With 40 goals on the season and counting; a chance to lift the Champions League trophy; and a front runner candidacy for the Golden Boot, PFA Player of the Year and even a dark horse for the Ballon d’Or—one can say that this season’s Mohamed Salah is living up to the potential he showed as talented young player at Basel only a few short seasons ago.
It all seems obvious now as the world watches the Egyptian King stake his claim as third-best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, however the path to stardom was less clear even until recently. After snubbing Liverpool’s advances to join Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the summer of 2014, the speedy wide man struggled for confidence and game time before taking what appeared to be a career downturn as he was shipped off to the Serie A on loan.
However, two stellar seasons in Italy later, the 25-year-old returned to England on the back of a £37m move to the Merseysiders, brimming with self-belief and raring to show people what they had been missing.
The Reds no. 11 spoke with Sky Sports recently, recalling his struggle to perform at the London club and the motivation it gave him to push his development as a player.
“I was here with Chelsea, didn’t get my chance, and then came back [to England]. I wanted to show everyone my football,” Salah said.
“I didn’t play. You can see by the numbers. I didn’t have my chance, but you can see when I did get my chance I proved some people wrong.
“Because in my mind I have to succeed here, when I left the Premier League I said I’d come back, and when I had the chance, I came.
“You can see the difference [in me] between now, a year before, two years before that. Every year, every day, every month I am proving myself. I always try to see my weakness, work on it, to be better as a person and a player, everything.
“You can see my body now is different than before, my finishing is different, I am more comfortable on the pitch and am trying to improve every day.
“I think I have had a great season, doing very well with the team, fighting to be in the top positions, second or third. I can’t forget what the team give me, the way we play, the way they support me inside and outside of the pitch.”
Like any great competitor, the adversity Salah faced only pushed him to achieve more, as an enraptured Liverpool fanbase have come to realize firsthand. A return to the Roman quarry where the he was forged awaits as the Reds take on Roma in the Champions League semifinal on Tuesday with a chance to lift a sixth European Cup in the balance. It makes one almost want tip one’s hat to a certain Portuguese stick-in-the-mud.