Journey to the Merseyside
Even then, his arrival at Liverpool was met with a side-eye by those who dismiss the Serie A as an inferior league. This is despite the league itself being home to some of the best players and teams in the world. The Reds’ German manager, Jürgen Klopp, secured his services for a club record €42m that now looks to be a bargain. Salah fit his heavy metal footballing philosophy like a glove. His presence turned their terrific three into a Fab Four, comprising the deadly quick Sadio Mané, the hard-working Brazilian false 9 Roberto Firmino, the immensely talented and versatile Phillippe Coutinho, and himself, the Egyptian Messi.
Preseason gave some ominous hints that a new speedster was in town, and he was not one to be taken lightly. True, with such players that play in a high octane fashion, there will be moments where his body moves faster than his brain, but the payoff has been worth it. Thus far, Salah has been a standout, persuasively making his case to be considered alongside the Man City midfield pair of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva for PFA Player of the ear. One must think that prohibitive title favourites, City will take home the major awards, but Salah isn’t making the choice clear-cut.
Averaging 1.2 combined goals and assists per 90 minutes so far, a sum that would be the envy of most attacking players, Salah has taken the next step on his climb up the ladder of attackers in the game. He’s created less compared to last season (2.58 vs 1.84 chances per 90mins) in a team where Firmino (2.22 per 90 mins) and Coutinho (3.14 per 90mins) act as the primary sources of chance creation. He and Mane are more goal-focused, and with good reason. Their electric pace is often the final hammer blow to complete Liverpool’s swift, synergistic attacks.
Speaking of being goal-focused, the curly haired assassin is on course for a stunning 29-30 goals, a feat that would land him 9th in all-time single season scoring in England’s Premier League, and six assists. He’s in a Liverpool team that is too swashbuckling without a backbone to make a real impression on the title race, but he’s done himself plenty of favours if his desire is to move to one of the truly massive clubs.
Is he the Egyptian Messi? Probably, but to attach another name to him does him some disservice. Messi is in another league, still, but there are similarities in their ability to accelerate past and around attackers, even if Salah is more in a straight line and less about weaving in, out and around defenders. Performing at a level best described as top-class, to which can be attached to around 50 players worldwide, Salah continues to improve and inevitably the very biggest clubs will enquire once this improvement continues. Klopp may hate the fab four moniker, but they are four, and when on, they are fabulous to watch.
Sadio may have been the ‘mane’ man last season, and while all four top players are immensely important, there’s a new scarlet speedster in town.