As Liverpool’s aspirations of retaining their Premier League have been tossed and blown in recent weeks, Mohamed Salah has walked on through the storm.
A ‘crisis’ at Anfield that saw defeats to Burnley, Brighton, Manchester City and Leicester – not to mention an FA Cup exit to Manchester United – has weirdly coincided with a Salah purple patch.
The Egyptian star made it seven goals in seven games in opening the scoring in Tuesday night’s Champions League win over RB Leipzig in Budapest. In that time, his team-mates have scored only five combined.
Mohamed Salah was all smiles after opening the scoring in Liverpool’s win over RB Leipzig
The Egyptian slotted home his 24th goal of the season as Liverpool won 2-0 in Budapest
Salah gets a hug from manager Jurgen Klopp as he leaves the field after a perfect first leg
When you place Salah’s goal returns into a wider context, over the course of this season and his three previous ones at Liverpool, it’s quite astounding that he remains under-appreciated by many.
Quite a number in Liverpool’s fanbase would ditch Salah in a heartbeat if an Erling Haaland or a Kylian Mbappe were to become available.
Perhaps there has been a reaction to Salah’s interview with Spanish newspaper AS in December in which he didn’t rule out a future move to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
At the age of 28, having already won the Champions League and the Premier League with Liverpool, it’s only natural Salah should consider a fresh challenge at some point.
Given his remarkable returns of goals and assists, Salah would grace any team in the world and if he does see through his present Liverpool contract until 2023 the records will continue to tumble.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to have scored more goals than Salah so far this season
Salah is out-scoring Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund (left) and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus (right) at the moment
Nothing lasts forever and Liverpool fans should really admire and appreciate Salah while they have him.
His recent glut of goals has propelled Salah to 24 goals in 34 matches across all competitions this season. His goal in Budapest meant he has already surpassed the 23 he scored in the title-winning 2019-20 campaign.
Only the freakish returns of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski – 30 goals in 29 games – eclipse Salah’s scoring in Europe’s top five divisions this season.
He is outscoring Dortmund striker Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus, both of whom have 23.
Admittedly, Salah will yet have to go some to match the incredible return of 44 goals in 52 games in the 2017-18 season, when he helped power Liverpool to the Champions League final.
But with their passage into the quarter-finals all but sealed thanks to Sadio Mane’s goal to make it 2-0 on Tuesday night, Liverpool could yet challenge again in Europe even if Manchester City look set to gallop away with their Premier League crown.
In less than four seasons, Salah has become Liverpool’s all-time leading scorer in the European Cup/Champions League, quite remarkable considering their rich and successful history in it.
He has scored 23 times in the competition proper, plus one in the 2017-18 qualifying round against Hoffenheim, his first Anfield goal after signing from Roma.
While it’s true that Steven Gerrard technically scored 30 Champions League goals for the club, nine of those came in qualifying rounds and 21 in the competition proper.
Gerrard does very much lead the way in terms of overall European goals though with 41 to Salah’s 24.
Salah, who helped Liverpool win the trophy in 2019, is the club’s all-time leading scorer in the European Cup/Champions League proper with 23
The 28-year-old has continued to score at an impressive rate despite Liverpool’s recent blip
Liverpool all-time top scorers
1. Ian Rush – 346
2. Roger Hunt – 285
3. Gordon Hodgson. – 241
4. Billy Liddell – 228
5. Steven Gerrard – 186
6. Robbie Fowler – 183
7. Kenny Dalglish – 172
8. Michael Owen – 158
9. Harry Chambers – 151
10. Sam Raybould – 130
11. Jack Parkinson – 128
12. Dick Forshaw – 123
13= Ian St John, Mohamed Salah – 118
15. Jack Balmer – 110
That goal against Leipzig pulled Salah level with club legend Ian St John in joint-13th position in the club’s all-time scorers chart.
But while St John took 425 matches to bring up his 118 goals for Liverpool, Salah has needed just 186.
It surely won’t be long before Salah surpassed the 130 scored by Sam Raybould between 1900 and 1907 to crack the top 10, whereupon it’s something of a vertiginous climb to the summit of Ian Rush’s 346.
Salah would probably have to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career to scale that peak but he is the first Liverpool player to net 20 goals in four consecutive seasons since Rush in the 1980s.
After winning the Premier League title last season, Salah didn’t rule out moving to Spain in an interview late last year
So Salah is returning phenomenal numbers that stand up to comparison with any other forward in Liverpool’s illustrious history. Another 40-goal season beckons for him.
To continue scoring at such a furious rate in a season that has seen Liverpool look pretty off-colour in comparison to the two previous ones is all the more impressive.
As BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand said on Tuesday night: ‘He’s going to go down as one of the best to play in the Premier League, definitely as a goalscorer, because those levels are huge.’
The front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino is almost certainly past its peak, yet the Egyptian stands head and shoulders above in terms of excellence. Mane is Liverpool’s second-highest scorer this season, some 13 behind on 11.
After Salah’s interview in December, Klopp admitted that Liverpool cannot force him to stay against his will.
If he does leave, it may be a case for some fans of not appreciating what you have until it’s gone.