The PFA Players’ Player of the Year has a long ladder to climb and some greats to overtake.
Liverpool fans have got accustomed to the chorus of “We’ve got Salah, Oh Mane Mane and Bobby Firminio” echoing through the scared Anfield stands every week. When they paid Roma £34.3m for Mohamed Salah’s signature last summer, nobody could have predicted the season he went on to have. It seemed almost blasphemous to mention his name alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Ballon D’or, but the mercurial Egyptian has forced himself into the reckoning with 32 goals in the Premier League alone.
There have also been talks about him being the best African player to ever play in the Premier League. While this talk is premature, it is not inconceivable to see him take that position in the future. He has a bit of work to do if he is to prove to the world that he is better than some of the greats of the game, hailing from the African continent who graced the Premier League.
Trophies are essential to be able to put Salah in the same category as the likes of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, with both having won multiple Premier League titles and cup competitions. At 25 years of age, the former Chelsea reject has the world at his feet and will most likely topple all records.
However, there is an ever-present danger of all this being nothing more than a flash in the pan. The best players maintain a certain standard of performance over the course of their career, which is something Salah will have to do in what is a very inconsistent Liverpool side.
All 32 goals by the Egyptian in EPL
Salah’s greatest strength lies in his ability to find pockets of space in-between opposition defences and to exploit them with devastating accuracy, a trait that has proven to be too much for most teams in the Premier League. However, he is not infallible.
Games against the likes of Manchester United have shown that he struggles with proper making and against tactics that do not suit Liverpool’s style of play. But this just means that there is room for the Egyptian to improve, an extremely scary prospect for the other teams in the division and indeed, in Europe.
When Salah scored his 32nd goal of the league campaign, to break Alan Shearer’s and Luis Suarez’s record for the most goals scored in a single Premier League season, it wasn’t met with great surprise, rather with an air of expectancy, such has been the reason the Egyptian is having. Salah has broken no less than 7 records in his first season at Anfield and he doesn’t look like slowing down.
Didier Drogba spent 9 years with Chelsea, over two spells with the London club and he did so much more than just score goals. Along with the likes of Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and others, Drogba ushered in an era of success for Chelsea, the influence of which is felt to this day.
The same could be said for Yaya Toure at Manchester City. Salah has the unique opportunity to achieve what Luis Suarez failed to, by bringing about an era of sustainable success at Liverpool and perhaps even winning a league title at the club.
While Salah may have broken individual records throughout the season, his influence on the history of the club and on the Premier League is still miles to go. There is no doubt that he has the talent to be the spearhead of anything Liverpool are to go forward with over the next few seasons.
But the question remains if he has the consistency to sustain the magic he brought to Anfield this season over the rest of his career at the club, provided they are able to keep hold of him. If he does so, we might have a future Ballon d’Or winner and arguably the best African to ever grace the Premier League on our hands. Only time will tell.