midfield, of course. Alexis Mac Allister is a big target, as is Ryan Gravenberch and Manuel Ugarte. The first two names linked are creative players capable of threading passes, which will theoretically provide even more opportunities for Salah to score.

Since Klopp changed our formation to accommodate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the double-pivot in midfield when we have the ball, there have been two advanced and slightly wider midfielders ahead of them, usually Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones. These are the spots likely for the upgrades – and it shouldn’t be ignored how exceptionally Trent has done in his new role – running games and providing assists galore.

Usually, when an attacker was approaching 31, you’d consider them in decline. Sadio Mane lost his spark towards the end and is struggling now at Bayern Munich, while injuries are taking their toll with Roberto Firmino.

Salah though is showing no signs of slowing down in terms of his goalscoring. He has lost a tiny bit of pace, but his movement is smarter now and he’s so good with the ball in tight spaces, he can wriggle out of situations and make things happen from a standing start.

29 goals and counting for the fittest footballer we’ve maybe ever had. Not bad for an awful season, eh?

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