A lot of people thought Mohamed Salah was a very good signing for Liverpool. It wasn’t unusual to see people call him the sort of player who would fit well in a Jürgen Klopp side and suggest that, given his time at Roma, he might well top the 20-goal mark.
Nobody, though, really expected him to hit the heights he has so far. Nobody expected him to be well positioned to end up the Premier League’s record scorer in a 38-game season or to have Liverpool’s all-time single-season mark a slim but not impossible goal.
“It has been the best ever debut season for an attacker and it is just astronomical what he is doing,” said former Red Phil Thompson’s when he appeared on Sky. “It must be a dream for him and I imagine he will barely be able to understand what has happened.”
The assumption is that, for the most part, players moving from slower-paced leagues like Italy and France take some time to settle in England. That clearly hasn’t been the case for Salah, though, with his record of 36 goals and 12 assists so far in all competitions.
Some of that is down to his previous experience in England preparing him for the opposition he would face. Some is down to Salah’s individual skill-set. And at least some, too, is because of Jürgen Klopp playing him as the primary goal threat off a false nine.
Regardless, it’s impressive, and it rightly has him being talked about as a Ballon d’Or candidate—a player having as good a season as Lionel Messi. To truly earn such plaudits, though, Thompson says there will need to be longevity and a strong year two.
“He’s come from Italy to a league which is supposed to be tougher and more physical and he’s finding it a pushover,” he said, and as good as 2017-18 has been, he will need a second season to be counted as amongst the truly world class players in the game.
“It has just been everything Liverpool could have hoped for. Obviously all the comparisons to Messi are being made because of that low centre of gravity and the way the ball sticks to his left foot, but Messi has delivered consistently at the highest level”
“We’ve lauded it on Salah but greatness is something that comes over the seasons and it will maybe be harder next season as defenders get wiser to him, so it will be interesting to see if he hits the ground running after the summer.”